There was once a time when cyclists had one choice when it came to training sessions, put some air in their tyres, lubricate their chains, check their brakes and head out onto the road. Come rain or shine, wind or hail, light or dark, hot or cold, it was miles on the road that mattered and there was no alternative.
Nowadays cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of training options available. There are indoor spin sessions, community cycling apps and online stationary bike sessions to name a few.
Whilst staying indoors might mean you don’t get the satisfaction and contentment experienced after completing a long ride outdoors in the fresh air, there are a lot of benefits to indoor training.
One great aspect of indoor training is that you are not subject to the forces of the outdoors over which you have little or no control. Such forces can range from the unpredictability of motorists, the pollution, the weather, or even the vicissitudes of the seasons. Depending on where you live none or only some of these factors may be an issue, but the reality for most cyclists is that at one point all of the aforementioned will determine how enjoyable and effective your training and riding actually is.
Another fantastic aspect of training indoors is convenience. No matter the time of day if your indoor set-up is ready to go you can throw on your jersey and bib-shorts and put in a 30-minute hard session. You can squeeze this in in the morning before your shower, midway through the day if you are working from home or straight after you’ve put your little, or not so little ones down for sleep. There really are no limitations and with indoor cycling Apps such as Zwift you have no reason to sacrifice that buzz you get from riding with your group.
Training indoors also means that any training efforts can be way more consistent and measured as there are no traffic lights, roundabouts (for you UK cyclists), bends, road junctions or other obstacles to working through a specific session. You also never need to worry about getting the ‘knock’ due to inadequate or poor nutrition. Being with no food and 40 miles from the end of your ride when you have hit the wall can be quite a gruelling experience, and as any cyclist who has experienced this will tell you, having a fully stocked larder only 6-feet away can certainly lessen the blow.
All in all, indoor training sessions offer high levels of consistency, convenience and safety, and can also go a long way to ensuring specificity in your efforts. On balance then training indoors has a great deal going for it. Assuming you have the space to hand and have invested in a good set-up then it can be of real utility.
When indoor sessions are couple with an InfoCrank there is no reason at all why you cannot see significant progress in your fitness. This of course will require 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.