Whether you use a turbo trainer, rollers or smart bike, indoor cycling has become increasingly popular among cyclists and triathletes of all abilities. It’s time-efficient and allows for more specific and focused sessions than you’d get riding outside.
I use my turbo trainer regularly and have made big improvements in my power, strength and endurance since I started riding indoors, but it has taken a while to get the set up perfect. Here are my top tips for indoor cycling and getting set up for success:
Pick your position
Ideally, your turbo trainer should live somewhere you can keep it permanently set up so it’s always ready to ride. Of course this is not realistic for everyone, I have to set up and pack away every time as our ‘pain cave’ doubles up as our home office.
You’ll need to be close to a power source and have a reliable wifi connection. Set up on a level, hard surface and make sure your bike is securely attached to the trainer before you start riding. Everything you need should be within arms reach, so you might need a small table to store your drinks, nutrition and towels.
Given the reduced ventilation and lack of natural wind while riding indoors, things can get very hot and sweaty. Without a breeze, you can overheat really quickly so a decent fan is a must to create a cooling flow of air. Even positioning yourself close to an open window or door will help.
As well as causing chafing and sores, sweat is actually highly corrosive to your bike. Don’t neglect your bike maintenance just because you are not riding it outdoors. Clean your bike down regularly with an anti-bacterial spray, and consider a product like Muc-Off Sweat Protect to leave a protective anti-corrosive layer on your bike’s frame.
Drape a towel over your handlebars and keep a few extras within reach to wick away perspiration. You’ll also drip sweat onto the floor, so lay down a mat underneath your turbo trainer to protect your surfaces. This will also help to reduce vibration and noise.
Choose your kit
Of course, you can wear your outdoor riding kit on the turbo trainer, but to maximise comfort it’s worth investing in some indoor-specific kit. Clothing designed for indoor cycling is lightweight and extremely breathable, which improves body temperature regulation and ensures sweat is transferred in the most efficient way.
These adidas Primeknit cycling bib shorts have a mesh back panel to allow maximum ventilation, while the seam-free design minimises chafing. I prefer to wear a sports bra, but you can get lightweight jerseys for indoor cycling.
When choosing an indoor cycling shoe, look for ones with a light upper material and added breathability. These adidas indoor cycling shoes are a great option for keeping your feet cool while riding. They’re also easy to slip on and off due to the velcro strap closure.
Stay hydrated and fuelled
Staying hydrated is vital on indoor rides. Drop some electrolyte tabs into your water bottle to help replenish minerals lost through sweat and to avoid cramps. I aim to take on 500-750ml per hour during my rides.
Have a light snack 1-3 hours before your ride, such as granola, a banana, toast. Workouts less than 60 minutes in length, shouldn’t need additional fuelling, but for longer sessions aim to take on some fuel. As a rule of thumb, for rides over 90 minutes take on 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour.
Choose your entertainment
Indoor cycling has been totally transformed with the introduction of apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad and Wahoo System (formerly The Sufferfest). These platforms immerse you into a virtual world where you can ride with others, experience different routes or complete challenge and workouts. They are all pretty easy to set up and connect to your trainer or bike.
Make your training more enjoyable by watching a film, TV show or listening to music as you ride. It’s proven that listening to music while training boosts motivation and provides distraction from discomfort. If you are watching a film while riding, consider the position of your screen- too low or too high can cause neck and shoulder pain.
All items worn were gifted by adidas, but all opinions are my own.
How do you get set up for success when cycling indoors?