It’s often the times when exercise is least viable that it is most important. Regular and consistent exercise delivers both physical and mental health benefits, so it’s important to have a solution in place when riding outdoors isn’t an option.
Here’s our guidance on what’s required to make indoor training work for you.
Clearly the first thing you will need to train indoors is adequate space. This doesn’t have to be a significant amount of room, but unless you live on your own, your indoor setup should be situated somewhere convenient for everyone in the property. There should be enough room to walk comfortably around your equipment in a space where air can reasonably circulate. If there is a shelf within reach for you to place drinks, sweat towels, display remotes and your favourite snacks then so much the better.
After the required space, the next most fundamental element required for any indoor training set-up is a bike. Anyone considering training indoors will likely already have this box ticked, and provided your bike is fully cleaned and well-maintained there should be no issues in bringing it in from the cold. At the barest minimum, clean the tyres, wheels and entire drivetrain properly and get rid of any loose dirt elsewhere. Ensure the chain is spotless without any wet lubricant likely to fly off onto everything within a two metre radius – believe us, it happens.
A training mat will protect the underlying floor from sweat, spilled drinks, dirt, oil and all of those other nasties you would normally leave out on the road. The mat will also deaden any noise and vibration from your vigorous indoor workouts. Don’t underestimate the importance of your training mat, and if you don’t have one then use a beach towel or something similar that you are happy to relegate out of use.
Turbo or Smart Trainer
Next include an indoor trainer onto which your bike will be fixed. There are two options here depending on how interactive you want the experience of indoor training to be. Until recently, turbo trainers were minimally interactive but still allowed the resistance felt through the rear wheel to be manually modulated.
More recently, a new more sophisticated type of trainer has emerged, which whilst also having adjustable resistance, adjusts itself in conjunction with a virtual representation of your training ride streamed through your PC or Mac. So-called interactive trainers open up a new world of possibilities and allow you to ride against others on virtual courses via online indoor cycling apps such as Zwift. This technology has delivered a step-change to indoor cycling and has pushed levels of engagement to never seen before levels. There are whole online communities to chat to and full online race series to participate in.
You’ll need a riser block to place under your front wheel. This will avoid neck strain by compensating for the raised rear wheel by situating the bike in a level plane.
Computer and VDU
For interactive trainers to be useable, you require a PC or Mac, an internet connection and a screen onto which the virtual representation of your ride will be displayed. Situate the computer somewhere convenient and remain aware of trailing power cables in risky locations around your setup. Place the screen in a frontal location and at roughly eye level as you are sat on your bike.
You’re almost there and are eager to get going, but one final essential for indoor training is a fan to keep your body temperature within comfortable limits. Heat loss through the skin is your body’s primary means of cooling and so creating airflow over your body similar to that which you experience whilst riding outdoors is imperative. Place the fan in a convenient frontal location and ensure that any moving parts are adequately shielded.
Finally, you have your setup complete, and wish to extract maximum benefit from all of your training and race sessions. Whether you have opted for an interactive or non-interactive trainer, an InfoCrank is the best way to assess and nurture your performance gains. The data produced by the InfoCrank has been shown time and again to be the most accurate and repeatable and is the power meter of choice of all of the pioneering cycling organisations such as British Cycling, the UCI and numerous teams and athletes who desire data that is more than just an approximation.
There’s no doubt that training indoors can be more fun than it’s ever been, and by using modern web-based platforms, smart trainers and your bike coupled with an InfoCrank, there’s no reason why you cannot emerge back into the outdoors with no net loss, and potentially even a gain in overall fitness.