This is a classic article from the 2012-13 season in which we asked riders from Kinetic-sponsored Kelly Benefit Strategies/OptumHealth Pro Cycling Team what they do in the winter to stay fit and how they integrate their trainers in their overall winter programs. Here's what they had to say:
I have a few things I like to do on the trainer. The first is spinning easily and lifting dumbells. It’s hard to lean on the bars for a whole trainer session so this is a great way to break it up. First it’s awesome core work, and also just a good way to add upper body strength while doing light cardio.
The second is climbing intervals. You can simulate steep climbing by elevating your front wheel on a box, usually fairly high—8 to 10 inches! I do my intervals like this. It’s a great way to get your low back accustomed to the strain of leaning forward and riding hard on a climb.
And finally, my favorite: breath-hold intervals. This is tough and only light spinning will allow you to accomplish this at all. Here’s how: just hold your breath! Spin 150-180 watts and start by holding your breath for 10 seconds per minute, rest while you’re breathing again. Work your way up to 30 seconds. If you can do 5 reps at 30 seconds each, you've just trained your brain to operate more efficiently when you are in oxygen debt.
Riding the trainer in the deep winter months is absolutely necessary to maintain fitness for the upcoming season. Here are three rules that I follow to ensure that I don't burn myself out:
Rule #1: Never ride your trainer more than 90 minutes at one time. If you must get in more time, do 2 sessions that day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Rule #2: Entertain yourself. Loud music and or action oriented sports or movies do it for me. I believe training indoors should be condensed and energetic not drawn out and boring.
Rule #3: Drink more than you think. No matter how many fans you have going, It's inevitable that you're gonna get hot. So drink lots of fluids with an electrolyte solution.
A basic interval-training plan helps me get the time in on the trainer. I find it more effective than trying to watch TV. Use a wattage or heart rate goal for a certain time interval and keep repeating it. For instance: repetitions of 3 minutes at 180 bpm, followed by 2 minutes at a recovery heart rate can really makes an hour fly.
Riding your trainers is a perfect way to warm up for strength and stability work. If the weather is bad, I like to do as much inside as I can in the morning, because I know that if I go outside, as soon as I'm home I'm jumping into the shower and then into sweats. So, if it's raining or snowing, and I have strength and core work to do, I'll hop on the trainer first to warm up for an hour or so.
One great way to maximize trainer time is with tempo work. If base miles are a big mug of coffee, tempo is espresso. Both get the job done, but espresso is faster to drink. I try to include some 20 minute tempo efforts to get a big chunk of aerobic stress in; that way, if I go outside later, I don't have to be out as long, or if I stay inside, I will still have accomplished something. An hour or two on the trainer with some tempo is also a great preamble to any winter cross training like running, Nordic skiing or snowshoeing.
Intervals alone don't prevent me from needing a lot of added stimulation while riding indoors. I like movies and music too. I've even seen people play video games on the trainer. We've all heard legends of about some guy your friends knows who spends 7 hours riding the trainer in the basement, in the dark, with earplugs in. Don't be that guy. Multitask!
Speaking of multitasking, you know all that core work you're supposed to be doing? Now would be a good time to catch up. Hop off the trainer every 20-30 minutes and knock out some Swiss-ball or TRX pikes and curls. Integrating strength and core with your ride will keep you from getting bored with either.
I use of my Kurt Kinetic trainer after snowboard/backcountry expeditions into the Sierras. After a long hike up and snowboard down, I find that hopping on my trainer is great for not only getting the burn from snowboarding out of my legs, but also retraining the muscle memory. I think this is extremely important when doing any strength-based training that is not specific to the bicycle.
As the season approaches and I really need to be on the bike, but it's just too cold or snowy out, I will do a warm up on the Kurt trainer for about an hour and then head outside for a couple of hours or however long I can handle and then come back and finish with a cool down on the Kurt trainer.
Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist, World Championship Silver Medalist, Double World Cup Gold - China 2010
As a world cup track rider, maintaining power and strength endurance on the bike through the winter is more than just a matter of base miles and cross training. I need to do work on the bike at loads that can be hard to produce during the cold winter days outside either because the conditions are just too treacherous to be going that hard or because the body simply does not want to warm up enough for truly hard efforts.
In the times I am home between warm weather camps my Kinetic Road Machine an excellent tool for maintaining my endurance capacity. The progressive resistance curve allows me to work all the way to my maximum capacity.
The trainer is quiet enough that I can have a movie on and my wife can sit on the couch and watch it too, often laughing as I collapse in a heap before the credits roll. Having the ability to do this quality of work from the comforts of home means I am not risking illness or a crash out in the winter elements and I can keep my edge for when I race the best in the world on track in January.
One of the things that I do in the winter is a circuit training routine with an exercise ball at home. It changes from week to week but there are a lot of good routines that can be found online for core and legs. I incorporate my Kinetic Trainer into my routine by doing 10 minute spins on it between workouts, with a good 15 to 20 min warm up and cool down on the trainer. Another thing I like to do in the winter, which I think is a great training tool, is to use my Kinetic Trainer to work on my leg strength with 10 to 15 minutes at a good tempo; a few sets of that with a good warm up and cool down makes for a great work out in a short amount of time. If you want to make it a bigger day, you can ride a bit longer on the trainer or head out on the mountain or cross bike, or even go for a hike and you will have a solid day of training.
Set up your training area before you get started on a program. Get a good fan to keep you cool, a TV or radio, your movies or music that you'll want, remote controls, reading material, towels, etc. Also spend the time to get your bike set up well. Make sure your bike is level and comfortable. Make sure that your rear tire is in good shape - indoor trainers are hard on tires so an inexpensive, ultra-durable model works best. Be sure to properly inflate the rear tire.
When using a cyclo-computer, double check your wheel-size calibration. If you are using a computer, it is nice to check the wheel-size calibration. Because of the small tire contact-patch on an indoor trainer, the wheel size calibration should be set a bit smaller than what you would normally use on the road. I typically use a calibration of 2133mm on the road, but have found that something like 2090mm is a more accurate number for my wheel on my trainer. Granted, the difference is small, only 2% or so in my case, but it is nice to know that the numbers that you are seeing on your computer are accurate while you are training.
Keep it short and sweet. Try to keep your indoor sessions under 2 hours and structured into specific workouts. Consider including intervals, drills, technique work and sprints. For your own sanity, try to avoid soldiering through big hours on the trainer.
Two things really help me stay motivated when riding the trainer.
- I like to break up the trainer with a specific workout using my set wattage or HR zones.
- I listen to music. Loud, high-energy music can really keep the motivation up.
With the winters so long and the temperatures so low here in Montréal, I need to spend a lot of time on my Kinetic trainer. When I hop on the bike inside, I do intervals to maintain some intensity in my training. To complement that, I do longer hours on my cross-country skis and I maintain my explosive strength with weight training. Thanks to my trainer riding, when February comes I’m ready to intensify my training outside and hone my form for the season.
During the cold winter months we all do what we can to stay in shape. I pile up a hearty heap of hours on my Kinetic Road Machine trainer, and clip into the skis a few times a year for cross training too.
One of my favorite trainer workouts is the high rpm pyramid and it goes something like this:
- Starting at a cadence of 100 RPM's increase your cadence by 5 every minute. So the first minute at 100, second minute at 105, and so on, all the way up to 130 RPM's.
- Hold 130 for one minute, then back it off 5 RPM's every minute until you get back to 100.
- Repeat as many times as you wish, or until your feature film has come to an end.
Each pyramid takes 13 minutes, so they're great time-killers. They simulate a fast workout on the road and develop great leg speed. You don't need to do these at high watts. I usually shift down a few gears for the really high RPM segments because the idea is to work on leg speed and not power output. I usually don't go over 230-240 watts on this workout.
So spin away and that will get you one step closer to hitting the road flying in the spring.
I have been using kinetic trainers since I started riding… way before I was part of KBS Pro Cycling. They’re a great simulation of outdoor riding. I generally use the trainer for less intense endurance mileage during the winter, riding up to 4 hours at a time.
Watching movies with a fan in my face, particularly when I was attending college full time and year round was my routine for achieving great early season fitness; even from Kinetic trainers alone.
My Kinetic Road Machine trainer is also great for tempo and more intense riding at threshold. The trainer’s progressive resistance is super smooth throughout the power curve and can sometimes make indoor workouts more effective than riding outside because it is much easier to maintain a specific effort.
Use a video on your laptop to help you achieve a time goal of riding on the trainer. If you want to get in 1.5 hrs, then put in a movie that is that long, and use the end of the movie as your goal, so you are not staring at the time tick by.
Incorporate stretching and core work into trainer sessions. When I’m riding the trainer, I like to add some stretching and core work into the workout. If I am doing a quick 30-minute ride, then I stop 10 minutes into it and take a break to stretch. Then I get back on the trainer and finish out the time. A quick stretch makes your body feel much smoother and efficient. If you’re doing an hour, stop every 15 minutes and do 100 reps of abdominal work.
It's winter, the days are shorter and the weather is colder. The indoor trainer is the perfect training tool for this time of year. Most cyclists have problems with sustained efforts whether it's because of traffic or simply the freedom of coasting down hills. The trainer allows you to fill in those weak spots because there is no avoiding them.
Do you find it difficult to spend very much time on the trainer? Try this: Do your warm-up, hop off the trainer and try some single leg squats, lunges and calf raises. None of these require any equipment and are great to do if you want to mix things up. Get back on the trainer so your legs get used to the pedaling motion again. Good Luck!
I live in Colorado, so I am able to ride outdoors for most of the winter. But we do get a few weeks of very cold weather and some pretty good snowstorms. I have a trainer station set up in my garage and leave a bike set up on my Kurt Kinetic trainer. That way it is easy to jump on any chance I get, plus the wife is happy because I don't drag in all the road grime with my dirty bike. I have a TV and DVD player set up out there and watch movies. A good training day is to get up, jump on the trainer for an hour and then go skate skiing. I also find it more stimulating to do timed efforts on the trainer.