The Set Up
Trainers seem to have people who love them, hate them or love to hate them. If you are one of the many that hate them, you may be missing one of the most effective ways to train, and this could be all down to set up and your approach to the trainer. Before you even get on the trainer what are you thinking? If you don’t have anything planned, you likely won’t want to do it. If it’s too difficult to set up, you won’t want to do it. Make it easy for yourself and have a plan.
What’s Needed, And What Isn’t
The Bike - Ideally, you should use your regular bike or a bike that is set up identically for all of your trainer work (the caveat here is a TT bike if you want to do specific TT training on the trainer). A different set up may end up causing pain as your body isn’t used to it, but it also has an effect on your motor patterns (the timing and amplitude of your muscles firing). For best performance you want your motor patterns to be as refined as possible to eliminate unnecessary or inefficient muscle activity that can waste energy.
1. The trainer - I have a cycleops fluid trainer, which is perfectly adequate. It’s relatively cheap, it works well, is very easy to use, is fairly quiet, and I have used it for a few years now and it is still going strong. I will do a blog post about different trainers/rollers at some point, but for now I’m going to focus on ease of use. Reducing any barrier to getting on the trainer is important, and if setup is a breeze you’ll find yourself training hard and motoring up hills in no time.
Tyres – I don’t bother using a specific trainer tyre or wheel any more. It’s one more step that I just don’t feel is worth it. If you’ve got a spare bike that lives on the trainer then go for it though – you will get more life out of it.
2. The fan – If you want to have an enjoyable and effective session this is an absolute must. Having air circulating past your skin allows your core body temperature to stay closer to what you’d experience outside. Without this, you’ll have a large drop in performance and a generally pretty rubbish time. Get a good high speed or industrial style fan (I would recommend at least a 40cm one) and it will make a world of difference. You may notice I have a second fan set up for those really hot or tough days. Positioning the fan off centre will increase the skin surface area the fan is hitting. Make it easy for yourself - have a fan that you can leave there.
3. Entertainment - you need something. The more boring the session, the more elaborate the entertainment you need. Music has been shown to increase motivation and to improve enjoyment of exercise, so solid tunes are a favourite of mine. If the session has repeated hard efforts, good luck focusing on anything other than the pain.
4. Zwift - This seems to be super popular at the moment. It helps to make indoor sessions feel more like riding, and the group rides/races are nice, but unless you are doing targeted training the session it can become a bit of a waste. Rather than Zwift, if you are just doing an easier endurance style session I like to watch a TV show or a movie on the laptop and you can find the time goes quite quickly (just make sure to keep checking those watts!). For harder sessions I like to focus on getting a good session done and wouldn’t pay much attention to Zwift. Whatever you use, make it easy.
5. Other – Drink enough water (ice in the bottle is nice in summer). Wear comfortable knicks, life is too short for saddle sores. On a trainer you are not moving around as much and so it can be hard on your backside so it’s important to have a good quality chamois. If possible, set the trainer up somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Nothing is worse than being 15 minutes into a 20 minute effort and getting interrupted by something. Throw a towel over the handlebars and stem to protect the headset etc from sweat.
Above all… Do it. Get on, start pedalling, get fit.
In future blogs, we’ll go over some ways to plan sessions for trainers, benefits of the trainer and mindset towards the trainer.
If you want to know more about getting the most out of your time on the trainer then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org