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We’re showcasing 10 of our favorite indoor cycling workouts from coaches around the country.
Bike Trainer Intensity Mix-Up
This workout comes from Bethany Rutledge, owner and head coach at Energy Lab, a power cycling studio in Atlanta, Ga., and coaching director of Atlanta Tri Club. “If you live in a colder climate and have been dreading using the trainer, here’s a time efficient set to ease into things focusing on form, aerobic fitness and, finally, aerobic capacity and neuromuscular firing,” Rutledge says. “Used smartly, focused trainer work can be an efficient tool to help you get stronger. This mix-up of intensities within the workout will also help keep your mind engaged and the hour fly by!”
Smooth Pedal Stroke Trainer Session
This session comes from Marilyn Chychota, a former elite cyclist and triathlete and now coach for Endurance Corner. “The session is designed for developing a smooth pedal stroke, efficiency and neuromuscular quickness in an aerobic zone,” Chychota says. “It also helps improve recovery and riding efficiency.”
Steady State Indoor Cycling Workouts (#1, #2, #3)
Coach Andrew Shanks, a coach for Dynamo Multisport based in Atlanta, Ga. He uses this set as part of a steady-state training buildup.
He suggests using power numbers as your first choice, otherwise you can use heart rate or perceived exertion as a measure of effort. Percentages are based on FTP/Lactate Threshold Heart Rate, etc.
‘Kitchen Sink’ Bike Trainer Workout
This one comes from Tony Zamora, the founder of TZCoaching based in Oak Park, Ill. Zamora recognizes that the trainer can be mind numbing, so he designed this “kitchen sink” workout filled with various types of intervals and drills. It’s suitable for every level of athlete, regardless of the distance you’re training for, and it can easily be adjusted to make it longer by adding in more repeats.
“It’s short, hard, and has everything you need in less than 60 minutes,” Zamora says. “What I love about this workout is that it forces you to think in smaller intervals, breaking up the trainer workout into manageable chunks. By the time you know it, you’ll be all done with the workout and asking for more! Or a nap.”
One-Hour Workout: Trainer Speed Pyramid
This workout comes from exercise physiologist, clinical/registered dietitian and USAT Level I coach Marni Sumbal of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition in Jacksonville, Fla. Sumbal says the goal of this workout is to raise your lactic threshold in order to produce more power—without expending extra energy—so that ultimately you can run strong with good form off the bike.
“No matter what distance triathlon you train for, the best training stress for the body is to get faster before you go longer,” Sumbal says. “The bike trainer provides the means for athletes who want to generate a heavy force load to the body, in a short amount of time, all while reaping quick performance gains with consistent training.”
“In order to increase your max sustainable power, here’s a 60-minute bike trainer workout that will keep you watching the clock—not because you are bored but because you are counting down the minutes until the (good) pain is over,” Sumbal says.
Indoor Trainer Cadence Builds
This one comes from the book One-Hour Workouts: 50 Swim, Bike, and Run Workouts for Busy Athletes by coaches Scott Molina, Mark Newton and Michael Jacques.
This session steps up the leg speed every 5 minutes while holding a constant speed or effort level. Ideally this session should be done on an indoor trainer where you can accurately manage your cadence. Cadence builds develop great leg speed and endurance with 10-RPM jumps every 5 minutes.
You’ll find that although you hold a constant RPM and pace on the bike, your RPM
and heart rate will typically go higher as the cadence increases.
As you become stronger, modify the up-down tempo set to ride at race pace and eliminate the recovery interval.
Bike Trainer Menagerie
This indoor cycling workout comes from Rhode Island-based John Houfek, who has been coaching multisport athletes through Raven Triathlon Coaching for more than 20 years. Below is Houfek’s favorite indoor trainer workout, combining drills, strength and intervals all done in an hour.
Four-Minute Indoor Cycling Workout Intervals
This indoor cycling workout comes from Justin Chester, a USAT Level II coach and the owner of TriCoach Colorado, based in Parker, Colo. “This workout is deceptively hard,” he says. “While the rest interval makes the set look easy, the intensity of the intervals makes it anything but. This is a perfect workout on the trainer during the winter months. A simple alternative would be to put on your favorite one-hour crime drama and sprint at upper Zone 5 for all of the commercial breaks.”