Indoor cycle training can be very rewarding for those cyclists who are prevented from cycling outdoor training due to the weather conditions or time commitments. It can be very boring training on your turbo trainer looking at four walls or staring in front of you. Some people watch a movie or listen to music as they pedal whilst they follow a training program. It still can be hard to take your mind off the pain that your body is going through; you have to be mentally prepared for this. The turbo’s constant pressure will keep you working hard towards your aims and goals. Racing cyclist has to work extremely hard on the turbo, just to keep their fitness levels up and for improvement. I was told to use these words, “Mind over matter,” it’s true, control the mind and the mind will control the body.
Indoor training I feel is vital when you cannot train outdoors. So really there is no excuse not to have a good workout. A competitor needs to maintain their fitness levels and to improve their cycling with interval training. Some cyclists will use different types of indoor trainers which they feel are more suited to their style of training. There are many types of equipment to choice from; Smart turbo trainers, rollers, watt bikes, gym trainers and direct drive turbo, the list goes on.
I use a smart turbo trainer which for me is more suitable for my requirements and whereby I feel I have done a complete workout which will push me to my limits. This is the area I would like to focus on, smart turbo training. There is plenty of information about indoor trainers on the internet and at your local bike store. Which you will find useful, just chose wisely and it meets all your expectations. I went out in search for a suitable indoor trainer that would be of benefit to my expectations.
These are some of the consideration I had to take into an account before I bought a trainer. Remember this is my selection; you need to understand the mechanics of the machine. Does it use magnets, how powerful are the magnets, how long will they last and how many magnets are in position. What’s does the wattage levels go up to. How do you change the wattage, where are the watt lever positioned, are there any cables and where, what size of wheel can be fitted. Does it have a front support block and skewers? How much noise does it create when pushing the pedals, any vibrations when pedalling? Is there any wheel slipping on the roller as you increase cadence?
It is also important to know the weight of the complete turbo and does it fold away for transporting and what is the suggested life expectance after all you are spending a lot of money.
Using a turbo trainer will provide opportunities to adjust your bike for a comfortable and safe riding position. If you are uncomfortable with your position on your bike, don’t except to achieve a fast time, being uncomfortable is one of the reasons why riders slow down because of the pain and discomfort. I learnt the hard way and suffered just like many novice cyclist. My saddle was too high, which created chaffing and a sores in the sensitive regions. I had extreme back ache to the point it forced me to slow down and the pains in my knees was excruciating. After studying and again information from other cyclist, I quickly learnt how adjust my bike position, until I felt comfortable.
To really benefit from a bike fit I would recommend using a professional bike fitter, they will make sure you are aerodynamic and comfortable to allow you use your power. There’s a fine line between being to aero and being able to use your power. A too low position would result in power loss and a too high position will increase your power but then you will be more exposed to the wind and your power will be mainly used to fight the wind and drag. The faster your speed the harder it will be to push through the wind unless you are in an aero position suited to your body shape.
When you use an indoor turbo trainer you need to understand the mechanical and technical aspects before you start to use the machine. After all, you will spend a lot of time on the turbo and you want to make-sure you get the most out of it when training. You will see impressive improvements in your riding abilities along with riding skills, your power and speed will increase. Oops, providing you train hard and not shy away from the horrible pain and fatigue.
There are some advantages and disadvantages when using a turbo trainer, but to be honest in my opinion they equal themselves out. I found that many people felt indoor training on a turbo was beneficial to their training and spoke highly and some cyclist had different views. You will find amongst expert cyclists there are differences of opinions. However these opinions are based on generalisation and not individually. Let’s be honest, not everyone will be suited to turbo training but, there are many people who are suited. We all train differently and I feel it’s more of a personal decision to use a turbo trainer
Using a trainer indoor is a good way of honing in on your cycling skills such as pedalling fluently, which is broken down into four stages; The kick, drag back, lift and push, once all these are mastered your pedalling will become smoother and the turbo allows you to practise these movements without any disturbance. You can also complete high intensity training along with intervals at your functional threshold power, (ftp) without any hindrance. Overall In my opinion it’s the way forward for the future. You can also link your turbo trainer to cycling training programs online and compete against like mind cyclist from around the world. (Can be very demanding).
There are different types of turbo trainers; the regular turbo trainer and the Smart turbo trainers.
The Magnetic Resistance – probably the most common type of resistance now found on turbo trainers. These use a magnet to control the amount of resistance placed on the flywheel of the turbo. Magnetic trainers tend to fold which makes them easier to store or to carry. With regular turbo trainers you may have to purchase speed and cadence sensors which have Bluetooth and +ANT.
Smart Turbo Trainer
Smart turbo trainers serve the same goal as regular turbo trainers: they allow you to complete a focused training session on your own bike and with built-in sensors that saves you from buying additional speed and cadence sensors. Much like a Watt-bike in the gym, a turbo trainer means you can train your cycling muscles without the rigmarole of leaving your house.
Turbo trainers offer resistance as you pedal, the main part of the trainer is the resistance unit. When you spin the back wheel this has the same effect that you feel when you are cycling outdoors. Most turbo trainers incorporate a flywheel that acts like a brake, creating resistance.
The roller is pushed against back tyre whilst the back wheel is held in position by safety skewer, which is usually supplied and the arms of the trainer lock on to the bike frame. This will keep the bike steady as you push the pedals. It is advised to keep the tyre pressure constant each time you use the trainer; this will help to keep the same resistance.
You will find that the constant pressure placed on your tyre will wear quickly and create noise. There are tyres specially made for the trainer, but having said that, I use an old spare tyre which I check the tyre often. It depends on how much you use the trainer; the normal road tyre will last for some time.
There will be a knob near the roller, when turned pushes the roller towards the tyre, creating pressure and resistance. The method I use is; turn the knob until it touches the tyre, then a further 3 – 4 turns which puts pressure on the tyre creating suitable resistance that’s felt when you push the pedals. If it feels too easy then just simply turn the knob again until the correct resistance is required. Good practise is one full turn at a time, then test the resistance.
I use different gears as I go through my workout, but I always warm up using a low gear with high cadence to get the heart rate up and for the blood to enter the muscles. The higher the gear the more difficult is will be to pedal and your cadence will drop. Using different gears makes riding a bike more realistic, like outdoors. It is also advantage for using your gears for power training or replicating hill climbs. Plus you will learn to know which gear you are in without looking.
The bike needs to be level whilst riding on the turbo and this is usually done by raising the front wheel. You will find a raise block comes with the turbo trainer and this needs to be place underneath the front wheel. I like to make-sure the tyre pressure is the same pressure as the rear tyre. Don’t why, it’s me, just my way of thinking. Make-sure this block is firmly in position, because if not you will come off whilst you are pedalling with power. I know I have fell off. To make-sure the bike is level I place a spirit level on the upper tube to confirm the bike is level and then check that the rear of the bike is secured. Why? As you use the trainer at period of time, the locking mechanism becomes lose, due to vibration when you are pedalling, so therefore it makes sense to check.
My cycling discipline is Time Trials, where you ride fast from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, this could be any distance but usually 10, 25, 30, 50, 100 miles, 12 hour and 24 hours. The season ends, usually mid September, well for me it does. We are all aware of the weather conditions in the UK, cold, wet, strong winds and snow. It is at these times it’s difficult to train outside, but you force yourself to do it, I am no exception, why? Because, you are disciplined and have mounts of determination, but is that smart? I will leave that question with you.
Using an indoor trainer makes life a lot easier when you need to continue with your workout, without facing the weather conditions every day. I feel the trainer is a vital piece of equipment for doing the hard intervals and endurance training. An hour on the turbo is like riding your bike for 3 hours outdoors weather permitting. It is very demanding and good for convenience especially when you have little time to train on your bike.
I am aware that whilst training on the turbo trainer you do not need to worry about weight or wind and that the power or watts can fluctuate. I compensate for this by adding extra power and working harder whilst using the trainer. Your cadence will certainly improve and it’s recommended that a cadence between 90 –100, that’s what I aim for and I find i can manage this using a low gear, (large ring at the rear). But I lose power, and it tires me out quickly, so its the case of keep training harder.
I select a gear and try to maintain a decent cadence for as long as I can during my training sessions. But I do except to drop a few cadence or power when cycling on the road. But, if I lose some weight then I should be a little faster. I use the trainer three times per week doing various types of intervals sessions along with recovery days. I also cycle outdoors doing some hill work, but nothing to stressful.
To summarise I am in the opinion that turbo training is valuable at times when it’s hard to cycle outdoors for whatever reasons you may have. I know fast time trial riders who constantly only use a turbo. You can be assured though they will work hard. I would say if you are thinking about spending a lot of money on an indoor trainer, then take a look at a few of them and don’t let the eager salesman push you into buying a turbo trainer of his/her choice. Ask them question use some of my information to help you to get started.
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