Many people use bike trainer workouts as a chance to exercise while they are engaged in some other task such as watching TV or working on their laptops. This results in spending a long time on the indoor bike trainer performing moderate impact exercise which, as any athlete should know, does not serve as a good workout and can actually be detrimental to one's fitness.
If you are serious about using an indoor bike trainer as an alternative to cycling outdoors when the weather is bad, or simply for convenience, you need to plan your workout to the same extent as you would when outdoors. Bike trainer workouts are your chance to plan every detail as you wish without having to worry about interruptions. If you need inspiration and want a well-structured workout, try some of the following ideas.
For all these bike trainer workouts, start with a warm-up of gentle spinning lasting for 10 to 15 minutes and end with a 7- to 10-minute cool down.
1. Drill Ride
Begin with four sets of 30-second one-footers, with two minutes of recovery of easy spinning using both feet in between each set. One-footers are performed by removing the cleat from the pedal and resting your foot on the frame of the trainer. Work on achieving a smooth movement using one foot and then the other.
The second drill consists of four spin-ups, each lasting 30 seconds, again with a two-minute recovery between. Start by spinning at 90 rpm in a moderate gear and gradually increase the cadence without switching gear. After 15 seconds, you should have reached your fastest spin pace, which you will hold for a further 15 seconds.
2. Interval Ride
Using a high gear, pedal hard for two minutes, while measuring your training intensity to ensure you are at the desired level. Recover for three minutes with some gentle spinning. Begin this routine with just three intervals, but increase the number to four or five after practicing for some time. Once you have practiced for a while at a higher number of intervals, you can increase the duration of your effort and, later still, reduce your recovery time.
3. Speed Intervals
Start with four sets of one-minute, fast intervals in an easy gear at the highest possible cadence, ensuring you keep your perceived rate of exertion (RPE) at 5, and recover for two minutes between each interval. After the final set, extend your recovery time to five minutes. Next, carry out 10 to 12 intervals of 30 seconds, sitting or standing, at RPE 9 to 9.5. Recover for 30 seconds between each. Over time, you can make the second half of the workout harder by increasing the intervals until you reach 20 in total.
4. Hill Climbs
If you will have to climb hills when you are competing outdoors, it is a good idea to practice during your bike trainer workouts. Simulate a hill by raising your bike's front wheel, and ride three sets of 10-minute intervals at RPE 8. Every two minutes, stand up for 12 to 15 pedal strokes at a near all-out effort. Recover for 10 minutes between each set. As you progress, you can increase the difficulty of the workout by doing two intervals of 15 minutes while keeping a 10 minute recovery, then three sets for 12 minutes with just six minutes recovery, and finally reaching two sets for 20 minutes with 10 minutes recovery.