It's easy to get bored when you're riding endless "miles" in your basement while winter weather rages outside. Here's some suggestions for ways to shake things up and get the most out of your indoor training.
Heart Rate Monitor: A heart rate monitor is a great way to tell how hard you're working. Your heart rate should be in Zone 1 (60-65% of Max Heart Rate) for easy/recovery riding, Zone 2 (65-70% MHR) for endurance training, Zone 3 (80-85% MHR) for aerobic capacity training, and Zone 4 (80-85% MHR) for lactate threshold training. If you don't know your Max Heart Rate, a very general rule of thumb is 220 minus your age.
Start Out Easy: During the winter and early months of training, it's best to do longer periods of time in Zone 1 and lower Zone 2. This type of riding slowly builds cardiovascular endurance. You're also training your body to burn more enery using lipid or fat stores and return more glycogen in the body for those days when you do intervals and harder workouts. If you don't have a heart rate monitor, you can tell if your heart rate is in the right range by whether or not you can carry on a conversation without being out of breath.
Mix Up Your Workouts: Alternate hard workouts with easy workouts. Try for at least one hard workout day per week, three weeks a month, but make sure you mix this with days of easier workouts to let your muscles recover. A hard workout is 45-60 minutes in Zone 3 or 2-3 intervals of 10-20 minutes in Zone 4, with 10-15 minutes in Zone 1 between the intervals. An easy workout is 45-60 minutes in Zones 1-2.
Cool Down: Try to spend 5-10 minutes in Zone 1 or below at the end of each workout to cool down.
Short Workouts: Don't spend so long on the trainer that you get tired of using it. It's better to spend less time each session and use it at least once or twice a week than to spend a long time on each session but only use it once every few weeks.
Sprints: Try some sprints occasionally—pedal fast in as hard a gear as you can for 1-3 minutes, then slow down and relax until you're breathing normally.
One-Legged Pedaling: Try some one-legged workouts. Put a chair next to your bike so that you can move one foot out of the way and pedal with just the other one. This helps develop a nice even stroke so that you are using your muscles more efficiently for the full pedal stroke—not just when you're pushing down.
Watch TV: Try setting up your trainer in front of the TV so that you can watch your favorite show or a movie while riding. Vary your pace with the on-screen action (a good chase scene can help here!). You might also enjoy watching tapes or DVDs of bicycle races such as the Tour de France while you work out, to get into the spirit. Training DVDs are also available to take you through a good workout; some trainers come with these.
Got your own ideas for fun trainer workouts? Let us know! Call us at 1-800-682-0570 or email us at [email protected].