Because of Covid-19 which limits what we can do outside our homes, indoor cycling is now getting the attention it deserves. Don’t get me wrong, as bikers, we all love the outdoors but there will always be that time when riding outside is not ideal (i.e. when it is raining, snowing, etc.).
It’s not just about the weather. Indoor cycling also has some added benefits:
- Biking indoors is more convenient.
- Indoor biking is time-efficient and not dependent on the weather.
- You will not end up with a dirty bike that’s a nightmare to clean.
- You can do targeted bike workouts to improve your pedaling efficiency, stamina, overall fitness, and speed.
Getting Started with Indoor Cycling
If you are new to indoor cycling, you might find yourself daunted by the number of accessories and equipment you need. But don’t worry, there’s a setup for every budget — as long as you are willing to make some compromises. More expensive setups are often quieter and come with nifty features like adjustable resistance, cadence sensors, power meters, and more. Whatever your setup is, this indoor cycling guide should work for you.
1. Make Sure You Have Space
Some go to extreme lengths like turning their garage into an indoor cycling space. You don’t have to. Any space will do as long as you have enough area to move around. Keep in mind that indoor biking equipment is heavy and that you’ll most likely sweat a lot. To make cleaning easier, set up your equipment on a solid floor instead of carpet.
2. Mind the Noise
Cheap indoor trainers can be noisy. So, if you are sharing the house make sure to set up your trainer away from quiet areas. Better, if you have spare room that you can soundproof.
3. Choose the Right Trainer
There are two types of bike trainers on the market:
These are probably the most common ones. Turbo trainers vary in price and features — from cheap simple setups to pricey and feature-rich ones. You will need your bike when working with a turbo trainer.
On some models, the bike sits on the turbo trainer using a skewer that’s installed at the rear axle. The rear wheel then rests against a cylinder that spins as you pedal. This setup can easily burn through your tires so investing in indoor trainer tires is a must.
High-end turbo trainers are often direct drive trainers which come with a cassette attached to an internal housing. You don’t have to use your rear wheels in this trainer because all you have to do is to hook the chain directly to the cassette. Although more expensive, the advantage of this type of turbo trainer is that you don’t have to use your rear wheel and it eliminates the need for trainer tires. When you’re ready to ride outside, just pop your rear wheel back into place.
Bike rollers come with parabolic spinning cylinders that rotate to simulate the ground moving under your bike. Compared to turbo trainers, riding on bike roller feels more natural — making it a great equipment for improving your balance, core strength, and pedaling smoothness. The downside is that finding your balance at the beginning can be quite a challenge.
4. Invest in the Right Indoor Cycling Accessories
Indoor cycling is not as easy as most people think. Below are some of the accessories that you can get as part of your setup.
- A good quality water bottle – trust me, indoor cycling is an intense workout. Just a few minutes on the trainer and you’ll be sweating like crazy. So, make sure you have a bottle of water within reach to cool yourself down and keep yourself hydrated.
- Buy a bike trainer mat – by creating a stable surface to workout on, bike trainer mats make sure that your bike trainer will not slip. It also helps protect your floor from scratches. Bike mats also stop your flooring from getting soaked by the buckets of sweat you produce. Lastly, bike trainer mats help dampen the noise and vibrations.
- Use an app – there are a lot of virtual cycling apps that you can use to improve your indoor cycling experience. Take advantage of VR. A TV or laptop in front of you with a nice set of speakers or earphones will do the trick! Apps like Zwift come with an online training program and even a multiplayer game where you can ride around a virtual world with your friends. They also have a library of workouts and training plans that you can take make use of.
5. Find a Good Indoor Cycling Workout
It’s always nice if you have a goal in mind or something to work on while training. A workout program can help you achieve this. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll see that there are a lot of options — from basic beginner-friendly workouts to high-intensity ones.
6. Create a Training Schedule
Now that you have a bike trainer with the right set of accessories set up in a room with enough space, the last thing you have to do is to create a training schedule. The time you workout on your indoor bike will be largely determined by your lifestyle and personal preference. A training schedule can help you stick to a habit so you can reap the full benefits of indoor cycling.
If you are a beginner, consider starting at a more sustainable level like three 30-minute workout sessions a week. You can increase the frequency and intensity as you gain experience.