Indoor training vs road cycling is a never-ending debate. Most coaches recommend a mix of the two to achieve maximum gains. Long hours on the road, short intensive workouts indoors. Here are the 20 main advantages of indoor training over road cycling.
Fact: It will make you a faster cyclist – Anyone with a coach and a power meter, and who’s practicing serious structured training, knows that indoor training is the best way to train for speed.
1 hour on the turbo = 2-3 hours on the road – Even on a flat ride, 10% of the time on the road is spent freewheeling. On a hilly ride when you add in descending time, it can be up to 40%! Turbo training is harder because there’s nowhere to hide.
Eliminate the variables for proper interval training – Traffic lights, road conditions, climbs, descents… once you’ve tried completing power intervals accurately on the road, you’ll go running to the turbo.
Stay safe on dark winter nights – As cyclists we’re very vulnerable road users, especially at night. The only danger with turbo training is slipping over on the sweat afterwards.
Eliminate mental barriers to training – Training is so much easier when the bike is sitting there ready and you can be on it in seconds. No need to check the weather forecast, choose clothes, carry the bike downstairs and get out of town.
Less preparation time for better time management – All those things take time. Total training time is much shorter indoors.
No need to wash your bike and tons of clothing after a wet winter ride – After-ride activities are equally time-consuming. Take the hassle out of winter training by dressing like it’s the summer and never getting your bike dirty.
Train exactly when you want to – Work, life and family commitments often leave us with narrow windows of free time for training. Time-efficient turbo sessions can be slotted in while the baby’s asleep or your partner is watching TV.
Monitor and adjust your bike position and posture – Have you noticed how badly you sit on the bike and how much you move around? Fix it simply by riding in front of a mirror and watching yourself. Aerodynamic posture + less movement = fast cyclist.
Improve your pedaling technique – Focus on your cadence and pedal stroke will make major improvements to your cycling. Also practice one-legged drills to build strength.
Stick to your training plan whatever the weather – Is it freezing outside? Or pouring with rain? Or 40 degrees in the shade? What does it matter when you train indoors?
Train for climbing even when you live in a flat area – You use slightly different muscles climbing and sit further back on the saddle. Prepare for this by raising your front wheel higher off the ground. Something you can’t do on the road unless you’re Peter Sagan.
Interactive platforms make training fun – Platforms like Zwift bring in a social side to indoor training. Train with friends or family who live on the other side of the world.
Practice race simulations on Zwift to push yourself harder – Stay competitive throughout the winter by racing on a virtual platform like Zwift. Even the pros do it.
Access sophisticated training apps like TrainerRoad for indoor training plans – Coaches are worth it but they’re expensive. Apps like TrainerRoad have hundreds of training plans you can use even if you don’t have a power meter, thanks to the Virtual Power feature.
Learn better pacing by riding to power – In a race you often go too hard too soon. But if you’ve practiced intervals on the turbo you will be much better at gauging your efforts.
Track your fitness accurately to peak for events – Record every workout to ensure you peak at the right time.
Build mental toughness – Turbo training is real training. There’s nowhere to hide and no wheel to sit on. If you can concentrate on the turbo and hit the numbers you’ll learn to suffer and to win.
Avoid over-training by sticking to set workouts – Group rides on the road often turn into races when our egos come out. Steady Z2 rides can become all out efforts pushing your TSS (Training Stress Score) through the roof. Training indoors is much more controlled and you avoid the temptation to ride further and harder than your training plan requires.
Pre-ride race courses indoors using a smart trainer – Upload a GPX file of the route and study the course without leaving your living room. Perfect for target A-races out of your area. Plus, you can take the trainer and have a perfect pre-race warm-up routine.