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January 04, 2022
While cycling outdoors and battling the elements can be a rewarding challenge, there are always days when it is just too much to bear. Luckily, indoor training gives you a chance to turn up the heat and create the most advantageous conditions to better your fitness, stamina and levels of joy in the saddle.
Beyond the convenience, efficiency, and reliability, at-home indoor cycling can add a fun and exciting way to diversify your rides and exercises. With a fast array of available equipment and accessories, it is easy to break the bank getting into the at-home cycling world without the proper research and understanding of your fitness goals. Depending on your interest and goals, the following suggestions should help get you started on the right foot.
While some people go all out converting an entire room or garage into an intense training facility if you’re starting work with what you have. Ideally, you’ll need a sheltered or inside area with enough room for a trainer or bike, plus a table or little shelf for some gear and fuel. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to make the setup convenient enough to hop on whenever but out of the way enough to where it won’t interfere with mundane activities.
Also, bear in mind the weight and potential stress of the equipment. Go with a floor or surface that is both durable and easy to clean. If you have carpet putting down a mat is never a bad idea. Given trainers and rollers can be noisy, keep your pain cave away from quieter spaces and towards more soundproofed areas of your home.
While there are a range of different indoor trainers, you’ll want to generally focus on rollers, turbo trainers, smart trainers, or static bikes.
The most common type of at-home trainers is turbo trainers. Available at different price points with a range of useful features, these trainers work with your bike. Simply fasten the rear axel on the trainer with the adjustable skewer that locks the rear wheel against the cylinder, which begins to spin as you pedal. At times, and if heavily used, a turbo trainer can wear down grippy racing tires, so consider using a hard compound tire or purchasing a trainer-specific tire that you can pop onto the back tire instead. Use a power meter on your bike or optimal heart rate zones to gauge your training data and progress.
Direct drive or smart trainers can elevate your training regime with a cassette attached to the trainer that allows you to remove your wheel and fasten your chain to the trainer through the rear dropout/thru-axle. That way, you don’t have to worry about your tire wearing out. You can easily pop the wheel back on to hit the open road. Not to mention, most smart trainers are often quieter and replicate road riding more accurately. Automatically increasing and decreasing resistance mimic natural variations in elevation and road conditions, making for an intense and more riveting workout. If you are a fan of interval training in specific power zones the smart trainer allows you to integrate with apps to recreate different elevation profiles of virtual cycling courses. If you are serious about investing in your training regime, look no further than a smart trainer or direct drive model.
As one of the more demanding and intense training tools, rollers consist of three free-spinning cylinders on which the bike rests and is propelled. Peddling momentum and energy drives the rollers to rotate, which simulates the ground moving underneath you. Since nothing holds the bike up, your natural momentum is the only force holding the bike upwards and forward.
While there are both benefits and drawbacks to rollers, learning how to safely start and keep the momentum up is a great exercise in core strength and balance. As a rule of thumb, start by holding onto something close by that helps center your balance until you have enough momentum to balance yourself. Rollers are super compact and can travel with you wherever you need them.
If you’re in the mood to splurge, going with a complete high-tech smart bike designed for indoor cycling is the way to go. Not to be confused with the regular gym or spin-class bikes, these devices allow you to monitor your heart rate, power output, pedal strokes, and cadence while controlling resistance and much more. While there is a range of available models on the current market, some of our favorites include the Wahoo Kickr Indoor Smart Bike and The Original Peloton Bike.
While countless accessories can improve your indoor training experience, a fan and a water bottle are must-haves. Given the nature of indoor workouts, you will likely start sweating buckets and require the liquids to replenish and stay hydrated. Normally, an outdoor breeze has a natural cooling effect that lowers your internal temperature. Having this same relief inside is vital. Managing a healthy core temperature allows for performance gains while helping you safely push yourself to new heights. When it comes to fans, air-circulating fans such as ceiling, oscillating, and drum fans with high CFMs are great for cooling rooms and large areas. That said, look for fans with a fixed airflow direction for optimal results and relief.
Beyond that, laying mats under your trainer keeps your set up clean and stable instead of sliding around on a slippery and potentially dirty surface. It also protects the floor from potential scratches, noisy vibrations, and moisture. If you cant get your hands on a mat, putting an old towel underneath your trainer is a good option. Keep an extra towel on your handlebars to wipe excess sweat from your brow, neck, or back.
Indoor training brings social benefits that come with increased levels of connectivity. Using platforms like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Wahoo System, Rouvy, and RGT, allow you to interact and connect with others while fueling your desire to push further and improve your stamina and riding skills. Motivation is crucial to any indoor training regime, given you are the only one in control of how hard you work and when. While it pays to invest in some fancy bells and whistles to improve the ease and level of comfort while riding, your motivation and desire to improve are what will have you coming back for more. Whether exploring the virtual world of cycling, structured training plans, or a challenge to complete, finding the inspiration to push further and harder on those cold, dark, and wet winter days will make all the difference once summer comes around.
While this is in no way a complete list, hopefully, this can get your indoor training started on the right foot. For more cycling tips and information, visit the Thread + Spoke blog or explore the shop for your fix of cycling lifestyle apparel.
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