(Photo Credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
By: Lindsay Goldman, professional cyclist for Hagens Berman | Supermint.
Nobody prefers to ride a bike trainer, right? When the suggestion of riding indoors comes up, most people recoil in horror and declare they can’t stomach more than a few minutes of trainer time. And I used to feel that way too, until I made the trainer a regular part of my routine and found a lot of reasons for why it’s actually worthwhile to suffer through an indoor ride.
“I crashed and broke my collarbone,” my teammate said. “What terrible news!” I replied. “Time to get on the trainer!”
This is always my go-to response, which probably makes the injured person unhappier than they were before. But I mean well and have the best intentions. From experience, every athlete’s first concern upon injury is wondering how quickly they can resume training. Nobody wants to work hard for their fitness only to lose it sitting on the couch healing.
The trainer is invaluable in bridging the time between injury and when it’s safe to get back outside. You can recover while recovering your fitness. Just try to keep your injuries from the neck down and the waist up.
2. Tight on Time.
When I used to work in an office, I would train in the morning before attempting to be at work by 10am. “Attempting” is the right word, because if I had a 2-hour ride planned, it would always take longer due to traffic, lights, stops, mechanicals, and other interruptions.
An indoor bike trainer eliminates that issue – you never have to worry about rides accidentally running longer than expected. It also means that if you only have an hour to ride, you can make it the most effective, efficient hour: warm up, work out, cool down. You’re not wasting time coasting or getting to a good road.
3. The Workout is Very Specific.
My coach loves the science of training and often gives me very specific, targeted interval workouts that often do not match the terrain available outside. It’s also hard to nail a target power level when I’m focused on the road and cars.
I’d rather ride indoors, do the workout exactly as intended, and get the most benefit out of it. It’s not like I’m enjoying scenery while smashing intervals anyway, unless the scenery is my sweat-covered stem. If you want to be highly specific in your training, indoors is the best platform.
4. Unfamiliar Roads.
While Strava might send you out on a great route, it might also accidentally lead you to riding down the edge of a rural highway with 18-wheelers flying past. Or maybe you’re in the middle of downtown Chicago and don’t see a single stretch of uninterrupted road for miles.
While exploring can be fun at times, there are also times when you just need to break a sweat and get in a ride. The bike trainer is your answer.
5. Recovery Rides.
I do all of my recovery rides on the trainer because the whole point is to spin the legs without exertion. While it’s possible to go easy outside, there are also a lot of accelerations from stops, time spent coasting, and small hills that force higher watts.
There is no better controlled recovery spin than one done indoors. If it’s a coffee ride you’re after, bring your French press to the trainer and caffeinate while you pedal.
Long teleconference? Online session scheduled for work? A clogged inbox? If you can sit upright on the bike while pedaling (which provides the added benefit of strengthening your core), you can do all of this and more from your phone. I’ve even rigged up my laptop to use on the bike.
Nothing brings me greater joy than finishing a ride and a bunch of work tasks simultaneously. Getting paid to pedal? Yes, please.
7. Race Warm Ups/Cool Downs.
There is no better way to get a controlled warm-up before an event than jumping on the bike trainer. You can manage your efforts exactly as needed, and you’re not riding away from the event venue and risking a flat or delay holding you up before the race.
When the race is done, you can jump-start your recovery properly by spinning out your legs on the trainer. It seems nuts to finish a hard race and get on the trainer to ride more, but I’m a stickler for having a proper cool down and have never regretted taking steps to make my legs feel better for the next ride.
I’m fairly certain it’s a felony to leave a young child home unattended, but it’s a crime to miss out on a ride.
The trainer allows you to ride while staying home to make sure your kid doesn’t burn the house down or sell their sibling on the internet. Activity mats and activity centers were invented specifically to keep babies entertained while their parents did more entertaining things. Embrace these tools and get your workout done.
9. Experience New Routes.
Thanks to Rouvy, Zwift, and other training software available now, you can test out a race course or ride a famous climb, all from your basic or smart trainer at home.
As a racer, I want to pre-ride courses to see how they feel and learn how to approach them on race day. The ability to load and ride specific courses without having to travel there and test them out in person is a great feature.
And for those who Zwift, you can have all the thrills of a group ride without getting sprayed with sweat from that dude who just chopped you in that corner.
I’ve met a lot of cyclists who enjoy the workout they get from riding but are too wary of cars to venture out on the road.
It’s understandable; we all know somebody who has been hit by a car or crashed on a descent and the trainer allows you to avoid these risks while still getting the benefits of cycling. Even the hardiest of riders have times of wanting to stay indoors, whether that’s during bad weather, rush hour, or nighttime. The trainer gives the “better safe than sorry” option for still knocking out a ride.
11. Increased Capacity for Suffering.
Riding outside offers the stimulus of scenery, the feel of wind in your hair, and the reprieve of a descent or a pause in your pedal stroke. You get none of that inside. It’s tedious. It’s uninterrupted pedaling. It makes every minute feel like five.
But then you go back outside and suddenly things feel easier by comparison. While that climb you come to in your next race might feel hard, it can’t possibly be as hard as pedaling nonstop for an hour while staring at a wall.
What doesn’t kill you makes you pedal harder.
Lindsay Goldman is the Team Manager and racer for the Hagens Berman | Supermint women’s road cycling team. She has raced her bike professionally for the past five years across North America while also spending significant time riding the trainer to balance the demands of a busy work schedule and to combat rough winters.
She will be starting the 2018 race season by welcoming her first baby in February and then using her Hammer smart trainer to get back into shape to take on the later half of the pro road race calendar.
When it comes to the actual workout, you really can't go wrong with either. Both indoor bike trainers and stationary bikes can provide high-quality aerobic exercise, as long as you're willing to put in the work. If your main goal is to improve your cardiovascular health and/or burn calories, the choice is yours.Is it a good idea to have a bike trainer? ›
When it comes to the actual workout, you really can't go wrong with either. Both indoor bike trainers and stationary bikes can provide high-quality aerobic exercise, as long as you're willing to put in the work. If your main goal is to improve your cardiovascular health and/or burn calories, the choice is yours.Why buy a bike trainer? ›
Indoor bike trainers allow you to use the bicycle that you already know and love as a stationary indoor bike (or road-side, if you're warming up for a race). Many riders use a stationary trainer as a training tool for time-saving, structured workouts, or as a substitute when conditions outside are poor.What is the difference between a stationary bike and trainer? ›
An indoor trainer is a motor designed to attach to a road or mountain bike and provide resistance. A stationary bike is a structure that attaches pedals to a system of resistance but lacks road-ready wheels.Is it better to ride outside or on a trainer? ›
You're likely to hold a very static body position on the indoor trainer compared to the adjustments you make outside. This means you fatigue quicker. In terms of raw power, studies have also shown that cyclists can produce more power riding outside than inside.How often should I use my bike trainer? ›
A good baseline to aim for is three 30 to 40-minute focused sessions a week, with some longer rides outside on the weekend or your days off work. Most of all, pace yourself, particularly if you are just getting started.What muscles does a bike trainer work? ›
While training on an exercise bike, you will primarily work your lower body muscles: your calves, thighs and glutes. Your abs will also get some work, and to a lesser extent, your arms. The exercise bike is also perfect for cardio work, strengthening your cardiovascular system.Is it harder to bike on a trainer? ›
“So an hour on the trainer would be roughly equivalent to an hour and 15 minutes on the open road.” Here's the catch: Your trainer workout may be more efficient, but it's also going to feel harder. If it doesn't, you're probably not working hard enough. Take this recent study from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.What is the point of a trainer? ›
Trainers teach skills to people or animals to better prepare them for a specific goal including a job, activity, or sport, or to improve upon already-established skills.What do you wear on a bike trainer? ›
- Castelli Insider jersey.
- Castelli Insider Bib Short.
- Le Col × Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey.
- Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Bib Shorts.
- Madison Turbo Jersey.
- Madison Turbo Bib Shorts.
- Dhb Aeron Turbo Shorts.
- Assos Superléger Short Sleeve Cycling Base Layer.
While riding the trainer, the human body is stationary. However, it is still creating vast amounts of body heat primarily via the metabolic needs of the leg muscles.Is bike trainer harder than road? ›
Training is never meant to be easy, but for those who push themselves hard indoors and outside there is often a common observation: indoor training feels harder and invariably requires greater commitment and higher energy output.Can you get in shape just on a stationary bike? ›
Riding a stationary exercise bike is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. Compared to some other types of cardio equipment, a stationary bicycle puts less stress on your joints, but it still provides an excellent aerobic workout.Should you sit or stand on a stationary bike? ›
According to a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, standing in the saddle is more effective than the seated position for generating high pedal forces.Is A bike trainer good for weight loss? ›
"Exercise bikes are good for weight loss because they are a really efficient and effective way to burn calories, and cycling is a cardiovascular aerobic activity that has added benefits such as strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles," says Rowe-Ham.Is it healthier to walk or cycle to work? ›
Cycling is more efficient than walking, so you'll probably work harder by walking briskly and probably exercise your heart, lungs and major muscles more. On the other hand, cycling is probably less hard on your hips, knees and ankles than walking.How long should you use a trainer for? ›
You should plan on working with a personal trainer for three to six months when you first get started. There are no secret exercises or programs in fitness. If you're doing the right things, your results will compound over time. A good personal trainer will work to help you feel comfortable and confident in your form.How many times a week should you see a trainer? ›
As a beginner, you should see a personal trainer two to three times a week for six weeks to start. This helps you establish a consistent fitness routine, which is important in the beginning. It is also a good opportunity to learn new workouts and techniques and ensure you perform exercises in the safest way possible.Does indoor cycling burn belly fat? ›
Yes, cycling can help lose belly fat, but it will take time. A recent study showed regular cycling may enhance overall fat loss and promote a healthy weight. To reduce overall belly girth, moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as cycling (either indoor or outdoor), are effective to lower belly fat.How long should you pedal on stationary bike? ›
Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes. Switch to medium intensity for 3-5 minutes. Alternate between high intensity (1-3 minutes) and medium intensity (3-5 minutes) for the next 20 to 30 minutes. Cool down by pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.
Depending on your health goals and the intensity of your workout, 30 minutes on a stationary bike can be enough to improve your fitness and lose weight. Adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease.Does cycling tone your stomach? ›
Tones Your Body
Moreover, one's core muscles get activated while he/she rides a bicycle. As core muscles are present in the abdominal area, this exercise tones one's belly, thereby making cycling good for weight loss on the stomach.
Cycling can help change body shape by burning calories and resulting in weight loss or by helping build muscle in the lower and upper body. However, for a dramatic change in body shape, cyclists will need to add strength training, especially if they're looking to increase power for speed over shorter distances.Does an exercise bike tone your stomach? ›
Yes – it's possible to complete a variation of crunches while on a bike! Simply pedal while contracting your abs inwards. Do this for one minute or so, then continue with regular pedaling. This is an easy way to tone your core while getting a great cardio workout at the same time.Can you damage a bike on a trainer? ›
“Depending on the trainer type and use, it may potentially apply unusual forces on your bicycle, wear parts and/or weaken or damage your bicycle,” reads an addendum to Specialized's owner's manual on trainer use. “This is especially true for carbon fibre bicycles rigidly attached to the trainer.”How do I stop being bored on my bike trainer? ›
Try for a 10-minute warmup, then go for four or five 8-minute intervals at that 80- to 85-percent effort. Cool down for 10 minutes. Done. The longer intervals are good time-trial training or for sustained climbing efforts.Can you change gears on a bike trainer? ›
If you have a controllable smart trainer (one with resistance) then you can use gears. When riding an event or just free riding in one of the worlds the trainer will automatically react to the gradient and you will be forced to change gear to match that gradient, just as you would do outdoors.What is a trainer not allowed to do? ›
While personal trainers often assume multiple roles with their clients — which sometimes includes being a coach, cheerleader, or confidant, there are some responsibilities that personal trainers should avoid. DO NOT give medical advice, physical therapy advice, or attempt to make a medical diagnosis.What are the strengths of a trainer? ›
Strong Organisational Skills:
Trainers must always be organised and well-prepared for training delivery. Good organisational skills not only help you feel prepared, they also help you to get back on track when something unexpected occurs, such as a technical difficulty, or a challenging personality in the group.
You do not need a mat to ride a bike trainer, but it certainly helps. Bike trainers put out a little bit of vibration, so using a thick rubber mat underneath will help absorb some of this and dampen the noise. Another good reason to use a mat is to protect your flooring from sweat.Do you need a special wheel for a bike trainer? ›
To avoid wear to your rear wheel, the best option is to use a spare wheel equipped with a trainer-specific tire and a sturdy cassette for a quick swap before riding indoors. If you're using a direct drive trainer, it's also best to purchase an extra cassette to keep permanently on your trainer.What is the best position to ride? ›
A good neutral riding position starts with the head and goes all the way to your feet. On long rides, check in occasionally with your body position to make sure you haven't drifted back into bad habits. Relax your shoulders and bring them down, away from your ears.Why are cyclists so strong? ›
This is because of the two main types of muscle fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Cyclists use more fast-twitch muscle fibers to generate more power at higher cadences. Bodybuilders also use more fast-twitch muscle fibers to build bigger muscles while weightlifting.How tight should bike trainer be? ›
You want the roller/tire contact point to be tight enough so that the tire does not slip as you pedal, but not so tight that it significantly increases the resistance provided by the trainer mechanism itself. Note that your rear tire will wear out significantly during your indoor training season.What gear is the hardest cycling? ›
High Gear = Hard = Good for Descending: The “highest” gear on your bike is the largest chain ring in the front and the smallest cog on your cassette (rear gears). In this position, the pedaling will be the hardest and you'll be able to accelerate while traveling downhill.Do training wheels slow down a bike? ›
They are slow and inhibiting (even for the best of riders – and I've seen some VERY proficient training-wheel riders.) They don't do corners well. They become an unnecessary crutch that prolongs a movement towards riding without training wheels at all.Is riding a bike with no hands skill? ›
Knowing how to ride with no hands is both a practical and a helpful skill to improve your overall bike handling. It will give you a better awareness of how to control the movements of your bike with your body.Is 1 hour cycling a day good? ›
According to Channa, one must cycle for at an hour or more, for fat loss. "Cycling is a cardio workout, in which one usually begins to burn fat only after the first 20 minutes. If you are walking, the fat burn will begin after that amount of time. So make sure that you do cycling for at least 30 minutes," he says.How much weight can you lose biking 30 minutes a day? ›
A person who weighs 185 pounds can burn 355 calories by cycling at this pace. And, at a faster pace of around 14 to 15.9 miles per hour, a 155-pound can burn up to 372 calories in just 30 minutes, while someone who weighs 185 pounds can burn 444 calories in that time frame.
Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.Should I ride stationary bike before or after breakfast? ›
In general, allow 2-4 hours before cycling, following a larger meal to allow for digestion, and 30mins - 2hours for a smaller snack. Consider the Glycaemic Index (GI) of carbohydrates - A food's GI measures how quickly it is digested and broken down into glucose.What are the disadvantages of a stationary bike upright? ›
The downsides of an upright bike include – more stress on your knees and ankles, greater muscle fatigue due to holding your body weight over the handlebars, harder to keep balanced, and extra stress on your back due to the hunched over position.Should I take a day off from stationary bike? ›
As we leave the house less frequently than before, using an exercise bike daily to burn some calories in a short amount of time and shedding those extra kilos would seem like a great idea. However, experts recommend to use an exercise bike 4-6 days a week and take at least one day off to let your muscles relax.Is walking or biking better for belly fat? ›
As the table above shows, cycling tends to burn more calories in the same time period compared with walking (1, 2). Thus, cycling may be the better choice if you want to lose weight but don't have a lot of time for exercise.How effective is a bike trainer? ›
When it comes to the actual workout, you really can't go wrong with either. Both indoor bike trainers and stationary bikes can provide high-quality aerobic exercise, as long as you're willing to put in the work. If your main goal is to improve your cardiovascular health and/or burn calories, the choice is yours.Is an exercise bike good for bad knees? ›
But, generally, stationary exercise bikes are a good way to strengthen muscles and ligaments surrounding the knee while keeping the stress on the area minimal. In fact, most physical therapists use stationary bikes as part of knee rehabilitation.Are bike rollers better than trainers? ›
In general terms, rollers allow the user to concentrate on his or her spinning technique and are very effective for developing base fitness. By contrast, trainers are far more effective at providing variable resistance workouts for developing strength and power.Is A bike trainer good for cardio? ›
Any basic bike trainer can provide a good aerobic workout. As you go up in price, models will offer greater precision and additional features.Can you get in shape from an exercise bike? ›
Riding a stationary exercise bike is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. Compared to some other types of cardio equipment, a stationary bicycle puts less stress on your joints, but it still provides an excellent aerobic workout.
Biking is a top-notch cardio workout. You'll burn about 400 calories an hour. Plus it strengthens your lower body, including your legs, hips, and glutes. If you want a workout that's gentle on your back, hips, knees, and ankles, this is a great choice.Can I lose my belly by cycling? ›
Yes, cycling can help lose belly fat, but it will take time. A recent study showed regular cycling may enhance overall fat loss and promote a healthy weight. To reduce overall belly girth, moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as cycling (either indoor or outdoor), are effective to lower belly fat.Is it better to stand or sit on spin bike? ›
How Much Does Standing in the Saddle Help You Generate More Cycling Power? A study says a fair amount, but the reasons why might surprise you. According to a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, standing in the saddle is more effective than the seated position for generating high pedal forces.Why use a mat with a bike trainer? ›
When you have found the right bike and trainer combo, it is important to make sure you have a good cycle mat to lay it on. A good mat is perfect of a good Zwift space, or any other trainer space. A supportive mat will keep the cycle bike from sliding, which could scratch hardwood or rip carpet flooring.What is the best wheel on bike trainer? ›
Best Wheel-On Trainer: Tacx Flow Trainer. Best Roller: Saris Aluminum Rollers. Best of the Rest. Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP.Is stationary bike good for knees? ›
According to a 2021 review published in Clinical Rehabilitation, exercising on stationary bikes lessened pain and improved function in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA).Is a stationary bike good for bad knees? ›
Stationary bikes and elliptical machines (a cross between a stair-climber and bicycle) allow you to get a good aerobic workout without stressing your knee joints. “Recumbent stationary bikes are even better because you're not sitting upright while exercising, which takes more weight off the knee joints,” says Gaesser.