What is an Indoor Bicycle Trainer and How to Can you use it?

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indoor bike trainer1What is an indoor bicycle trainer?

A bike trainer or simply put a “trainer” is a piece of equipment or a device that enables you to train and ride your bike in a stationary position. Just like a treadmill, the trainer enables you to ride in one place while enjoying all the benefits of riding outdoors. However, the only difference between the two equipments is that a treadmill is entirely designed to gym fitness while the trainer is attached to your bike in order for it to function.

Why do people use trainers?

Well, trainers are not another fancy device that decorates your bike. There are several good reasons why an indoor bike trainer is a necessary training tool for bikers.

  • First of all, the need for trainers arises from the desire for cyclists to cool down or warm up before or following a bike race and tournament.
  • The second reason why trainers are use is hostile weather conditions that may not favor outdoor training for cyclists. This is very ideal for riders and also safe for them, especially during stormy and icy weather conditions that may easily expose the biker to unnecessary injuries.
  • The third reason that necessitates the use of bike trainers is the lack of training time on the side of the bikers.
  • The fourth reason behind the use of indoor bike trainers is the desire to incorporate other entertainment activities into their training. Such entertainment may range from reading, checking the mail or even watching television.
  • The fifth reason behind the use of indoor bike trainers is the desire of bikers to improve on their stamina and riding speed.

What are the different types of indoor bike trainers available?

There are different types of indoor bike trainers in the market that are suitable for different biking needs and preferences. The main four types of trainers are based on the kind of resistance that they produce.

  • Fluid : These types of trainers are a combination of magnetic flywheel and fluid chambers for the purposes of producing resistance. Their main strength lies in that fact that they are a silent companion in the training room and their resistance level can be gradually increased with time. However, their downside is that they tend to overheat and at times this may lead to leaking.
  • Magnetic : These types of indoor trainers are made of as magnetic flywheel that creates a resistance for the rear wheel of the bike. The most beautiful side of these trainers is that they are silent .Their downside is that they have a resistance level limit and they are vulnerable to breakdown.
  • Wind : These types of trainers use a fan that is dependent on the cyclists’ legs for powering. The resistance that they produce is dependent on how fast or slow the cyclists ride the pedals. Their strength lies in the fact that they can also be used in outdoor settings. Their downside is that they are noisy and they have a limited resistance level.
  • Centrifugal: These types of indoor bike trainers have pressure plates that produce resistance to the rear tire. Their main advantage is that they are almost silent and their resistance level can be adjusted. Their main weakness is that they easily succumb to breaking once they are exposed to intense usage.

First things first: Getting your training space readyindoor bike trainer2

This is the first stage that has to a set ready before you can effectively use your trainer. You have to create the right environment that will facilitate the success of your training sessions. Below is a list of some of the preparatory things that you need to set in order.

You need to take hold of a few basic tools that you need in order to make your training session more effective, welcoming, and enjoyable. The following is a list of those things:

  • The cycling trainer: Make sure that you move in your trainer into the right place.
  • Your bike: This is the most important gear you need because that is what you will need and use for the training session.
  • Front wheel block : It is better if you get one that will allow for different wheel heights.
  • Towels: These are essential because biking is a vigorous activity that involves sweating. You require a smaller towel for wiping your face and a bigger one for catching bigger drips of sweat that will be dropping off your body.
  • Entertainment gear: This is going to set a conducive environment for your training session and room. Don’t forget to carry an iPod, TV, DVD Player and your Smartphone as well.
  • Water:
  • Fan/s: You also need to set the environment ready for the workouts. You need to keep the atmosphere aerated and fresh as you practice and hence a fan or two will do just fine to keep you fresh.

Other room preparations will include the following:

Crack the window: This will go a long way in complementing the fans in keeping the training room full of fresh air.

Wireless headphones: These will do good if you are training in the morning, in a house with thon walls or early in the morning. These tools will help you keep your family members free from the noise of the TV set in the training room.

Close the heater vent: This is going to ensure that the heater vent does not erode the cooling gains gotten from the work of the cooling fans and the open windows.

Consider the size issue: This is another key factor to tale into keen consideration. The reason here is that some indoor trainers occupy more space than others and hence you need to factor in this issue before you set up the training room. Bear in mind that some indoor trainers are compact while other can be folded to save more storage space.

Build a training structure: This is another key issue to put into consideration before you even physically move into the training room. You need to have a defined structure and plan for your training. You have to set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the end of the training session. Additionally, you need to determine what you will achieve when you hit a milestone like 50% of your training program. You need to determine how long you would like to train before breaking and how long the training breaks will be.

Time to go training

After you have done all the above preparations, it is now time for you to get to the real thing, and that is the indoor training session.

indoor bike trainer3Phase 1: Your initial Lactate Threshold (your first 30-45 days)

You need to increase your Lactate Threshold (LT) to a 92-95% of your efforts within 20 minutes. Make sure that you do the warm up as per the described order above and then do 2 x 20 at 92-95% of your LT at a cadence that is more than 90.This can be followed by a 10-minute recovery in between the efforts marked by a break of 5 minutes before finishing the 80 minute training session.

Weekend sessions: Do one to two rides at between 60 and 80 each session. Do one day of effort and one day of recovery.

Weekdays: You need to do at least two rides per week with a session of between 60 and 80 minutes each. You will require one recovery day between the two days of training.

Phase 2 A: Mid Intensity Effort Work ( 45- 75 days)

At this stage, you will have to decrease your interval duration while increasing your effort intensity. You will be required to dp a structured warm up and also do 3- 4 x 10 at 100-107% of your LT at a cadence above 90 coupled with a 5-minute recovery in between.

Weekdays: During the initial two weeks, do a one session on a weekly basis with other rides at LT. Thereafter, you can increase the sessions to 2 per week.

Weekends: You will need to do one session per weekend.

Phase 2 B: Mid Intensity effort Work (65-90 days)

At this stage of training, the effort is intensified while the interval time is decreased. After you are through with your warm-ups, you are supposed to do 4-5 x 5 at an LT level of between 110%-118%, all at a cadence that exceeds 90.At this stage of your training, recovery time is a very important issue and it should  be done at a minimum of 100% of your effort time.

Weekdays: You will need two sessions per week while the other days stand in as recovery moments.

Weekends: During weekends, you need to take one session of training while other day remaining as recovery moment for 1 hour or 2 x 20 minutes at LT.

indoor bike trainer5Phase 3: High Intensity levels mixed with LT Maintenance (the last 3-4 weeks of the program)

This is the last lap of the program and it should be approached with a lot of caution, discipline and determination. If this stage is not handled properly then all the preceding efforts in the initial days will not be able to yield much fruit. A lot of effort needs to be taken here so that you cross the finishing line stronger. This final stage needs to be a hybrid of efforts ranging from 1, 2, and 5 minutes respectively. All these efforts will go along way in ensuring that you arrive at the peak of the program safely and joyfully.

At this stage, you can go for a series of intensified efforts starting from 1-2 x 5 at 110-118 %, followed by 3-4 x 2 at 120% and lastly you will take it to 5-10 x 1 120- 120 %.At this stage, the recovery times should be at a minimum 100% of your effort time.

Weekdays: At this final stage, you need to take two training sessions per week while the remaining days will be dedicated to tempo or recovery.

Weekends: Here you need to take one session per weekend with remaining day being reserved for tempo or recovery for 1 Hour. Alternatively, you can take 2 x 20 minutes at LT.

Building capacity for the hardest parts of the race

Every professional biker knows too well that cycling is just as challenging as it is interesting and adventurous. The most challenging parts of this adventure is the successful and safe tackling of climbing and stiff terrains which exert extra mental and physical pressure on the biker. During your indoor training, you will also need to use your trainer to prepare your for such terrains in the forth coming road race. You will need to follow the simple but effective steps in order to get ready for the climbing challenges of the race:

  • First of all, you will need to simulate a hill situation by raising the front wheel of your bike.
  • After the simulation, you will be required to ride your bike for 10 minutes at a pace that you can comfortably manage for one hour (90-100% of your LT power).Once in every two minutes, you will need to stand and attack for 12 and 15 pedal strokes.
  • On top of the riding, you need to do some easy spin for some 10 minutes.
  • You will need to repeat the exercises in order to arrive at the desired level of preparation and mastery.

Striking the balance

From the start we have seen that the indoor bicycle trainer is a great tool in facilitating training. It is a great tool in finalizing your preparations for the final race on the road. However, there is need for the machine to be used in balance. It should not be used as the sole and exclusives tool for preparation for a race that is awaiting you. Remember that you will still need the benefits and inclusion of a structured training on the road where the actual race will take place.

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