As a professional biker, the setting in of winter and the subsequent cold months presents a challenge to your ability to carry on with cycling training and hence the need to resort to indoor training sessions. But the possibility to engage in indoor training offers you an opportunity to make a choice between various training tools. Some of the tools that you will need to choose from are indoor trainers and spin bikes.
But between a spin bike and a trainer, which one is better? Which one of these two tools serves you better? Well, answering such a question reminds me of the primary school days where we were asked to debate over topics such as “father is better than mother” and vice versa.
In the same manner, trying to determine which tool between a spin bike and a trainer is better than the other is like trying to debate who between father and mother is better than the other. By comparing the salient features and overall performance of these two machines, you will be left in a dilemma, wondering which one will work better. That’s why you need guidance to help you make a wise decision.
Based on the example we have looked at above, this article is going to make a comprehensive analysis of all the relative differences and similarities that are inherent in these two indoor training machines and how they can be distinctly leveraged to achieve one’s off season training goals and aspirations. In this article, we are going to look at the following dimensions of the two machines before we can draw a summary of the whole debate.
Under this discussion, we shall examine the following areas:
- The trainer
– Its unique benefits and advantages
– Its cons and limitations
- The spin bike
– Its benefits and advantages
– Its cons and limitations
- The typical advantages of the two training facilities
- The common disadvantages and constraints of the two facilities
- How to overcome the limitations of the two training facilities
- The final take on the suitability of the two machines
The trainer comes in as a handy tool that enables you to continue training using your racing bike, but with the exception that you will be using your bike in an indoor setting while mounting it on the trainer.
Let us now look at some of the benefits and advantages that make a trainer a suitable tool to use when the weather is chilly during the winter and fall months.
The benefits of using a bike trainer during off season months
Cost effectiveness: The first benefit of using these machines is that they are highly affordable and cost-effective compared to a spin bike and other indoor tools such as elliptical trainers. For bikers who may not want to spend a lot of money on a spin bike, they will find a trainer a better option and be able to use the savings they made on other important gears such as cycling shorts, lights and jackets. With a mere few bucks, you can find a good used trainer that can serve you well during the chilly months of the year. Additionally, you can also find a decent bike trainer at an affordable price. Another area where a bike trainer comes in as a cost-effective solution is that it does not require you to be a paid member of a spinning club or gym.
A higher level of comfort: The other reason why a trainer comes in a suitable facility for off season training is that it offers you better comfort that other machines may not give you. The reason here is that you retain the use of your bike and you can enjoy all its features because every part of the bicycle fits you well.
Convenient on space: By nature, a trainer is designed to occupy a smaller space compared to a spin bike or a traditional training bicycle.
Portable and lightweight: Another outstanding benefit and advantage of a bike trainer is that it is light and you can easily carry it alone. For instance, you can easily park your trainer into a saloon car and travel with it without requiring another helping hand or a pickup vehicle to help you carry it the way you would need if you were transporting an exercise bike.
No need for membership: Another notable benefit of a trainer is that you can use it at home and at your own convenience. You don’t need to register as a member at a gym so as to enjoy your training just like you were in a spinning class.
There are no distractions: When you use your trainer during off season periods, you are relieved of all the road distractions that come with outdoor training. For example, you are not going to encounter any traffic police on the way who may demand you to stop for regular police checks. In addition to the above, you avoid commotions that may be outcomes of the usual traffic jams that are common in large cities. This lack of traffic distraction means that you will be able to enjoy uninterrupted and consistent cadence and training.
Greater levels of safety: Another benefit of using a trainer is that you will enjoy greater safety compared to training sessions conducted on the road. The trainer will keep you safe from possible dangers such as falling off the bike, especially during fog and snowy weather that are common during fall and winter.
You enjoy an all-weather training season: Unlike outdoor training, a trainer allows you to enjoy training all throughout the year.
You enjoy a level surface: If you live in an area that is hilly and you lack a flat surface that you can train on, the trainer gives you an opportunity to enjoy a flat level.
A better environment for concentration and focus: When you are training on the road (over which you have no control), you are mostly likely going to encounter distractions that will disturb your focus and concentration. But with a trainer, you are in your own controlled environment, thus you stand higher chances of maintaining your focus and concentration. Better concentration in a controlled environment will allow you to achieve better performance and results as opposed to a destructive road setting.
You can train faster: With a trainer right within the comfort of your house or home, you waste no time trying to get to the training room. If you were using a spin bike, you need time and energy to walk or even drive to the gym.
You are in control of your program: Another reason why you would opt for the bike trainer is that you have total control of your training program. If you are using a spin bike you will need to submit yourself to the program of the spin club. But with a trainer, you can choose to train any time of the day or night and for the length, you may desire.
Lesser wear and tear on your bike: Outdoor training exposes your bike to greater levels of wear and tear as opposed to when you train indoors using a bike trainer. This reduced wear and tear on your bicycle means that you will be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars that you would have used to fix your bike due to avoidable repairs. In the end, you can enjoy the services of your bike for a more years.
You experience greater levels of consistency: Another beautiful thing about using a trainer is that you train under the same conditions every time. You are not exposed to varying external conditions such as training in the fog today and the following day you find yourself training under different weather conditions. This consistency of the training conditions makes it easy for you to measure your performance because you will be measuring them against the same prevailing variables.
Ease of assembly: Another advantage of using a trainer is that it is very easy to assemble and set up. You only need a few minutes to set up the machine and your training sessions are on.
No worry about adjustments: When you are using a bike trainer, you use your own bike, hence you have no need to worry about the adjustments of the bike the same way you would if you were attending a spinning class that is used by different users.
You experience near-road riding experience: When you use a high quality bike trainer, you get a cycling experience that is closer to the one you would have had if you were riding on the road. The trainer offers you the freedom to adjust the resistance level and some of them allow you to switch to hill mode if told you need to enjoy an uphill experience.
You can also enjoy entertainment while you ride: Another good side of these trainers is that you can enjoy watching your TV set while training because you don’t need the same balancing that you would need if you were riding on the road.
After looking at the many benefits and advantages of using a trainer during off season months, we are also going to take a look at some of the few drawbacks of the machine. These limitations may be insignificant compared to the advantages, but they are worth taking note of, and some of the most common ones are explained below as follows:
Boredom: Unlike spin bikes which are used in a group of users, bike trainers are usually used in isolation. This lack of human company and social fiber makes them a bit boring since you have no one to fellowship with, learn and derive inspiration from. Another factor that brings in boredom is the monotony that goes with the environment. You are always in the same place all the time, and you keep on seeing the same walls every day. This kind of monotony is not common if you are training outside since you can choose to train in different locations and enjoy diverse natural beauties and features.
A lacking in the simulations: We had seen that a trainer could offer you near-road experience that you will most likely enjoy if you were riding outside. But you need to know that the experience that the bike trainer gives you is not exact but close to. Things will definitely be different and better if you are training out in the field.
You get more fatigued: In an indoor training session, you need to keep your feet on the pedal throughout the training. On the other hand, if you are training in the real world, you can stop peddling a little bit and relax your muscles for in cases such as descending hills.
Some trainers may be noisy: Again, I need to emphasize the fact that it is some trainers that make noise, and not all of them. If you need to avoid this inconvenience, you need to invest in a qualitative bike trainer so that you can use them for longer without turning noisy.
After looking at the pros and limitations of using a bike trainer, we now take shift our attention and take a look at the pros that you can enjoy if you elect to use a spin bike instead of a bike trainer.
A natural way to relieve stress: A spin bike comes in handy as a very effective tool for alleviating stress. The bike is designed with varying levels of tension and hence you can take advantage of them and focus your training whole you remove your mind from all the burdens that may be stressing you. In addition, most spinning classes are conducted in the company of other people who serve to give moral support and interacting with birds of the same feather is a great way of relieving stress.
You can measure your progress: Another benefit of these bikes is that they come with a monitor that enables you to track your progress at every moment in time. The ability for you to know that you have made progress from one level to another is a real morale booster that goes a long way in helping you to keep on with your workouts.
A good social support: Most spin bikes are used in a gym setting, and they provide a lot of social support for the users.The very fact that you can watch a colleague overcome the same challenges that you are facing is a great way of keeping you high until you achieve your training goals.In addition to the above, other people may be inspired by your level of achievement and start looking up to you.When you discover that there is someone who has determined to remain in the race because of you, you get the psyche to go to the next level and even if you were planning to give up, you end up remaining strong.
A simple way to burn calories: When you want to stay fit during these cold months of the year, spin bikes provide a very excellent way of burning all the unnecessary calories. For instance, if you spin for 45 minutes, you should be able to burn up to 500 calories. However, the level of results that you will get from the spin class depends on the degree of intensity at which you have elected to spin the bike.
You can tone your muscles: Another benefit that a spin bike will give you is that it allows you to enjoy muscle toning. As a professional cyclist, you need strong muscles to compete well in tournaments, and that is why you can decide to use the bike once in a while as you prepare for your races. The bike will help you tone vital muscles that you need for cycling. Some of the muscles that will benefit from a spin bike are those around your thighs, calves, and buttocks.
Increased cardiovascular endurance: Improving your cardiovascular endurance is another essential requirement for you to compete effectively. The increment of your heart endurance will be a big boost to your ability to ride uphill.
Reduced risk of injury: Another advantage of training using a spin bike is that it keeps you safe from all the possible injuries that go with training on the road. You will conduct your training away from all the hazards that are common on the road for example, rogue drivers and other reckless road users.
Adjustable tempo: Using a spin bike gives you the ability to adjust the machine to achieve and give you the level of tension that fits your current level of endurance.
There are no time limitations: The other good side of this bike is that you can use it to train any time of the year without being disrupted by hostile weather. With a spin bike, you no more need to worry about foggy streets or snowy roads.
Ease of use during injuries: Another benefit of using a spin bike is that it is very easy to use if you are nursing a mild injury. This benefit allows you to continue with training without disruptions, and you can increase its intensity as you continue to recover and regain greater strength.
They are cheaper: You can get a spin bike at a lower price compared to buying other training tools such as treadmills.
You can simulate the outside world: With technology having taken effect on all forms of training tools, you can use programs that come with the bikes to replicate similar conditions that you would have enjoyed the entire training outside.
You can keep records: Most of the modern spin bikes we have in the market today come with systems through which you can store all your vital information regarding your progress, distance, and speed.
You can enjoy entertainment: Other benefits of training with a spin bike is that you can also enjoy entertainment such as reading a magazine or watching television as you carry on with your workouts on the bike.
The cons and limitations of a Spin bike
So far, we have looked at the outstanding benefits of training using a spin bike. We now shot the gear and look at the limitations and cons that are inherent in this bike.
It burns fewer calories compared to other workouts: We saw from the benefits of this bike that it helps you to burn a certain amount of calories. But when you compare the amount you can burn on this bike to other workouts, it is lower. The reason behind this comparison is that when you use a spin bike, most of your weight is supported on the saddle. For instance, if you use a treadmill to burn fats for half an hour, you will end burning 236 calories. However, if you decide to use a spin bike to burn fats within the same amount of time, you will end up burning only 148 calories.
They are not so “green”: All spin bikes that have readouts need power to operate. Their need for power makes them unfriendly to the environment compared to real bikes out there on the road.
They only work on your lower body parts: Another limitation that comes with a spin bike is that is works mostly on the lower parts of your body, unlike the real bike which works on every part of our body.
It does not allow you to experience the real weather conditions outside: With a spin bike, you can miss out on the actual training conditions out there on the road such as wind resistance, the glare of the sun, uneven road surfaces, temperatures, and wind resistance.
It needs high levels of discipline and honesty: A spin bike is not meant for jokers who need to be followed and supervised by the gym instructor to do the right thing. The reason here is that it is easier to cheat on a spin bike than it is on the real one. On a spinning bicycle, you can easily lie by lowering resistance, riding slowly and adjusting the level of resistance so as to make it easier for you.
It can be boring: Just like the bike trainer, the indoor scene of training can be too monotonous and lead to boredom. The only thing that a spin class will offer to reduce boredom is the availability of human company.
You are more likely to encounter a sore butt: Another challenge that you will face while using a spin bike is that after some time, your ass will become painful because you retain the same sitting position throughout the training.If you are using a real bike, it is possible to ride while standing and hence reduce the possibility of developing a sore behind.
Common benefits of the two alternatives
This section seeks to examine the standard benefits that come with the two kinds of training devices. The reason behind this similarity and commonality of benefits is that these machines are mainly designed to deliver the same results and facilitate the same process which is: to use indoor training, so as to continue with training during the hostile winter and fall weather.
They save you time out on the road: The first benefit of these two training machines is that they save you a whole amount of time that you would have spent riding and also more amount of time you would have lost waiting for the off season to pass.
Better focus and concentration: The second advantage of these two tools is that they save you all the hassles and distractions that come with on-road training. The reason behind this is that you train in a controlled environment while when you are a public road you have no control over what takes place on the road.
You enjoy greater safety: While training indoors, you are not exposed to as much danger as you would if you were training outside. The reduction of accidents means that you will be spared unnecessary injuries before a race.
Indoor training is more favorable to use during mild injuries: Another benefit of these two machines is that you can still go on with your training even in the face of mild injury. The ability to train with a minor injury means that you don’t need to wait until you have fully recovered before resuming your workouts, and hence you save on the time that you would have wasted.
Greater convenience: When you use a trainer or a spin bike, you enjoy a greater level of convenience. You can decide to train in the night in case you are using a trainer and any time of the year without regard to the challenges of foul weather.
You enjoy many health benefits: Another area that you will stand to benefit from the two training tools is your health. You stand to achieve better cardiovascular endurance and strong muscles when you train well using a spin bike or an indoor trainer. You also benefit from reduced stress due to the social company you get during spinning classes.
Better training morale: when you train using a spin bike, you get exposed it, many people who are pursuing similar goals as yours. You get encouragement from those who are ahead of you as well as those who are looking up to you as a source of inspiration.
This section deals with the addressing of some of the common drawbacks that come with these two indoor training devices. We are going to look into practical ways of reducing the effects of these shortcomings so that you can remain focused on your workouts and reap the best out of them as you wait for the cold months to come to an end and go back to the road.
Boredom: This is a common problem especially if you are using a trainer alone because you don’t have company.
Solution: You can overcome this hiccup by arranging with a friend or a family member to bring in their trainer so that you can have joint training sessions.
Air movement: This is a common problem in both spinning classes and indoor training at home using a bike trainer.
Solution: You need to organize for a good fan, so that you can enjoy the fresh air during your training sessions.
Dehydration: This is another common challenge that comes with indoor training sessions.
Solution: You need to ensure that you make proper arrangement for refreshment so that you don’t lose too much energy and end up being fatigued along the way.
Well, up to this far, we have taken a long journey that has extensively covered the two indoor training tools that you can use to prepare for racing competitions during off seasons. We have looked at the two sides of each of these two devices. First of all, our discussion has covered the benefits of each machine and also the disadvantages and weaknesses that are inherent in both of them. We have also looked at the general strengths and weaknesses of spin bikes and indoor bike trainers.
With the above knowledge and understanding in mind, it is very easy for you to make the right decision when you need a machine to help you in your off season training sessions. Just like in the “father is better than mother” debate, there is no basis upon which we can conclude that either a spin bike or a trainer is better than the other. The better machine between the two is what works best for you at your every level and hour of need.