Winter is now in full swing, and many rides will be blighted by bad weather, poor light, and increasingly pot-holed roads. That’s why most riders turn to turbo training to keep their fitness topped up through these chillier months.
If you’ve not yet discovered the amazing benefits of turbo training, we’ve pulled together 10 reasons why you need a turbo trainer this winter.
Go back 10 years and turbo training was a bland experience. A matter of turning the pedals while trying to keep yourself entertained in any way possible.
But those days have long gone. Now, there are lots of apps available that not only provide training plans, but also allow you to ride virtual worlds, race each other and even simulate pro races. Most turbo trainer brands also have their own training apps like Elite’s My E-Training app. So, indoor training is now lots of fun and you’ll never be short of entertainment.
Most apps also come with free trials so you can test around and find your favourite.
Thanks to these apps, you can now enjoy indoor riding with friends.
Not only can you ride alongside your riding buddies in virtual worlds, but you can talk to them at the same time through independent voice chats. They’re there to motivate you, have a chat with or joke with as you drop them on a climb – exactly like you would on an outdoor group ride. All without having to step outdoors.
You don’t have to use it for every ride
Let’s address the main argument from you purists out there – ‘nothing beats riding outdoors’.
And we agree! Bikes are designed for outdoor riding and it’s great to head out for a ride whenever possible. However, in winter, the weather often gets in the way, making a ride unpleasant or simply dangerous.
This is when a turbo trainer is handy, ensuring you don’t miss out on exercise on those miserable days. You don’t need to use it for every ride (although you can), just on those days when heading outdoors simply isn’t an option.
For most of us, the main aim is to get fitter and faster. That means following structured training plans and sessions.
Hitting power numbers during training sessions can be tricky when riding outdoors. There are lots of variables like traffic lights, traffic and downhill sections that are all out of your control. You also spend a lot of time freewheeling.
Using a turbo trainer is a much more efficient way to train as there is nothing stopping you meeting these numbers. Many trainers also have ERG mode which automatically changes the resistance to the power you need to be riding at – all you have to do is pedal.
Get fitter and faster
As a result, turbo training can actually make you fitter and faster.
There are now lots of apps that provide structured training sessions and long-term plans for indoor training, including Zwift, Trainerroad and Elite’s My E-Training.
You can find out more about the best indoor training apps here.
Train when you want
Let’s be honest, life can often get in the way of riding. That makes planning an outdoor ride difficult, especially in winter when there are limited opportunities due to the weather.
With a turbo trainer, there’s less planning. You can slot a turbo training session in whenever there’s the opportunity, and you don’t need to worry about other variables like the weather.
Train for climbing
OK, this one isn’t unique to winter. But if you live in an area that’s flat, it can be difficult to train for an event that involves long climbs.
These require a constant effort and there’s very little respite. The easiest way to replicate these efforts is with a turbo trainer and most apps will have sessions specifically designed for climbing. Zwift have even replicated the notorious Alpe d’Huez in the form of the Alp Du Zwift, so you can test yourself on an Alpine climb.
Pedalling technique is often overlooked but improving it can make a big difference to your performance.
While on a turbo trainer, it’s easier to work on your pedalling technique, making sure your legs have a fluid motion and your knees don’t poke in or out too much.
It’s also a great opportunity to work on your cadence. Lots of us grind out a low cadence but it’s generally recommended that you average between 80-95 rpm. Again, turbo training sessions are the perfect opportunity to not only train at different powers, but different cadences too.
Build mental toughness
We know, there’s nothing tougher than heading out for a ride in miserable conditions. But really, how much is it going to help? Your sole focus will be on getting around instead of doing a solid ride or training.
A turbo training session on the other hand will build your resilience in more productive ways. As discussed, there’s nowhere to hide when training on a turbo trainer. You can’t rely on a traffic light or downhill section to relieve your burning legs. Instead, it’s just you and the power numbers.
Pushing through these hard sessions will help when it comes to your events where power numbers and strong legs will be the main factor, not the weather (hopefully!).
Less bike cleaning
This is one everyone can get onboard with.
You’ll struggle to find many cyclists who enjoy cleaning their bike. It’s a necessity but one most put off for as long as possible. In summer this is easier as you’re riding on dry and clean roads. Come winter, it’s a completely different story. Dirt and grime lathers your bike and you’ll need to clean it after every ride.
Unless you stick to the turbo trainer.
Whatever type of cyclist you are, a turbo trainer is a great way to keep your fitness topped up over the months ahead. To learn more about the best turbo training apps, head over to our handy guide.
You can also explore our full range of turbo trainers from top brands including Elite over at Halfords.com. If you need a little help finding the perfect option, check out our turbo trainer buyer’s guide.