You don’t have to give up riding your bike just because there’s snow on the ground or a bad rainstorm. Most road bikes, triathlon bikes and comfort bikes can be mounted on an indoor bicycle trainer. In just a few minutes, you can turn your own bike into a stationary bike and do a variety of workouts in the comfort of your own living room.
Long, Easy Rides
The most basic workout you can do on your bike trainer is a long, easy ride. This may sound boring, but if you’re new to cycling or are an athlete at the beginning of a race season, these are the workouts you need to build endurance. The long, easy rides are simple; just hop on your bike and ride at a pace at which you can carry on a conversation. If you're a beginner, your long, easy ride may begin as a 30-minute session. As you build fitness, extend your ride for up to an hour or more. Use this ride to practice good form. If you can, place your trainer near a mirror so that you can check your form occasionally. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your elbows should be slightly bent and your knees should track in line with your hips as you pedal.
Once you build some endurance, start adding some intervals into your workouts to break up the monotony and get your heart pumping. Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes at and easy pace, then alternate hard efforts with easy efforts. The length of your intervals will depend on your fitness level and goals. For example, if you’re new to cycling, start with five sets of two minutes pedaling quickly followed by five minutes at an easy pace. If you’re an advanced rider, make your hard intervals longer or your easy intervals shorter. Don’t forget to cool down with at least 10 minutes of easy riding after your last hard effort. Depending on the amount of intervals you complete, your interval rides will take about 45 to 90 minutes, including the warm-up and cooldown.
As you shift to a higher gear on your bike, you will feel more resistance on the pedals. You can mimic climbing a hill by shifting into a higher gear and slowing your cadence, or pedaling speed. Make the hills as long or as short as you choose. For example, after a 10- to 20-minute warm-up, shift into a high gear and mimic riding up a long hill for 15 minutes and then rest by riding in a low gear before shifting back into a high gear to ride up another long hill for 15 minutes. If you want to mimic short rolling hills, alternate riding in a high gear and a low gear for shorter amounts of time. End your hill workout with at least 10 minutes of riding in a low gear.
If you use a heart rate monitor or your indoor trainer provides heart rate information, this can be a useful tool for this workout. For long, easy rides, keep your heart rate between 60 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. A general rule for figuring your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. When doing interval or hill workouts, your heart rate may range from 75 to 85 percent of your max for the hard intervals. Allow your heart rate to return to 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate before starting the next interval. If at any time during your workout you feel dizzy or experience pain in any of your joints, stop the workout and consult a doctor.
- Serious Cycling; Edmund R. Burke
- Every Woman's Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race; Selene Yeager
Lisa Thompson has been writing since 2008, when she began writing for the Prevention website. She is a holistic health practitioner, nationally certified massage therapist and National Council on Strength and Fitness-certified personal trainer. Thompson also holds certificates in nutrition and herbology from the Natural Healing Institute, as well as a Master of Education from California State University.