How To Improve Cycling Power

There’s no getting away from it, cycling is a time-consuming sport that can easily eat up all your spare time.

By the time you factor in things like getting ready, cleaning your bike and filling your bottles, you’re left with little time for anything else. If you’re hoping to improve your cycling power, you’ll need to use your limited time wisely.

In order to leverage your time effectively, you need to make sure that every ride is a planned, structured workout, rather than simply a random ride. This can be hard when you’re training outdoors because the weather, traffic and terrain often get in the way. For these reasons, indoor cycle training is sometimes the best option for those moments when you simply don’t have time to hit the roads.

There are several benefits to indoor training from a time efficiency standpoint. You won’t need to put on loads of layers, just a pair of shorts and a top. And you won’t need to maintain your bike as often, because it won’t be subjected to mud and grit.

But perhaps the biggest benefit is that you can execute a great workout without wasting time freewheeling or slowing down for junctions. All you do is pedal! For this reason, indoor training gives you the best bang for your buck. Sure, it can be pretty dull at times, but there are ways to make it more fun. Think of indoor cycling as a useful addition to your training repertoire, rather than a replacement for the joys of riding outside.

The secret is to invest time and a little money in getting your home trainer set-up right, so you can reap the benefits in the future. You’re better off spending a month getting this right, rather than taking shortcuts and training badly for years to come. With the right kit, indoor cycling can be fun, motivational and extremely potent. If you settle for the cheapest and easiest indoor trainer setup, you’ll soon get bored and want to quit.

To help you improve your cycling power, here are five essential indoor cycling tips.

1. Be Ready

Whatever indoor training option you go for, be it a static bike such as a WattBike or a trainer such as the excellent Wahoo Kickr, you need it to be ready to go at all times. There’s nothing more demotivating than spending half your training time setting everything up from scratch.

If you’re using a wind trainer, you need a dedicated bike that is always attached to it. A cheap or old bike is fine, as it’s only for indoor use. You also need a dedicated space, be it a small room, garage or shed so you don’t waste time moving things around.

2. Stay Cool

Indoor cycling can feel particularly unpleasant at times. Often this is caused by heat stress rather than pure cycling fatigue. Without a cooling breeze to evaporate the moisture on your skin, your core body temperature will soon rise. Before you know it, your brain will tell you to slow down or stop.

Having a big fan blowing directly at you will make a massive difference here. In fact, it will enable you to sustain 10-30 watts more power for the same perceived effort, just because you’re feeling cooler. On particularly hot days, you may also benefit from a standalone air conditioning unit to take the edge off the heat.

3. Measure Power

Power is a direct measure of how hard and fast you pedal, expressed in watts. It’s a great gauge of your performance because there are no variables like hills or wind to confuse matters. It also helps you make the most of your indoor sessions by giving you something to aim for all the time.

Power also acts as a reliable yardstick of your fitness levels. If you don’t have a power meter you can use software such as Trainer Road (trainerroad.com) which estimates your power output based on the flywheel speed of your indoor trainer.

4. Engage Your Brain

To make the most of any indoor workout, you need to come up with ways to engage your brain so that you don’t get bored. Some athletes can read a book or watch a film while they ride, whereas others find it harder to focus. If you have a spare TV screen and a DVD player or computer, there are several options to consider including cycle workout DVD’s (spinervals.com), real-time workout graphs (trainerroad.com) and even virtual reality cycling with other riders (zwift.com). Whichever option you choose, they all beat staring at the wall.

5. Feel The Beat

A number of scientific studies demonstrate the positive effects of music on motivation levels during exercise such as indoor cycling. Once you find the right music for your tastes, you’ll find it easier to focus on pedalling hard without your brain wandering all over the place.

Thankfully it’s never been easier to access a wide range of music for exercise. Using a smartphone, tablet or computer you can access streaming radio from all over the world as well as streaming music services such as Apple Music and Spotify. They include playlists of music created for working out and they are free if you don’t mind hearing the occasional advert.

-- CONTENT CONTINUES BELOW --
Big news...
We've made some of our plans 100% FREE! Choose your event below...

*Plus, you’ll also receive free regular training tips from head coach Phil Mosley! Unsubscribe at any time.

3 Time Efficient Bike Workouts

Whether you’re training indoors or enjoying the fresh air, here are three of the best cycle sessions when you’re short on time.

1. Threshold Workout For Improving Your 1-Hour Cycling Power.

Total Time: 50 minutes

Warm Up
10 minutes easy/steady. 75-80% of your max heart rate. Or 65-75% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP). 

Main Set
2, 4, 6, 8, 10 minutes hard, 87-91% of your max heart rate. Or 95-100% of your FTP.
Plus 60-second recoveries.

Warm Down
5 minutes easy. 70-75% of your max heart rate. Or 60-70% of your FTP

2. Aerobic Workout For Improving Your Endurance.

Total Time: 1 hour.

Warm Up
10 minutes easy. 70-75% of your max heart rate. Or 60-70% of your FTP

Main Set
8 x 5 mins steady. 75-80% of your max heart rate. Or 65-75% of FTP. All with 60-second recoveries.

Warm Down
5 minutes easy. 70-75% of your max heart rate. Or 60-70% of your FTP

3. Torque Workout For Improving Cycling Power

Total Time: 45 minutes.

Warm Up
10 minutes easy/steady, at your normal cadence. 75-80% of your max heart rate. Or 65-75% of FTP.

Main Set
5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3 minutes moderately hard, 80-85% of your max heart rate. Or 75-88% of FTP.
All in a big gear at a cadence of 60rpm. Plus 60-second easy spin recoveries.

Warm Down
5 minutes easy at your normal cadence. 70-75% of your max heart rate. Or 60-70% of your FTP.

Share
Share
Share
Share
Print
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised endurance expert who founded MyProCoach in 2010 to offer smart training plans that still leave quality time for your family, friends & career - complete with highly-rated coach support (he has sold over 40,000 so far). Learn more here!

Popular Articles from the Training Tips Blog

ONGOING FREE ADVICE FROM RECOGNISED EXPERT PHIL MOSLEY

Get Phil's best training tips via email!

I promise to never sell your information or send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Big news...

We've made some of our plans 100% FREE!

Choose your event:
5.0/5 from 320+ reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Plus, you’ll also receive free training advice via email from head coach Phil Mosley! Unsubscribe at any time.

Planning Your Off-Season

You can start our Off-Season (Fitness Maintenance) plans anytime you like.

They’re designed to help you maintain a good level of fitness when you’re not specifically targeting an event, such as, during the off-season, or anytime you’re taking a break from racing.

Planning For Your Event

For the best outcome, input the date for your “A” target race and the tool will default to a plan that will fill that gap nicely. If you want, you can then adjust the plan length to start it on a different day.

Note that you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan too!

Unlimited Athlete Price Rise - Dec 1st 2021

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, after 2 hugely successful years of our Unlimited Athlete subscription with over 1300 active members, we’ve decided to increase our prices for the first time on December 1st.

The feedback has been outstanding (rated 5.0 from 100’s of testimonials), and recently we’ve also added further personal coach time… For example, our coaches now check your personalised training zones are set up correctly, and also keep you accountable by getting in touch if you haven’t logged any training for 2 weeks.

So, to maintain this great customer service and to support our coaches, on Dec 1st we’re increasing both price options by $5 per month, or by $4 per month if you pay annually (but for all existing Unlimited Athletes, to give a fair warning, renewals will not increase in price until Feb 1st, 2022).

Lock-In Prices, Plus an Extra $20-Off!

For Black Friday, we are also giving a bonus $20 off any new annual subscription! Our annual prices are going up by $4 per month, or $48 per year. This means if you sign up this week with our bonus $20 off, you’ll be saving $68 compared to our future annual pricing.

Which comes down to as little as $3.55 per week for unlimited training plans and ongoing certified coach support. We can’t thank everyone enough for all your support!

The longer plans start easier and progress more gradually. This has a bearing on the difficulty level you choose. For example, a 12-week plan starts off at a higher level than a 36-week plan because with 12 weeks left there’s not as much opportunity to build up slowly.
Short Medium Long
Duration
4-12 weeks
14-24 weeks
27+ weeks
Required fitness level
Higher
Moderate
Lower
Training phases
2~4
5~7
8+
Fitness tests
1~2
3~4
5+
Our Standard and Masters plans are designed to get you ready for your target event, while our Off-Season plans allow you to recover from a tough season but still maintain your well-earned fitness.
STANDARD MASTERS OFF-SEASON
Approx. age
Under 40
Over 40
Any
Recovery weeks
Every 4 weeks
Every 3 weeks
N/A
Strength sessions
1-2 per week
2 per week
1-2 per week
Likely goal
Train for event
Train for event
Maintain fitness
This table provides a brief overview of which level might be right for you, to help you get the most out of your plan. You should also note your current fitness levels and how many times you have done this event before.
BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE ADVANCED
Experience
Little to none
1-3 years
3+ years
Time to train
Limited
Moderate
Ample
Likely goal
To finish
At least top half
Competitive
All our plans are available either for sale directly on the TrainingPeaks Store (where you can also see screenshots of sample weeks), or you can subscribe as an Unlimited Athlete to be able to swap freely between all of them, among other benefits outlined below.
BUY SUBSCRIBE
Price
$29 to $159 each
From $21/month
Flexible, structured training
TrainingPeaks training app
Coaching videos, articles & FAQs
Email coach support

During plan only

Anytime
Swap freely between all 900+ plans
Help setting up your training zones
Coach fortnightly engagement check
Discounted TrainingPeaks Premium
30-day moneyback guarantee
We're Sorry To See You Go!

Please confirm your cancellation below and one of our team will process it as soon as possible (stopping all future payments). Your subscription will still continue until the end of your current billing cycle (your “next payment date”) and there is nothing else you need to do.

Don’t worry, you will always be able to access your completed workouts and your TrainingPeaks login credentials will stay the same. Also, if any payments happen to come out before we cancel your subscription, we’ll simply refund them.