How to make the most of winter on the trainer

Verve Cycling’s CEO Bryan Taylor shares some top tips on how to structure your sessions to make the most out of your time on the trainer during the colder months of the year.

With European summer coming to an end, Verve Cycling’s CEO Bryan Taylor shares some top tips on how to structure your sessions to make the most of your time on the trainer during the colder months of the year.

Well, here we are again! Blink and you’ve missed it – the European summer is coming to an end. Hopefully, you got out and about, did the miles and are ready for the shorter days and the cooler temperatures to come.

The idea today is to keep things short and sweet, just like we hope your days will be in the low seasons.

Assuming that you have been riding regularly during the summer, a couple of things will work well for you this coming winter. 

Firstly, you do not need to do long hours on the trainer, no matter how much you love Zwift or your system of preference. Secondly, you do need to do some hard work and then you can get back to other important things and people in your life.

The science suggests, even if you are getting older, you can reduce your cycling hours to around five to seven per week from double that and still not lose fitness.  In fact, if you do the right things, you will be in good shape for the spring when you can go out and get into the miles again.

indoor Cycling Training Infocrank Cycling Power Meter

What do you have to do?

Let us just say that you decide to target six hours per week over the colder months. That is really one hour per day with a day off – a good way to be. What is really important is that you don’t waste that time.  

You can do longer slow rides – no problem, but for that six hours or so, you should really aim to do warm ups and downs and then some mixed intensity for the rest with recovery periods.

Now that is really simple in theory, but in practice? Well, it is not too hard in practice either, but you should finish each session knowing that you put in serious effort.

What sort of things should you do? Make sure you mix and match and change up and down to suit the mood at the time, because the goal is to get through the season, not just to put in a week or two here and there and then have to try and get it all back next Easter.

You will want to be doing various lengths of exercise, so here are some models. As you get faster – yes you will – then you can do extra sets.  When you have done a few weeks of them, add in some crits on Zwift at least once per week and really hit it.

Sprints and short work. For more information, click here to view the webinars we did last year.

10 x 8 second all out efforts – total recovery in between. Extend this to 30 over the season.
7 x 30 second all out efforts – total recovery in between. Add on extra sets when able.
10 x 1 minute efforts – gauge your effort to keep the power equal from beginning to end, with one minute breaks in between. Add in extra efforts as able. Aim for 15.

Medium Workouts. These are at vo2 max level – it should feel like all out for the duration, but always above the threshold. Vary your cadence for different weeks – sometimes normal and other times pushing a heavy gear.

3 x 3 minutes – extend in sets when able, that is, to increase to two sets, then to three.
2 x 5 minutes – extend sets when able.

Threshold or under and overs.

2 x 10 minutes – add in extra sets.
1 x 20 minutes – do this once per week in preparation for the crits then exchange it for a Zwift race.

There is pretty much enough there for any week. Don’t overdo it, just do it regularly and properly. If intervals are not your thing, subscribe to something like Sufferfest and try their way of doing the same sort of thing.

To top it all off, whenever the weather is dry or warm – get out and breathe the fresh air.

When indoor sessions are coupled with an InfoCrank power meter there is no reason at all why you cannot see significant progress in your fitness. This of course requires commitment and a structured training programme, but more and more cyclists are turning to indoor training to develop their fitness over the winter months or focus their training in ways that riding outdoors doesn’t always easily allow.

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