To keep you motivated and organised during the winter it’s useful to have a plan, no matter how basic it is. You need to know exactly what you’re going to do before you start each session. Once boredom creeps in to a session your motivation goes and the result is that future sessions get avoided and the fitness plan goes off rails.
You need to find a way of making the sessions enjoyable, interesting and rewarding. You should have a plan either in writing or in your head otherwise you might find that life as a turbotripper will grind to a halt.
Aim to set aside time for two sessions a week doing a high cadence aerobic session one day followed by a resistance based session a couple of days later. At the weekend you can do a 2 to 3 hour outdoor ride on either Saturday or Sunday, or, if the weather is bad, two one hour turbo sessions. A good rule of thumb is to assume that a one hour turbo session is equal to at least a two hour ride outside. In effect an indoor cycling session needn’t last more than an hour for it to be effective and never really needs to be more than 90 minutes.
Long Term Objective
First of all you need an overall objective which might be a combination of things. If you’re just getting into cycling, you might have a simple objective of getting fitter or losing weight. On the other hand, it might be to ride further and quicker. Bear in mind that your objective needs to be realistic and achievable.
This approach is based on a principle called ‘periodization’ where a year is divided into periods of : endurance, pre-competition build, competition, recovery. However, over recent years a different approach as been adopted by coaches where the approach is to maintain a certain level of fitness all year with the addition of specific ‘Training Blocks’ to make the athlete peak for specific events. You’ll probably find that your annual lifestyle will result in a plan that is a combination of the two approaches.
A Three Phase Turbo Training Period
For most cyclists the indoor cycling season will last three to four months during the winter. Ideally you should start during December but…there are often too many other things going on during that month. However it’s a good time to at least think about it and get everything prepared so you can get straight into it at the beginning of January.
Start a program keeping the sessions simple, concentrating on technique and posture. Then introduce changes in rhythm and intensity, finally increasing resistance as you get fitter later in the program.
Phase 1 : During the winter they’re more likely to be based around improving, or at least maintaining, your general fitness and endurance. It’s also a time to work on your technique and posture on the bike. Workouts are done mostly at Endurance and Tempo with high cadences and low resistances.
Phase 2 : As Spring approaches and your endurance improves, you can work on developing your strength and the amount of force you can apply to the pedals. Sessions will still be done mostly at Endurance and Tempo with cadences low and resistances high.
Phase 3 : Once into Spring you can start combining your endurance and strength by working on your ability to ride at a high intensity.
Most cyclists will need to adopt a different attitude to turbotraining during the winter months. As it’s only possible to ride at the weekends and even then if the weather is suitable, midweek turbotraining becomes the main means of keeping fit. And often at the weekend as well. So you might find it easier to get you head round it by regarding it as your main means of fitness training with outdoor cycling being a supplement. You may also find that this approach helps you to focus on your training program.
Training Peaks : Your Indoor Trainer: To Use but Not Abuse