How to Make Indoor Cycling more Fun and Productive

Make indoor Cycling more fun and productive with these 5 training tips from Coach Jake:

1.  Set up a dedicated indoor trainer space with a fan!

2. Select fun, diverse and short workouts with variable power outputs

3. Be Consistent: 1 hour a day 3-5 times per week and the tortoise beats the hare every-time!

4. Use technology to enhance your indoor riding experience (Zwift and Smart Trainers are a huge leap forward for indoor cycling enjoyment)

5. Analyze your Data


The holidays are quickly approaching and the dark days of daylight savings are upon us. Your preparation for the 2021 cycling season should be starting soon. After breaking out a few hard hours from now through the holidays, you'll need to come up a with a real plan for success. Indoor training is about as frustrating as hearing Christmas music every day for two months straight! Luckily...indoor training has never been easier. Listen to Coach Frank's Podcast on this topic.

As for myself, I’ve been racing for over 15 years and as recently as a couple of years ago I had only a few options for indoor training. Would I ride rollers or a trainer? Was it a mag or fluid trainer? Was I going stare at the wall and listen to music, watch a movie or watch the 2001 TdF for the 17th time? In 2017, the options seem never-ending with smart trainers, power meters and the newest craze: virtual training. Yeah, I remember the old days when you actually had to load up your indoor training gear to ride with someone at their house!

Even with all the new fancy toys you still need a well-structured plan. The plan you build now is the start of reaching your targets and goals in 2018. All this new technology just makes the time fly by as opposed to watching those last few seconds tick by on the microwave.

Here are 5 Tips to make your indoor training a success!

#1 Set up space where you can ride. Ideally you will be able to keep your trainer setup and all the other essentials right there in hand. That way you do not have to spend precious time and motivation just trying to set things up. You want it to be comfortable, with the temperature somewhere around 68* F. Also, make sure you have a fan! I’m not talking about a personal cheering section, although that might help! Instead, find a fan that will cool you off and reduce the sweat dripping off your forehead. I also highly recommend having a towel and plenty of water! Your body runs hotter indoors and will go through more water so it is important that you stay hydrated. Be sure to drape your bike with a towel to protect it from sweat - I've seen a lot of corroded out stem caps over the years!

#2 Keep the workouts fun, diverse and short! You want to be excited, well as much as possible, about your workout! As boring as riding indoors can be, repeating the same workout for the 4th time can only make things worse. Don’t just sit on the trainer in zone 2, make the most of your time. Add the intensity in, mix it up to achieve 60 - 80 TSS in an hour times as opposed to stretching it out to 1.5 - 2 hours. Last time I checked you do well in races at specific power outputs greater than zone 2. Unless you are less than 6 weeks away from a goal race there is no reason to spend much more time than that. 

Here is a one hour workout with variable power that helps one hour go by quickly:

#3 Be consistent! That goes along with not spending more than 90 minutes on the trainer. Riding 4 - 5 days a week goes a lot further than doing 3 days really hard and being burnt out on the trainer. Winter can be a long season. Some can still be stuck on the trainer until April! You don’t want to be crushing it on the trainer in December and January and then be burnt out on it come March when the racing season is starting. It’s sort of like making the early break in a 100-mile road race, it looks great while it’s happening but come crunch time only a small percentage actually make it. Early in the winter season look to add in strength sessions and do some core work as opposed to just another day on the trainer. These are workouts you should add to your training year round.

#4 Use the new technology that is available in your training. There are multiple types of trainers, rollers, smart trainers and now virtual training. See which one works best for you! Hire a coach and they can build a plan around the resources you have available. Or buy a plan with TrainingPeaks structured workout export feature like the one in #2 above. Export that to your smart trainer and poof, all you have to do is pedal which the structured workout controls your trainer. All our plans have a new variable power workout everyday to help break the monotony. 1 hour and the structure helps prepare you specifically for the power demands you'll face outside.

#5 Make sure you are uploading and analyzing your workouts. Analyze if you are hitting your zones and getting the proper workload. Did you make TrainingPeaks turn green? You want to make sure you are making progress and improving. You can take that a step further and see if your CTL (Chronic Training Load) is rising and also keep an eye on your TSB (Training Stress Balance) for fatigue levels. Even though the hours may be short you still need to have those rest days and weeks. To set up your Performance Manager Chart and track your CTL/ATL/TSB read our training tip here.

Here are 4 FUN 1 hour Indoor Workouts:

2. Tempo/Zone 5 VO2 Criss Cross: 3 x 10 minutes. Ride Sweet Spot and alternate between sustained sweet spot and VO2 power for the 10 minute interval.3. Zone 4/5 Bursts: Watch a football game a make a Zone 4/5 burst during the plays.  Rest in-between and during the commercials

4. Zwift: 4 laps total and ride in your Sweet Spot for laps 2 and 4.
The possibilities are really endless! For example, you can change up the intensity and number of laps on Zwift, or even join one of the many group rides or virtual races! As mentioned above use the new workout export feature in TrainingPeaks to send all the structured variable power workouts from your training calendar directly to your SmartTrainer.  So all you have to do is pedal!

Set yourself up for success! Make sure you have everything you need for your trainer session to make it as fun, comfortable and effective as possible! Indoor training does not need to be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, yet it can just be another stroll in the park doing what you love! Get out there, or rather on it in there, and ride!
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About Jake Rytlewski

Jake Rytlewski grew up racing in Michigan at 15 after his Dad picked up cycling as a hobby. Not being able to clip in fast enough before being dropped he quickly found solutions such as double sided mountain bike pedals and track standing. Coaching was always in his blood. He accepted a cycling scholarship to Marian University in 2002 and while there spent a summer racing in Belgium and signed his first pro contract. Jake graduated in 2006 with a degree in sports management and continued to race as a pro for 9 years. He joined FasCat in 2013 and has been coaching full time since. Currently Jake is living the dream in Indiana raising his 3 kids, coaching others to make them faster and to reach their goals and racing in the full time Dad category on Zwift.

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