Don’t ditch your turbo

Think twice be­fore you pack away your trainer. Train­ing on your bike in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment en­ables you to con­cen­trate on the cy­cling fun­da­men­tals, says Alain Torri

Triathlon Plus - - Training Zone -

In the last few years, static cy­cling has changed a lot, mostly be­cause of the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy of bike com­put­ers, the af­ford­abil­ity of heart rate mon­i­tors, ca­dence and power me­ters and the suc­cess­ful in­te­gra­tion with so­cial me­dia and de­vel­op­ment of new, smart plat­forms such as Zwift.

At the same time, this de­vel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy runs the risk of mov­ing the fo­cus away from the main ob­ject of in­door static cy­cling, which is train­ing in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment – the near equiv­a­lent of run­ning on a track or swim­ming in a pool.

Since it presents a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment, we can fo­cus on tech­nique and for­get about the po­ten­tial dan­gers and dis­trac­tions that we find on the roads like traf­fic, junc­tions, pot­holes, hills and slip­pery road sur­faces.

Train­ing on a turbo is the best op­por­tu­nity to im­prove sev­eral as­pects of cy­cling which we can ap­ply when we move onto the road.


By con­cen­trat­ing on the leg ac­tion, it is much eas­ier to con­cen­trate on all the dif­fer­ent mus­cle groups in­volved in spinning the ped­als smoothly, and to en­sure con­sis­tent strength through­out the rev­o­lu­tion. By break­ing a com­plete rev­o­lu­tion of the ped­als into quar­ters and con­cen­trat­ing on one sec­tion at a time, you can iden­tify which mus­cles are en­gaged in the dif­fer­ent pedal po­si­tions. Then, it’s a mat­ter of putting all the sec­tions back to­gether once all the quar­ters have been ex­plored sep­a­rately. Try think­ing about your pedal stroke as a clock face, with 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock points of ref­er­ence.


Dur­ing hard ef­forts or re­cov­ery in­ter­vals, it’s al­ways good to run a sys­tem check of your body to make sure your po­si­tion on the bike is the most ef­fi­cient and that fa­tigue does not af­fect pos­ture. Start­ing from your feet and work­ing your way up the body to your con­tact points, check you are main­tain­ing good form on the bike and a steady up­per body. Get a friend to watch you side on and di­rectly be­hind as you ride and point out any rock­ing mo­tion. Bet­ter yet, get them to film you and watch it back.


Ped­alling one-legged drills in your ses­sion and fo­cus­ing on main­tain­ing a smooth pedal stroke with­out any lat­eral move­ment of the knee can help to train the legs to con­tract and ex­pand in one plane dur­ing the ro­ta­tion. In turn, it helps you pre­vent in­juries and en­sure that all the power gen­er­ated by the mus­cles is trans­ferred to the ped­als with­out waste. Try ped­alling at your usual ca­dence for a minute on each side, fo­cus­ing on keep­ing the pedal stroke smooth through your en­tire body and through 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock.


Prac­tis­ing rid­ing at dif­fer­ent ca­dences helps to de­velop over­all cy­cling abil­ity, but a gen­eral fo­cus on hold­ing 90-95rpm with 100-105rpm ac­cel­er­a­tions makes up a key part of Ox­ford Tri’s static bike train­ing. Work­ing in this range has a great pos­i­tive im­pact on the over­all ped­alling ef­fi­ciency when you even­tu­ally trans­fer it onto the road.


A con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment is the per­fect place to check train­ing progress and im­prove­ment of fit­ness since the same test can be car­ried out at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals and the re­sult can­not be spoiled by ex­ter­nal fac­tors such as wind or forced de­vi­a­tions from your tar­get ef­fort. Al­though a test can be run based on per­ceived ef­fort, it is ad­vis­able in this case to use some of the tech­nol­ogy avail­able to mon­i­tor and record the ef­fort to set up bench­marks for fol­low­ing tests. If you have ac­cess to one, try out a Func­tional Thresh­old Power test on a Wat­tbike and use a heart rate mon­i­tor for added data. If you only have ac­cess to a power me­ter or heart rate mon­i­tor, that will work too.

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