Einstein was a clever old chap, there’s no denying that, but what he may have lacked in knowledge behind the science of turbo training he certainly made up for in other areas – most notably his theory of relativity, whatever that is? “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour” Albert once said.
Likewise, in cycling terms, an hour out on the open road can pass in all but a few minutes whereas an hour on the turbo trainer can seem like forever. Now that’s relativity we can all relate to! So let’s find out how to beat the boredom and maximise your turbo time.
“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour”. A.Einstein
The location in which you set-up your turbo trainer, albeit the garage, shed, or in the house, offers a more stable and controlled environment than the outside world. No wind, rain, roundabouts or traffic to contend with means that there’s no distractions or danger to prevent you from a quality workout.
Try to find a location with good ventilation, open windows to promote the flow of fresh air and use a fan to keep your body cool.
Try to find a location with good ventilation, open windows to promote the flow of fresh air and use a fan to keep your body cool. Despite best intentions at some point it’s likely to turn into a sweat-fest so have a towel to hand and position your bike and turbo on a suitable mat. If you’re using a trainer that raises the rear wheel from the floor then balance this out by using a front wheel elevator block (or equivalent such as a book). Being able to watch something on the computer, television or having music on tap to get you in the rhythm can be a big help.
Intervals vs Duration
Deciding whether to do a longer, more consistent, effort or a session of higher intensity comes down to a number of factors including:
What are the overall goals that you’re working towards? How much time are you expecting to be on the trainer each week? Is turbo training a substitute when you can’t get outside, or a structured part of your training plan? Your motivation and concentration levels.
If you’re going to spend a lot of time indoors then mix up the week with a combination of intervals, mid-level endurance and recovery rides.
If you only intend to set-up the turbo once in a while, when it really isn’t possible to get out on the road, then a session that more closely replicates a base ride may be an option. However, the prospect of sitting on the turbo week-in-week out spinning the legs for hours with little stimulus outside of this can be enough to crack even the hardiest of riders before they even get started. If you’re going to spend a lot of time indoors then mix up the week with a combination of intervals, mid-level endurance and recovery rides. Don’t forget, with no distractions you’ll be freewheeling and stopping far less than when you’re outside so you may find that a shorter session on the turbo can be equally effective as a longer ride on the road.
Even with the best will in the world it can be hard to maintain your concentration whilst taking your mind off the fact that you’re pedalling but aren’t actually going anywhere. As with any longterm training plan keeping motivated is a critical element in giving you the potential to reach your goals. So how is this possible on the turbo trainer?
Having the iPad or laptop within arms reach can open up a whole world of videos and movies with the benefit of viewing whilst you workout as opposed to just sitting on the sofa.
If you find that you train well to music then turn up the tunes and use the rhythm to get you in the zone. Having the iPad or laptop within arms reach can open up a whole world of videos and movies with the benefit of viewing whilst you workout as opposed to just sitting on the sofa. Or why not watch something that has been specifically produced for such indoor endeavors? The Sufferfest training videos have proved to be a popular choice mixing real race footage with upbeat music to provide structured workouts that pitch you head-to-head with the pro’s.
Group vs Solo
Training on your own or with a group will depend on several things such as what session are you planning, does it fit in with a partner / friend’s training schedule, do you have enough space and enough time to travel to the location if it’s away from your house? It could be that you find a couple of friends with similar goals and rotate the sessions from house-to-house on a weekly basis, making an evening of it whilst training and catching up. If you have a very specific training program then solo sessions are normally better so that it’s possible to concentrate fully on the job in hand.
Such is the virtual world that we now live in, training with a group doesn’t necessarily mean inviting your friends around. Say what? Enter the ‘Virtual Reality’ turbo trainer.
However, such is the virtual world that we now live in, training with a group doesn’t necessarily mean inviting your friends around. Say what? Enter the ‘Virtual Reality’ turbo trainer. Although more expensive than a regular turbo, with prices starting around the £350 mark, a VR equipped turbo enables you to compete against others online or take part in virtual races across some of the most famous terrain whilst resistance is automatically adjusted depending on what part of the course you’re on. Clever stuff indeed, Albert would be impressed!
Monitoring Effort with HR / Power
As with all training, aside from going on ‘feel’, monitoring your effort with heart rate, power, or both is useful to understand your fitness and athletic capabilities. Over time you’ll establish your exertion levels and by documenting your training it’ll be possible to identify improvements or know when you’re fatigued.
Over time you’ll establish your exertion levels and by documenting your training it’ll be possible to identify improvements.
Obviously, if you already have a heart rate monitor or power unit fitted to the bike that you’ll use on the turbo then you can simply just use these. Otherwise look for a turbo that offers such functions. Whilst both heart rate and power offer meaningful performance measures remember that heart rate can fluctuate due to tiredness, room temperature and general stress levels whereas power is an indication of the actual force that you’re able to generate so is therefore a more reliable and consistent measure.
Enjoy your turbo time!
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