“I love riding the trainer!” – said no one – ever! The trainer can be a love / hate relationship. As a training aid, you love it because it offers training options during poor weather and winter months. Yet, on the flip side, trainer rides can be boring, lead to muscle- specific fatigue, and basically, offer uninspired riding. Ugh. Is there a way to make it work? Yes! There is! With a mixture of planning and dose of discipline, you can motivate yourself to get in quality trainer rides. Here’s how.
First and foremost, set up your trainer right. Having the right equipment and bike parts can make your indoor workouts less boring and more effective. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, indoor riding clothes, a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor. You might not think all of these cycling accessories add up to a great trainer workout, but according to the post, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trainer, it can make all the difference in the world. Aside from the actual cycling components, setting up your trainer right means creating an inviting cycling environment. Do you need bright lights to keep you motivated? An upbeat playlist? Be mindful to the “little things” that either inspire you or detract you from getting on the trainer. By noticing those elements that dissuade you, you can take actions to create a better trainer environment for yourself.
Another way to make riding indoors work is to shorten your ride and add strength training to your workouts. One way to do this is to avoid long rides on the trainer all together. Year round strength training for cyclists matters and substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than doing another trainer session. In fact, a one hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer. So, plan your time on the trainer accordingly and substitute ride time for strength training time.
Sometimes seeing is believing! Keep your motivation strong with visual effects. Pop in a DVD training video or select a few YouTube clips to get your mind in the game. Posters, a vision board, books, maps, apps, or pictures of upcoming races can trigger your motivation to not only get on the bike, but maybe even dig a little deeper than you would have otherwise. If that doesn’t motivate you, another option is to focus on form. One way to improve form is by not rocking your hips while seated and spinning. Maintaining level hips, along with a tight core will place more emphasis on the leg muscles, working them just a little harder through the revolution. This will lead to increased leg strength over time. The torso, shoulders and arms also need to be engaged at all times. Focusing on strong arms, bent elbows and a strong upper torso will increase upper body muscle endurance, being of great value on race day. Shifting your mental focus to your riding form can make the minutes on the trainer tick away faster.
Granted, trainer rides will never replace the joy of cycling outside. However, you can take pride in that you are getting your rides in and building your cycling base for the season ahead.