4 Programs That’ll Get You Psyched to Train Indoors

New smart trainers and real-time software have opened up a new way to work out against yourself and others.

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Just a few years ago, virtual reality training meant racing a grainy image of a runner or rider from a previous workout. The VR training of today is on a whole different level. New smart trainers and real-time software have opened up a new way to work out against yourself and others. Here are some of the most fun ways you can use VR training to get faster.

The Sufferfest

What it is: The Sufferfest is a series of videos that put you in the action of professional cycling, triathlon and running events to make you feel like you’re in the race.

What you need: $10 a month gets you access to all 34 videos, or you can download videos individually to view them on your mobile device or computer. Sufferfest can be used with any trainer, though smart trainers offer the best integration.

How it works: Simply open the Sufferfest app on your computer or mobile device and choose the workout you want. Each video has a specific training purpose with a series of different intervals to perform as you ride. Specifically for triathletes, The Sufferfest has added brick workouts you can do if you have a trainer and treadmill available.

Don’t have the gear?
There are many options to choose from if you want to feel like you are in a race. You can purchase videos from all major cycling events and triathlons, or simply search YouTube for great race footage to stay motivated. The UCI channel is one of our favorites.


What it is: A virtual reality app that lets you ride and race against others in real time.

What you need: A $10 monthly subscription will connect you to Zwift on your desktop computer. An iOS version is in the works. Zwift is most effective and realistic when paired with a smart trainer, but any trainer will work.

How it works: Zwift has many different “virtual” group rides, done in real time, each with a different focus. Try the World Bicycle Relief Daily Zwift Igniter ride, which combines a group component with some high-intensity VO2max intervals. Or ride the Zwift Race, a race among anyone who joins. Zwift also allows you to simply log on and start riding your own workout, or race a friend.

Don’t have the gear?
High-intensity intervals can easily be replicated on your regular trainer. One popular workout is Tabata intervals, done by going as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds. Start with two rounds of 10 minutes, then work your way up by adding time or more rounds.

Best Bike Split and TrainerRoad

What it is: BBS is a web application that allows you to create a power plan for any race based on a time goal or your current FTP (the highest possible power output you can sustain for one hour) using the actual course. TrainerRoad is a desktop and online app with a shared online workout library that sends the workouts to your smart trainer, or you can follow them on a standard trainer. You can also load pre-built workouts, which is how TrainerRoad works in conjunction with Best Bike Split.

What you need: A computer, a smart trainer and both TrainerRoad and Best Bike Split, which each have monthly and yearly subscription options.

How it works: Upload your BBS power plan into the TrainerRoad workout creator and your smart trainer will control your power so you ride your exact power plan on the same course you will race on.

Don’t have the gear?
Check out the course profile of your A priority race. See if you need to work on powering up hills, staying low on flats or a mix. Then work on those specific needs to be ready.

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