Indoor Training Tips

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

Most people turn to indoor training once the weather turns sour.  I’m no different.  Why would I want to ride indoors when the sun is shining?  Riding indoors defeats some of my favorite reasons for riding a bike.

However, indoor training isn’t something that should only be looked at as an alternative to riding in the rain.  Many of the best PRO cyclists in the world use indoor training as part of their build-up to form.  It’s all about ‘bang for your buck‘ and training specificity.   There’s an old adage that says “an 60 mins on the trainer is worth 90 mins on the road”.  In an hour you can get a solid workout that hits your precise training zones without needing to stop for red lights, dealing with gradient or wind changes, or leeches sitting on your wheel.

There are a couple popular options to kick off your indoor training routine:

  • Sign up for cycling specific ergo sessions at dedicated a venue.  The cost can be anywhere from $10-$30 per session.  The motivational environment provided by these places can be phenomenal.  These types of sessions pass by quickly, they make you leave the comfort of your own livingroom, put you in the right head-space, and they have someone cracking the whip at you.  A couple places I’d recommend in Melbourne is Ridewiser in St Kilda and Velocino in Black Rock.   There are many more I haven’t tried so feel free to recommend any good ones I’ve missed.

Indoor Interval Sessions

If you’re just hopping on the trainer and throwing in a DVD in without having a good plan of what you’re going to do, you won’t get the most out of your session.  Below I’ve outlined a few good interval workouts that target different training zones.  You’ll come out of these sessions absolutely shattered after about an hour.  I recommend that you use a HR monitor (or powermeter if you have it) so you can gauge your efforts properly.  Most people find that the perceived effort is much higher when riding indoors.

Note: For these sessions be effective it’s helpful to know your training zones. If you don’t know what these are, don’t be intimidated.  It’s sufficient to simply “go hard”  for the types of intervals outlined below.  Just remember, start out at a pace that you know you can maintain for the entire interval.  This will seem easy at the beginning, your heartrate will rise, and then will be difficult to maintain at the end. It always takes some experimentation to learn your body and fitness level when you’re just starting out. The structure of these sessions is the point.

Lactate tolerance training intervals

  • 15 minute warm up with one 2 minute effort fairly HARD (25% over your lactate threshold) and then back down again.
  • 4 minutes effort fairly HARD (just above LT wattage) to make sure you are warmed up
  • rest 2 minutes, then 3 minutes HARD (just over your MAP) (see here on how to test MAP – maximum aerobic power)
  • rest 2 minutes and 2 minutes HARD (just over your MAP)
  • 2 minute rest 1 minute VERY HARD (over your MAP as hard as you can go)
  • 2 minutes rest 2 minutes HARD (just over your MAP)
  • 2 minute rest 3 minutes  HARD (just over your MAP)
  • then recover for 2 minutes
  • 4 minutes at just below lactic threshold
  • cool-down for 10 minutes

These are great to build up your lactate tolerance.  This session will look something like this pyramid if you use a powermeter:

VO2Max Intervals

These intervals will hit your VO2Max zone and get you more comfortable riding in this neighborhood of pain.  After a while you’ll start to notice that you’re recovering better and staying in these zones for longer.

Warm Up:

  • 10 minutes warm-up just spinning the legs getting the blood flowing
  • One 5 minute interval at 110% of LT
  • 5 minutes of easy spinning to recover before we get to the good stuff…

VO2 Max:

  • 6 x 3minutes trying to average the highest power you can in the 3 minutes.  REST for 3 minutes between each.
  • Rest and spin easily for 10 minutes after the 6x3min intervals are complete.
  • Now, 4 x 2 minutes with 4 minutes rest between each. These are HARD 2 minute efforts.
  • Cool-down for 10 minutes.  You won’t be able to walk after this session.  I’ve rarely finished on of these in it’s entirety.

Race Tune-Up

These are intervals I like to do the day before a race.  They’re not hard enough to break you down and cause muscle damage.  They simply recruit the muscles that will be used tomorrow and get them firing.  Personally, if I don’t do a workout like this the day before a race my legs will feel heavy and I’ll completely blow my chances of getting a good result.

Warm up:

Easy spinning for 10 minutes


  • 3 x 1 minute hard, with 5 minutes of easy riding between each.
  • 3 x 30 seconds hard sprints, with 5 minutes between.
  • Cool down and spin easily for 15mins.

NOTE: If you’ve gotten this far you’re probably somewhat interested in indoor training.   I have 10 free gift vouchers to give away courtesy of The Sufferfest motivational training videos. Sorry, all have been given out. These video sessions are fantastic.  Race footage, helmet cam footage, and structured intervals.  It’s all very motivating, gives you structure to your workout, and makes the time fly by.

To download one of the Sufferfest’s DVD’s for free, just leave a comment with your indoor training tip and email me at [cyclingtips at gmail dot com] and I’ll send you a free code. I only have 10, so first come first serve.

On a side note, I did an indoor training session yesterday while watching none other than Chasing Legends.  I received a copy to review from the producers of the film (like I’m some sort of film critic now?).  All I can tell you that it was AWESOME.   DVD’s go to print commercially at the end of July and I’m working to get a bunch as giveaways.  You’re gonna love it!

Editors' Picks