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Turbo Training | A Beginners Guide to Indoor Cycling

Words by Tom Worsfold

on 21/10/2020 11:36:00

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Note: With the current COVID-19 outbreak indoor training is the perfect way to stay safe, take less risks and keep fit inside your own home. Browse our wide range of turbo trainers here.

Indoor cycling has become ever more popular through the years, offering a sheltered alternative to winter training and keeping you in top shape through the off-season. Turbo trainer technology has come on in leaps and bounds, with realistic direct-drive models and virtual training software now being the norm.

Shop our turbo trainer range now >

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The Benefits of Indoor Training

We would all like to train outside in the real world whenever possible, but it is nice to know that you will never slip on black ice in the comfort of your own living room. Indoor training sessions allow you to target key areas and easily follow workout plans, meaning you can look to:

  • Improve your fitness
  • Lose weight
  • Prepare for your next race
  • Keep fit over winter
  • Emulate famous roads from all round the world!
  • Many even find it easier to concentrate indoors, with turbo trainers allowing you to focus on the workout at hand instead of the distractions and dangers of the roads.

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    Find the Perfect Space - Build Your Pain Cave

    As a bare minimum, you will need a bike and a set of bike rollers or turbo trainer. But how do you make the most of the space you have, and how much room do you need? A general rule of thumb is that a standard setup takes up the same amount of room as a single bed. It is worth noting that indoor training can generate a fair amount of noise, so plan to be situated away from the bedroom if living with a partner or family!

    Wheel on trainers take up slightly more room and direct drive models slightly less, with rollers taking up the most floor space when in use. It can get toasty while training, so aim to have good airflow and to be near a plug socket to power fans, accessories and your turbo.

    For those in smaller accommodations such as a studio flat or apartment, your local gym can be the perfect substitute. Spin classes add a group workout element and help to offer the motivation needed to push your limits, and most exercise bikes offer workout options that mirror the fitness plans found on virtual trainer programs. Want to learn more about virtual training apps? Check out our beginners guide to Zwift here.

    Find Your Perfect Setup

    Everyone's perfect setup will be different, with all riders having different needs and goals. So, turbo trainer or rollers?

    Depending on what you are looking for, turbos and set of rollers offer two very different experiences. Rollers have a focus on building correct technique and form, allowing you to train your cadence and develop a more powerful, smooth pedal stroke. They also require more skill to use, with the initial technique often requiring a bit of time to get to grips with. Our tip, start next to a wall to build your confidence.

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    For many, a turbo trainer will be the better option. They allow you to adhere to a highly structured training plan, offering adjustable resistance for you to focus on power output rather than staying upright. Smart trainers such as the Wahoo Kickr Core allow you to ride on Zwift and other virtual training programs, adding a whole new dimension to your training experience.

    Test yourself against the pros or ride with your cycling buddies in an online group, Zwift-ing allows you to bring the outside into the comfort of your own home.

    The Cost - How Much Should You Spend

    Depending on the features your training requires, an indoor training setup can cost anything from £150.00 to £3000.00+. For many, a simple trainer is all that’s needed, but for the best training experience a direct drive smart turbo trainer is highly recommended.

    Wheel on trainers offer the best value for money and are adjustable to fit a range of tyre sizes and axle widths. Many of these will be compatible with virtual training apps, but it is worth checking with our expert advisors in-store and online for product specifics. Saris make a range of wheel on trainers starting from £149.99.

    This type of trainer tends to be lighter and more portable, making them easier to store than direct drive models. It is recommended that with any wheel on trainer that you swap your rear tyre for a harder wearing turbo trainer specific model as standard tyres can wear through quickly.

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    When using a direct drive trainer, you remove the rear wheel of your bike and mount your bike directly onto the cassette on the trainer. You can either use the cassette from your bike, or alternatively purchase another to make the switch from outdoor to indoor riding easier. This type of trainer is generally far more accurate and powerful, giving a more realistic ride feel and usually featuring a built in power meter.

    Direct drive trainers are able to create higher resistance and need less calibration than a wheel on trainer and are our recommendation for anyone looking for a premium training experience, see our full turbo trainer range here.

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    Wahoo Kickr V5 Smart Turbo Trainer

    Delivering one of the most realistic ride experiences available without having to step out and ride in the abysmal British winter, the Kickr V5 is Wahoo’s latest version of their beloved and favoured smart turbo trainers. Offering up to 3 Simultaneous Bluetooth connections, you can workout hassle free whilst the Kickr records your speed, distance, power and cadence without any adding any additional sensors. The Kickr V5 is possibly one of the most versatile trainers on the market considering it can adjust to fit wheel sizes anywhere from 24” to 29” and whether it is disc brakes or rim brakes - all the options are available without a front wheel block necessary.

    • Dimensions - 51x71x44cm (legs open)
    • Simulated gradient - +20%/-10%
    • Wireless Software Updates via the Wahoo Fitness app
    • Connectivity - ANT+ FEC, Bluetooth
    Shop now
    SARIS-H3-TURBO-1

    Saris H3 Direct Drive Silent Smart Trainer

    Incredibly well built, improved internals that accomodate 2% power accuracy and near-silent performance, the H3 is incredible when it comes to indoor training!

    • Power measurement accuracy: +/- 2%.
    • Simulates a 20% climbing grade.
    • Integrated dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS standards.
    • Compatible with Shimano8-11 speed cassettes.
    Shop now

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    The Ultimate training machine - Kickr Bike

    Sat at the front of the indoor training trend, Wahoo’s new Kickr Bike is a fully customisable bike that takes your training to the next level. Able to replicate gradients as low as -15% and as high as +20% - the rider is able to get the full training experience thanks to the bikes accurate +/-1% power measurement. The rider is fully in control of their set up, they have access to programme their shifting to match their summer bike, crank arm length, and general sizing and geometry of the bike. This is the Ultimate indoor training machine!

    Shop Kickr Bike here >

    Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

    FTP is a phrase you will hear a lot when researching turbo trainers, but it is not as complicated as it sounds. It is the number that represents your current fitness level, the wattage you can stay below and sustain for the duration. This metric is used as a baseline to improve upon, with virtual apps such as Zwift allowing you to take an FTP test. Use it as a way to tell if your fitness level is improving, or to brag to your friends at the cafe.

    Tips and Tricks - Must Have Accessories

    So that is it, you are ready to get hooked on turbo training - but what else do you need? When it comes to accessories there are a few must haves which will make your training experience that much better:

    Fans: It will not take long to discover that training at home is sweaty business, a decent fan makes all the difference and can keep you pushing your limits. Take this to the next level with the Wahoo KICKR Headwind, a sensor controlled smart fan that increases fan speed alongside heart rate or ride speed.

    A Towel: As above, you are going to get pretty toasty when in full workout mode. A towel is a must have within arms reach. For bonus points wear sweatbands for that ever-trendy 80’s aesthetic. Muc off have just the kit to keep you going during and after a ride!

    Floor Mat: Yes you could use a yoga mat, but trainer specific mats will look the part and stop your floor getting damaged. A win-win!

    Sweat Protection: Sweat and headsets do not mix well, with it being easy to demolish a set of bearings after a few heavy sessions on the turbo. See our sweat protection nets here.

    Headphones: Headphones such as those from Aftershokz are a must have, keeping the noise down for your neighbors and your stoke-levels high. We recommend a bluetooth model to keep cables to a minimum!

    The correct axle adapter for your wheel: Wheels and hubs come in all shapes and sizes these days, the introduction of boost hubs now means that turbo trainers need to cater for all hub diameters. Axle adapter kits are widely available to ensure that your frame fits your turbo trainer.

    Steering: For a more realistic indoor training experience, instead of having your wheel locked in place by a block, you can replace the block with a steering unit that is compatible with all direct drive and wheel on trainers as well as being able to fit up to 57c tyres!

    A Zwift Subscription: Zwift is one of the most well known training apps - and for good reason. It gives a fun and rewarding virtual training experience allowing you to unlock new areas, bonuses and more, simulating every climb, descent and surface. It has built in tests to measure your FTP, setting the bar for you to improve and better your riding.

    Shop our turbo trainer range now >

    Looking for your very own indoor training setup? Get in contact with your local store, shop online, or call our expert sales team on 0330 555 0080.

    Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store