Winter is coming! It’s time to dust off the turbo trainer and take your training rides indoors with a range of indoor cycling apps aimed at keeping you motivated.
But don’t despair. Indoor training no longer means furiously turning the pedals while staring at a blank wall. With a constantly increasing number of indoor training apps, turbo training has never been more engaging. Whether meeting up with your mates for a group ride, racing or wanting to put in some hard training miles, there’s a turbo trainer app for you.
Use our indoor training app guide for inspiration and prepare yourself for months of turbo training fun.
Why bother with indoor training apps?
Jumping on your turbo and turning the pedal for half an hour may make you feel a little better about yourself, but you’re unlikely to make much progress toward your training goals. For most of us, turbo training or spinning could have been a chore – but not anymore.
Indoor training apps attempt to bring some of the great of the great outdoors inside, making solo training interesting. Some cycling apps enable you to ride virtual simulations of iconic climbs of the world, while others let you race against friends and foes from around the world. Some apps allow you to create a virtual peloton and even chat with other riders while you’re clocking up those virtual miles.
What are the benefits of using an indoor training app?
As well as providing a more immersive and enjoyable cycling experience than you’d get while listening to your Spotify playlist and staring at your garage wall, indoor training apps can also measure and monitor your performance, giving you a breakdown of your fitness. And help you to make progress.
Some virtual training apps include training plans designed to help you to tackle your weaknesses, including supercharging your sprint through intervals or building up your climbing capability by stimulating the resistance you’d experience on an Alpine or Pyrennean climb.
The cycling training apps in our round-up will all help you to achieve different things as a rider. If you’re a straight up racer you’ll want something different from the average club rider looking to maintain their fitness during lockdown – the good news is, there’s an app for that.
Zwift is quickly becoming a household name among cyclists, with the app credited with a massive increase in turbo trainer sales. Zwift makes indoor cycling fun, by gamifying the solitary cycling experience. Zwift can be described as a massive multiplayer online cycling and running video game where users can interact, train and compete in a virtual world.
While using Zwift, you create your own character or avatar that exists in the virtual world. You can choose to ride over 80 routes in six virtual worlds, spanning simple spins to lung-busting rides. Within this world you can chat to friends, take part in group rides, races and do interval training sessions. Recently, previous Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas put in a mammoth Zwift shift to raise money for the NHS, riding over 400km in 36 hours.
Like many training apps, Zwift app works on a monthly subscription basis which makes it cost-effective to take it out for a spin to see if it works for you.
Trainer Road is a rival to Zwift which focuses on data to improve your performance. One of the benefits of Trainer Road is its incredible range of structured training plans, including brutal interval sessions. It’s arguably a more serious piece of software than Zwift, focusing less on the social element and more on training.
While using Trainer Road you’ll get a read out of performance data, including power output, cadence and heart rate – particularly useful while tracking performance and monitoring progress. The app works best when paired with a power meter but can be used with a smart turbo trainer. If you’re looking for the perfect training partner. Trainer Road comes with over 1,000 interval training sessions and 100 training plans, so there’s enough here for a lifetime off the road.
Sufferfest is, as the name suggests, about delivering tough and targeted turbo workouts. The app can be tuned to a rider’s power profile, with training plans designed to help you improve as a cyclist and iron out any weaknesses. The app can help you to make improvements to your whole riding style, including workouts to improve form and pedalling style.
The Sufferfest platform is a natural competitor to Trainer Road, with its focus on performance and power. Where they differ is that Sufferfest allows you to watch videos while riding, whereas Trainer Road is all about stats. You can select your own videos or choose from those within the app, and your cycling stats will be overlaid on the top.
Peloton differs to the other cycling apps on this list as it isn’t compatible with a standard turbo trainer set-up. Instead, you need the Peloton stationary bike. This does come with its benefits, as the stationary bike offers a stiff yet responsive ride, more like riding outdoors. It’s also much quieter than a turbo trainer, thanks to a fully integrated design.
In terms of training, it’s less performance focussed than other options here. Taking inspiration from 90s workout videos, the Peloton app provides a range of motivational classes. A trainer will always be on your screen, offering encouragement. The number and type of classes are too numerous to mention, but suffice to say, there’s a lot! It may not offer the performance benefits of other apps in this list, but if you’re someone who finds indoor training dull, Peloton is for you.
RGT is built for riders who game by gamers who ride. The game dynamics are incredibly advanced, with the makers studying and replicating the feel of riding in a group and transferring these to a virtual world. The attention to detail is impressive and paired with a suitable smart trainer, it’s the most realistic replication of real-world cycling on the market.
Road Grand Tours is particularly relevant to road and crit racers looking to maintain their edge during lockdown. The app is currently available for free during the coronavirus outbreak, a generous gesture from the developers that is sure to be popular with all cyclists.
Les Mills is less of a cycling app and more for all-round fitness. The flashy app offers over 800 workouts, including spin classes, cross-fit and yoga. The other apps featured here are all about cycling, whereas Les Mills offers a much broader appeal, with classes suitable for riders and racers as well as the rest of the family.
One strength of Les Mills on demand is the ability to stream it to your TV, using Apple TV, Chromecast or Amazon Firestick. Cyclists of all ages and abilities should look to broaden their workout and build all-round strength and flexibility. While Les Mills may not have training plans or performance monitoring, the workouts featured are enough to help strengthen your core and upper-body, which makes it worth considering if you can’t face another turbo session (or don’t have a set!). Even better, all Halfords customers can sign up for a 25% discounted rate – only £8.95 per month using this exclusive link.
Stay safe, enjoy your indoor training, and hit the warmer months in the cycling form of your life! If you’re looking for more accessories be sure to check out our wide range of turbo trainer accessories online.