Many cyclists are now using watt based training bikes in gyms with variable levels of success being reported. The common denominator amongst those who are reaping benefits are structure and understanding the concepts of power based training as well as understanding their specific power zones for the various aspects of training with power.
To make the point about the benefits of indoor training, one need to go no further than having a look at American Any Potts as an example of an athlete who achieved amazing results after switching his training regimen to training 90% of the time indoors. In winning a 70.3 half Ironman championship, Andy averaged 43.5 kilometers per hour on the bike. Being a fairly big athlete at around 79 kilogram, Andy averaged about 330 watts for the 90 kilometer ride. That by itself is an exceptional performance, but to follow it with a 21 kilometer run in 71.5 minutes is staggering.( running at 3 minutes 24 seconds a kilometer).
This quote about indoor riding: “it wasn’t until I spent a winter training for Japan’s Strongman Triathlon that I truly learned the benefits of indoor training. Winter made riding outdoors impossible, which left me, riding indoors. By the time I got to Japan, I had logged hour after hour on the bike, but only about four of them had been outdoors. To my surprise I had the bike ride of Life.”
Andy Potts , together with his coach helping to plan his sessions, has been working methodically and patiently to develop his threshold power. It is a matter of training by the numbers, the correct numbers and interval durations for him, consistency and being patient.
An indoor trainer where you can connect your own bike to the trainer and riding with accurate power is ideal. Even the best training bikes out there such as Wattbike , cannot duplicate your ideal riding position.
Bike trainers like the Wahoo Kicker trainers used at Redhub, and used by professional team Sky are ideal to ride structured sessions and to compact the quality of training. Not wasting time, in fact getting a much needed effect of compacting benefits over time used, No coasting or uneven riding effort, as is the case with road riding and with the help of fitness assessments and testing as is done at Redhub to individualize training.
A studio is a safe environment, away from traffic and other risks and athletes can focus on the riding.
A note of caution. Getting “fit” for a specific event is about conditioning each aspect of an athlete’s profile relevant to the event. For example, training for a four hour event still requires long rides for endurance purposes. An intense effort in an indoor environment will certainly help, and a two hour well designed indoor session will create great muscle endurance and some endurance, but the long ride for endurance purposes is still best completed outside over a weekend!
It is worthwhile making a study of terminology such as muscle endurance or strength endurance to understand the differences and how to isolate such components in an indoor environment for execution outdoors!
The modern , effective way of conditioning is to separate threshold, anaerobic ability , muscle endurance, strength, speed, power , endurance , strength endurance in order to condition the athlete for each of these components separately to achieve a better overall result. The indoor studio is an ideal environment to do so as a supplement (in many cases a much better alternative) to traditional time in the saddle outdoors.
The message of this article, is , yes indoor training is not only good , but worthwhile as a strategy, but as is the case with many things need to be supported by structure, knowledge and consistency.