Physical fitness is something that requires continual maintenance. Fitness begins to decline after 3 days off of the bike and can reduce by as much as 50% after three weeks. Fitness gains made during the spring and summer months can be lost by taking the entire winter off. While cross training is helpful, big benefits can be reaped from specific training on the bike. The indoor trainer is a great tool to help keep your legs, lungs and heart in riding shape when it is too cold, wet or dark to venture outdoors.
Be Prepared to Sweat!
The good news is that training on an indoor trainer is actually more time efficient than riding outside. You get a higher training effect in a shorter period of time because on a trainer there are no turns, downhills, coasting or stop signs. When setting up your trainer, pick a surface that is resistant to sweat and grease and be sure to set a fan close by. The heat build up while riding a trainer, without the cooling effect of wind, is amazing. Have a towel and plenty of cold water on hand as well.
Use Intervals to Help Pass the Time and Gain Fitness
Doing intervals while riding on the trainer can not only help pass the time, but can result in greater fitness gains as well. After warming up for at least ten minutes, try one of the two sample workouts below. Ride at a strong but maintainable pace during the "ON" sections. Drop down three to four gears and spin easily to recover during the "OFF" sections. Cool down for at least ten minutes afterwards as well.
Improve Your Spin
If you use clipless pedals and cycling shoes, one great technique you can use on your trainer to improve your spin and efficiency is to do single-leg workouts. Put the bike in a very low gear and pull your left leg out of the pedals and rest it on the trainer or on a stool next to the bike. Pedal 20 revolutions using only your right leg. When you reach 20, or get too tired to continue, immediately switch legs, then pedal 20 revolutions using only your left leg. Pedal easy with both legs for one minute, then repeat. Initially, start with just two sets on each leg. Gradually work up to a total of four sets. You'll be amazed at how tired each leg will get from having to "pull up" when it is working by itself. You'll also notice that it becomes easier to pedal smoothly during normal pedaling, since you are essentially "teaching" each leg to pedal in perfect circles. This set works great just after warm-up or after a five-minute break from the interval work above.
Pump Up Your Workout
Since the scenery does not change while riding in place, it's best to have alternative methods of distraction. Join a spin class or ride with friends. Play your favorite upbeat CD really loud, or watch TV. To give your legs and rear end an occasional breather during your workout, put your bike in its largest gear, stand up and pedal for 15-20 seconds. Changing your workouts frequently can help combat boredom. You can rearrange the workouts above. Just make sure that the "OFF" time is roughly one-third of the total "ON" time. If you have any other questions regarding training or equipment, please feel free to drop in, e-mail or call us.