Even though triathlon is an outdoor sport, this doesn’t mean you can’t train in the comfort of your own home. Indoor cycling is especially useful for triathletes that want an efficient workout regardless of ongoing weather and pandemic restrictions outside. There are plenty of advantages to cycling at home, but it’s also important to note its limitations. We’ll be discussing the benefits and drawbacks of indoor cycling in this article, so read on to know more.
Each indoor session should be at least 60 to 90 minutes long depending on the level of the cyclist and the goal for the training session. An app to monitor your heart rate, distance covered, cadence, and optionally power is crucial when training indoors to maximize the advantage that your controlled environment gives you.
If using power, you’ll need to know your FTP (functional threshold power) so you can work efficiently within your training zones and achieve the appropriate length and intensity of the training session.
You should also strive to maintain good cycling form when indoors; the calmer environment will help you build habits faster, so make sure you’re holding your posture consistently and pushing evenly on those pedals.
Your home is the perfect training environment if you already have a jam-packed schedule and cannot afford to lose more time by traveling for training. Using a bike trainer also helps you avoid cancelling your session due to the weather. (No more excuses!)
Another thing you can do more efficiently indoors is highly specific interval training. Since you can’t coast on the bike trainer like you can on a real bike, the intensity will also increase. This is why most people say that 60 minutes on a bike trainer is equivalent to 90 minutes riding outside.
Speaking of interval training, using a bike trainer offers controllable intervals where you can measure power, RPE, and heart rate among others.
Since you’re riding in the comfort of your own home, there’s no threat of ongoing traffic that can cause unwanted accidents. Doing so helps you focus solely on your performance and mindset without having to worry about external factors (e.g., you can do an all-out interval without worrying whether an animal will suddenly cross the road).
Building better habits is crucial to a cyclist’s success. Your posture and pedalwork will improve as you hold your position on your bike and pedal continuously, helping you retain your form when under fatigue that carries across to race day.
Having a controlled setup can also help you easily adjust certain variables so that you can properly train with specificity – for instance, bumping up your heater thermostat so you can do some heat training in the dead of winter, or using an adjustable trainer attachment to simulate hills if you live in a very flat region.
The outdoors provides an ever-changing environment that you just cannot prepare for completely when you’re training at home. At some point in time, you’ll need to ride the bike outside so can apply the techniques you’ve learned in your indoor stint and adjust as needed.
Some courses are very technical as well, which puts a premium on bike handling and skills – and you can’t train for that with your bike clamped to one spot!
Lastly, training outdoors allows you to develop and hone a road sense/situational awareness which will help you deal with encountering traffic in a race (whether from vehicles or fellow cyclists).
Since you’re not actually moving around the house when doing indoor cycling, it can get really boring after some time. With no one to compete with, talk to, or even a change of scenery, you might be persuaded to give up much faster than you’d like.
You can add a little variety by integrating stuff such as music, watching shows or tracking your progress to counteract your impending boredom. Platforms like Zwift have also been a boon for those training mostly indoors as these provide challenge (different routes to discover, features to unlock, and badges and KOMs to collect), competition, and some element of socialising.
Indoor cycling can be an effective and efficient route to building a stronger bike leg when you return to racing triathlons. Do it wisely, and reap the benefits of “going nowhere, fast.”
(Header photo by Munbaik Cycling Clothing on Unsplash.)
Justin Granger writes about the elements of a successful ironman, and the one thing that brings them all together.
Gavin has been a member of MX Endurance for over a year and finished his first 70.3 in May with a new half marathon PB.
Race effort sessions help you learn to pace yourself and assess your goals so you can finish strong.