The triathlon cycling training solution to get fit quick…
What’s the most effective form of cycling training for triathlon? You may not like the answer but it’s a turbo trainer (or wind-trainer). I’ve coached many athletes who improved their Functional Threshold Power by a whopping 20 watts in six weeks, just by riding three times per week indoors.
What are the benefits? It’s safe, reliable and effective, There are no cars, no junctions, no potholes, no rain and no free-wheeling. It’s all about the workout and nothing else. Yes, it’s boring, but you can’t argue it’s effectiveness.
Thankfully the modern world offers us plenty of solutions to make indoor-cycling more fun. And the more your enjoy it, the better you’ll train.
Here are four solutions…
Some turbo trainers connect to a computer so that you can ride through an on-screen world, a bit like a computer game. They give you a wealth of useful data such as power output and pedaling spin-scan, and provide you with enough resistance to mimic the hills you climb. You can even save your rides and ride against yourself next time. Examples include Computrainer and the Tacx Ironman. More recently there’s also Zwift – an online virtual cycling world that enables you to ride against others. They even have organised group events to take part in. What’s not to like?
One of the biggest physical limiters when cycling indoors is a high body temperature. There’s no breeze to cool you off, so you simply overheat. If you’re serious about training indoors in the summer you need a fan and a cheap portable air-conditioning unit to keep you cool. If you can avoid overheating you’ll be able to ride harder for longer. You’ll probably enjoy it more too.
A Good Trainer
There’s a big difference between a good indoor trainer and a bad one. A bad indoor trainer is noisy, hard to set up and feels like you’re riding a BMX on the seabed. You don’t have to buy the priciest, but you do need to do some research first. Websites like BikeRadar.com are a good place to start, where you can see reviews of all the recent models. Although I’ve never tried one I hear rave reviews about the LeMond Revolution trainer, although other similar types are available too.
Occupy Your Mind
To offset the boredom of indoor training, it’s essential that you keep your mind occupied. Start with data – things like speed, resistance, cadence, heart rate and power are all excellent ways to structure and measure your training and they give you something to focus on.
As a bare minimum you should use a cheap heart rate monitor such as the Polar FT1, which can be picked up from as little as £31. Music helps too – research shows that certain genres of music can help you train harder. Watching TV and video works for some people, whether it’s on a smart phone, tablet, laptop or 50” plasma screen.
In short, the more entertainment you have, the better you’ll train and the faster you’ll be on race day.
By Phil Mosley. Triathlon Plus Coaching Editor, Ironman Certified Coach
Founder, My Pro Coach