Drink to Win

Trainer rides can build some great fitness, especially because it's a very efficient use of time on days that are less-than-desirable to be outside. As you spend more time indoors, it’s critical to focus on your hydration status as it can have a major impact on the quality of these short, intense workouts. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to hop on the trainer.


About two hours before you begin your training session, aim to consume 16 ounces of fluid. This gives your body a chance to absorb the water and gives you time to pee before hopping on the trainer. Even better than water at this point would be an electrolyte drink, as it will help trigger the thirst mechanism and help with fluid absorption. You can check your hydration status during that pre-workout pee. If it’s clear to pale yellow, you’re ready to go. If it’s darker, then you need to drink a little more and focus on increasing your fluid intake before your next workout. While you’re unlikely to become dehydrated during a 60-90 minute indoor session, if you start the session a little low on fluids you could reach a dehydrated state sooner than you think.

Keep the Mercury from Rising

When you start exercising, your muscles produce heat and this drives your core temperature up. If your core temperature rises above 102 degrees, then you’re likely to experience a decrease in power and performance. Your body attempts to keep your core temperature under control through vasodilation and evaporative cooling: sweating. This is effective, but requires continual replacement of body water, so you have to keep drinking throughout your workout. Evaporative cooling also requires airflow over your skin, so make sure you have at least one fan blowing on you as well.

Reduce Cramping

The sodium mentioned above will help with fluid absorption and this helps maintain proper electrolyte balance, which may also help keep cramps at bay. It’s important to have the right combination of sugars, sodium and water in your bottles during the workout in order to maximize fluid absorption. Ideally aiming for a 3%-3.5% solution with Sucrose, Glucose and Sodium Citrate. This is a much lower amount of sugar than is found in most sports drinks (which are more commonly 6-8% solutions), but at this concentration the sugar is there more to drive fluid absorption than to provide additional carbohydrate for energy. For workouts lasting only 60-75 minutes, you have enough stored carbohydrate energy to fuel your workout and you don’t need to focus on consuming calories for additional energy.

Increase your Power

Riding indoors can be a great way to maximize your training time and the effectiveness of that time. However, if you’re not staying on top of your hydration status, particularly before your workout, you can end up having a sub-par training session. Start the workout well hydrated and then maintain good practices during the workout. If you’re feeling very thirsty, you may already be approaching a 2% body fluid loss, which can result in as much as an 11% decrease in power. For example, if a 150-lb cyclist normally rides at 200 watts at FTP (FTP) and he loses 3 pounds, he will now be riding at 178 Watts at FTP. That’s a pretty big decrease in power, especially since it’s easily prevented. Aim to consume 16-24 ounces per hour while on the trainer and you should be able to avoid this loss in power and maintain an effective workload.