Indoor training on a busy schedule allows riders with limited time a quick, focussed and effective way to train. With the help of ultra-endurance cyclist, Laura Scott, we explain why indoor cycling is essential for time-crunched cyclists.
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Indoor cycling can save you time when it comes to fitting workouts into your busy schedule. Whilst, outdoor cycling has many benefits, it can also require a lot of time. You’ll need to gear up, plan your route, check your tyres, and even then you might have to wait for the weather to settle before you get pedalling. This can all take time out of your already busy day, whether you’re trying to squeeze a ride between work or looking after the kids. Not only that, but the time you do spend on the road, might not always provide an effective workout.
Riding on the road can include a surprising amount of freewheeling and dead time spent at traffic lights and junctions, whereas, when training on an indoor smart bike, every pedal stroke counts. What’s more, it’s warmer inside and you can dodge the wet and windy conditions.
Wattbike indoor bike trainers are ready when you are - requiring no assembly, you can stay at home - get on and go! This means, whatever time of year your schedule is busiest, whether visiting family during the holidays, or being at home with the kids in summer. You can still incorporate cycling into your winter training or summer fitness goals with indoor cycling.
With that in mind, how should you fit workouts into a busy schedule?
The temptation when riding indoors is to focus on high intensity interval training or HIIT. These are quick efforts at a very high intensity, with short periods of rest in between. Whilst pushing yourself at your upper limits has been shown to improve your cycling endurance, as well as power, lactate threshold and speed, HIIT alone is not going to cut it when you’re climbing upwards of 2,000m a day for several days back to back.
Former British criterium champion Dean Downing says:
“HIIT sessions will increase your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or sustained power,” [...] “And if that’s all you have time for you’ll still see gains in your fitness over time. However, for endurance riding ‘sweet spot’, or sub-threshold, training is a better option.”
Riding sub-threshold equates to cycling at around 85-90% of your FTP or in Zone 3, where you can speak one or two short sentences at a time.
“Because this kind of controlled, steady-state training is repeatable, you can perform an impressive number of sub-threshold intervals without going into the red, which improves your aerobic performance,” says Downing. “It also mimics the intensity of riding you should aim for when you climb, making it a good option for riders training for the Haute Route,” adds Downing.
Ultra-endurance cyclist, Laura Scott, explains why indoor training is the best way to get fit, especially when you are stretched for time:
“I have personally always struggled with balancing work and training. Add family, friends and other commitments into the equation, and some days it can feel impossible to get out and ride.
“On weekdays I would often get up at 4:45am to try and do a few laps of a local park before work, but to be honest I never felt like I was getting quality training in, and by the time 7pm rolled around I was usually ready for bed.”
“There are lots of different schools of thought on training; my approach as an endurance cyclist was always to ride as much as possible. This was obviously not sustainable, especially as I travel a lot for work and 14+ hour days are the norm. It was frustrating that even with the best intentions, I was finding it hard to stick to any kind of training plan.”
“Eventually, I admitted defeat and turned to indoor bike trainers. I had resisted for ages because I believed it would be boring and didn’t see how it would benefit endurance, but the first time I tried the Wattbike Atom, I realised my preconceptions had been wrong.”
Fed up of getting home late from work and having to pick between the TV and indoor training? Here are Laura Scott’s 4 reasons for why you should use a Wattbike to train if you have a busy schedule:
“If you don’t have the luxury of 25 hours a week to ride your bike, indoor training can help you make the most out of the odd hour here and there that you do have."
"With a Wattbike, you can simply jump straight on the trainer and spend more time actually pedalling, minimising the wasted time. For example, you can get in 20 to 30 minutes of intervals, as well as a warm up and a cool-down, without worrying about getting out to an open road.”
“Through the Wattbike Hub app, there are loads of training programmes to pick from. They cover everything from riding your first sportive, to training for Haute Route, one of the toughest amateur cycling events. They make sure you have no junk miles… or in other words, it allows you to spend more time in key heart rate or power zones, with no time lost to stopping at junctions or freewheeling down the hills. It is all about quality over quantity.”
“One of the most impressive things about the Atom is its ability to measure hundreds of data points every second. These get uploaded into your personal Wattbike Hub page - where you can evaluate your performance and track your cycling goals.
As an amateur cyclist, I don’t take the data too seriously, but get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing how I am improving and what I need to improve.”
“Other than heart rate, power and the usual stats, the Atom also measures PES otherwise known as your Pedal Effectiveness Score. This measures your net force and predicts your gross force alongside a sliding scale for each leg. The colour-coded breakdown acts as a guide, to stay within green for the most effective use of power. This real-time data makes it possible to tweak your pedal technique ‘live’ until efficient cycling becomes second nature overall helping you to become a better cyclist.”
“Despite what people would have you believe, indoor training can be fun! After a long day at work, I find nothing helps me to clear my head better than 45-60 minutes on the Wattbike. There is a wide variety of training plans and compatible cycling apps to pick from, so I rarely find myself doing the same thing twice. From cadence drills, hill reps, speed intervals, over-unders… all which will help enhance your cycling fitness, and make the time fly by. Plus it certainly beats riding around a park by yourself in the freezing cold, dark and rain.”
Cycling indoors can be a hot and sweaty business because there’s no air rushing past your face to cool you down. Overheating can cause your heart rate to increase more than it would if you were training outside and this can cause you to tire quicker than usual.
Training with an indoor cycling fan pointed at you is an easy way to keep cool. You will also sweat (a lot) riding inside and you need to replace that lost fluid - as a guide aim to drink 500-750ml of water per hour. And make sure you have a towel to hand to stop sweat streaming down your face into your eyes
At Wattbike, we provide unparalleled cycling data to fuel your fitness and progress. Whether you’re looking to improve your climbing, or train for Tour de France stages, you can find everything you need with a Wattbike indoor bike trainer.
About the Author:
Laura Scott is a Canadian ultra-endurance cyclist based in London. She picked up cycling six years ago after deciding to do a charity ride from Paris to London. She immediately fell in love with endurance cycling and became a bit obsessed with the idea of cycling across countries.
In 2016 she took part in the Trans America bike race and rode over 2200 miles unsupported after fracturing her collarbone and dislocating her shoulder after being hit by a car. She has since taken part in a number of endurance events including The TransAtlantic Way, LEJOG, and North Coast 500 amongst others.