5 Reasons Cyclists Should Start Indoor Cycling
A perspective from Singapore – You’re a road cyclist in a small nation. It’s mostly flat, with a highest natural point of 166 metres. The weather is ok if you don’t get caught in a monsoon but the traffic and associated smog make cycling after 10am quite an unpleasant experience. Form and fitness is built on a steady diet of criteriums and “training rides” with local clubs. You regularly visit neighboring countries to participate in stage races but the travel and time away from work costs money but, in order to improve, participation at these races is essential.
But you shouldn’t let these limitations stop you chasing your drive to become a better cyclist.Maybe one day you will ‘make’ it. There are specialized indoor training centers, no that’s a lie there is one in Singapore and quite soon London – Athlete Lab
Of course many of these elements are not unique to Singapore, I am looking at you the rider who fails time and time again to cycle out from London city centre through rush hour evenings traffic to the green fields of Hertfordshire!Let’s face it there are many pros on why indoor cycling can fit in your midweek training but it is more than that. This is 10 reasons on WHY you should make indoor cycling part o your training plans.
1. Seated Climbing
There is no greater confidence in muscle endurance strength building than good climbing.The strength in climbing doesn’t just come from the quadracips but also the calves, hamstrings and glutes.Hamstrings and glutes are used on the recoil of the footpedal stroke. You also have to engage the lower abdominal to keep your butt on the seat and drive the power down through your heels, which are lower than the toes. There’s no better place to focus on this full rotation and pull up of the footpedal than on indoor cycling bikes.
When you are out on the bike, cyclists can be concentrating on a 90rpm mentality and that isn’t even accounting for drafting.There is no doubt witnessing the stats of both your own riding but also of your fellow riders – as found in the Athlete Lab set up – pushes up your speed and explosive power, but there is also specific techniques that you can focus on in this setup.
Standing Speedwork – you can typically hit around 120-130 rpms when standing up and ‘running’ on the pedals; top cyclists can typically manage around 110 rpm outside.Although you don’t get the same technique – ie moving the handlebars side to side like a wannabe Mark Cavandish – the key is that you can put your entire weight of your body on your quads and push up the watts to improve your muscle endurance strength.
Siting Speedwork – Using moderate resistance you can try to hit 130-140 rpms on these seated sprint workouts, raising your lactate threshold and allowing you to specifically train for attacking the pack on your next race appearance.For triathlon training this training is perfect for getting the legs used to a consistent pace without the help of drafting. To train for the Transcontinental Bike Race this was the main focus of my training, complete with videos from Sufferfest and gritted teeth. As your legs become stronger, the resistance can be built up and this builds a solid endurance base even for climbing.
3.Turning the music up and not worrying about the bus behind you
You can maximize your workout efficiency by utilizing both the rhythm of the beats to maintain a target rpm, or finding ‘hidden’ strength through some inspirational ‘Rocky’ music. Getting lost in this music outdoors is quite frankly dangerous – that why races prohibit the use of listening devices to help avoid collisions. Yet don’t underestimate the value of music to move your training forward and get your best cardio workout results – just do it where a HGV isn’t chasing you down on a narrow country road!
4.Focused training goals
Let’s face it when you are pulling out 12 hour days in the office it is pretty hard to push your body to do a top endurance event. There is no point sleeping 4 hours and busting your gut to get out on the bike out at 4am in the morning only to collapse into bed after work – and let’s face it you are only going to have arguments with your partner. So to get through the demands of modern life you need to maximize your 2 hour morning workout or quick lunchtime session. Additionally by scheduling a shorter shaper session you can also bring those cycling endorphins -high- in to the board meeting on a Monday morning.
The fundamental concept of an indoor cycling program is getting the most out of your limited time – no waiting at traffic lights- through a focused training session, whether that is hill or sprint intervals or a ‘race’ , so that no matter how fit you are, when it finishes you are ready to hit the showers. It is also scheduled not as a time burden but as a mental distraction giving a real-time outdoor riding experience which produces a powerful workout that can prepare you for any endurance event- no matter what the distance!
Indoor cycling can develop long, lean, and defined bodies that have strong core muscles. Basically in a specialized training centre like Athlete Lab there is no escape, no holding on the back of the bike train and a real measurement of how fitting you are becoming. When training outside there are all sorts of variables – weather,traffic, even the lack of proper training measurement devices – all of which stop you graphing your progress and objectively setting your training schedule. You don’t get that in the lab. The bike. The room. All stays the same, the only thing that changes is you, your effort and fitness. The optimal conditions for getting real results from all your time and effort.
Furthermore, in the office takeaway culture there are other great attributes of indoor cycling – the physical cardiovascular benefits with weight reduction, a drop in blood pressure, improvements in diabetes control, and improvements in overall strength. And let’s be honest when you book a class, a little rain isn’t going to get you out of the big hard session of the week.