Lukus Klawitter M.S
Hello Endurance Fam, I hope you all have been safe and healthy. Hopefully, as the weather gets nicer and your restrictions lift you can get outside on the bike more. However, my guess is most of us has found that we have spent a lot of time on the indoor trainer recently. Before you pull out all your hair from the boredom of pedaling in place for hours, I am going to fill you in on some very positive adaptations that you may have experienced from riding the indoor trainer.
The indoor trainer allows you to perform highly specific workouts very tight to chosen percentages of FTP. Whether you use ERG mode or not, riding at a set intensity is a lot easier than outside because there are no other interruptions in environment, terrain, weather, etc. When performing intervals outside it can be difficult depending on where you live to find a road long and consistent enough to perform intervals of the tempo, sweet spot, and threshold variety. The indoor trainer allows you to start and stop an interval of specific lengths, perform specific recovery lengths, work at specific cadences, and work in a very small percentage of desired intensity. Additionally, trying to ride outside at a very tight power output can be dangerous as you are only focusing on your bike computer and not the road.
Heat shock proteins are a highly unique protein in human physiology that plays a strong role in the defense against cellular stress and in our case oxidative stress during exercise. Heat shock proteins also help keep immune function closer to a normal homeostasis during exercise. An increase in heat shock proteins also helps the body adapt to other stressors such as hot environments, which is beneficial for exercise performance. Heat training can show increases in heat shock proteins and by combining training and heat training, a multitude of training adaptations can take place. One thing that that indoor training can not replicate is the cooling effect of riding outside. Even with a proper fan set up core body temperatures elevate sooner and remain higher throughout the duration of exercise opposed to training outside. Therefore, indoor training could help elicit greater immune response, heat adaptations, fight oxidative stress, and increase skeletal muscle adaptations.
Pedaling efficiency is an important variable in cycling performance, which prevents against injury, wasted energy, and power output. A beautiful part about cycling in place is we can isolate our pedal stroke very easily. By breaking down the pedal stroke per leg and into four different quadrants we can isolate weaknesses or areas of wasted energy. For example, taking a short amount of time in your warm-up to perform single leg drills at both low and high resistances can help with increasing pedal efficiency. Lastly, by utilizing the indoor trainer we can be very time efficient. By having the bike, trainer, power platform, and clothing ready to go in a single place we can minimize wasting any time from the day. Some mornings when I need to get a bike session in very early, I will set up all my equipment, clothing, and nutrition the night before. This way all I need to do is roll out of bed, quickly make an espresso, and be on the bike warming up as I am enjoying my lovely coffee.
All this being said, there are many benefits that come with training your bike indoors. You can get a lot of specific work done on the bike in a short time period. So, create other positive training adaptations, save time within your day, fix bad habits, and nail highly specific workouts by sawing logs indoors.