Bicycling doesn’t need to be a seasonal activity. If the weather outside is lousy or the days are short, you can still keep your fitness level up by working out on an indoor bike trainer. A bike trainer allows a person to train indoors on their own bike. You simply connect your rear wheel to the trainer so that you can pedal against a given resistance supplied by the trainer meaning you can change gear and brake as if outside while remaining stationary in the comfort of your own home.
"In my opinion the best advantage to owning one is you never have to put off training again..."
These are generally used by people wanting to improve their speed or stamina on their own bike rather than using a gym machine with the inappropriate set up. As a keen cyclist I know how depressing it is to look outside day after day and see heavy rain,and there’s never any fun in trying to battle the weather as well as your motivation to go out in the cold. So with a bike trainer you can simply set up indoors in a convenient space and pedal away for as long as you want.
Secondly they are relatively small to store when you are not using it and they run quietly so can be used early in the morning or late at night without disturbing anyone.From a fitness point of view they are great at allowing you to vary your training method, as they are stationary you can alter the resistance and speed to suit your needs rather than altering due to the landscape. For competitive cyclists it also means they train on their own bike which will have a very precise set up to maintain the optimum form. And for people wanting to lose weight you can set it up in front of the TV, browse on the iPad or read a book while cycling.
So what type of trainer do I need?
There are many types of trainers available on the market and its important to weigh up your needs and budget and then decide which type of trainer will suit you.
Here is a quick rundown of the types available and how they may benefit you.
Do I need to go SMART?
Trainers with interactive features offer the ultimate training experience. Imagine pedaling up the Alped’Huez while monitoring your heart-rate and pedaling power. These trainers—typically fluid, magneticor flywheel models—feature Bluetooth and/or ANT+ compatibility so you capture and share workout data (power output, heart rate, cadence, etc.) to your mobile device or computer. You’ll pay more for this feature, but it could give you a motivation you need to train regularly. A true smart trainer is different than a model with electronically controlled resistance. “Smart” means it can communicate to other devices to download a training program to, say, a phone-based app that automatically adjusts resistance, or syncs to online training platforms like Zwift. This is a premium feature and can significantly boost the price of a trainer, but for riders who want lots of variety, it may be worth the cost. Some third-party training platforms support non-connected trainers, but you’ll still need extras, like an external“speed” sensor from Garmin or CycleOps, and possibly a power meter as well.
Get the APP!
Arguably the biggest advance in indoor training over the past few years has been the proliferation of training program options to get the most out of your inside ride. There are at least a dozen companies—including Zwift, BKool, The Sufferfest, Kinetic, and Wahoo—offering indoor training solutions. Some are apps (iOS or Android); some are computer-based and may be Mac- or PC-specific. Some are one-time purchases while others offer subscriptions or pay-per-plan programs. Do some research and find one that suits your needs.
Get Started: Two Simple workouts on the trainer
So you got the trainer. Now what? Use these two great simple workouts to get your indoor training off the ground.