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How To Fuel Your Indoor Trainer Workout

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

During winter cyclists and triathletes are forced to use the smart trainer, which is a very effective to get sessions training completed when the weather outside is poor.a little too much to handle. These indoor rides replicate our outdoor riding; kit, position, power, duration, cadence... However, one factor overlooked when riding inside is proper nutrition and hydration. More often than not, trainer rides are carried out at quite high intensity and require energy to complete at a high level and recovery from so your body is ready for the next season. A proper fueling plan will help take your training to the next level when you eventually head back outside.

Get It Right 

Pay attention to your body's needs. This is the time to really focus on fueling by taking in the correct amount of fuel to enhance your performance potential. The last thing you want to do is stop the session to get fresh bottles or gels.

Trainer rides are different from riding outside in ways that affect your fueling. For example, there is no coasting on the trainer, so energy needs are typically higher. Another example is that trainer rides are often in small spaces with poorer airflow, making your core temp increase more than normal, creating a higher sweat rate and increasing your need to take in hydration and electrolytes.

Set It Out 

On the trainer, you have the unique ability not to worry about bringing enough fuel with you. Set out your fuel and hydration needs on a table within reach of your bike. This way it is in sight and you are more likely to grab it, instead of forgetting about it being stashed in your kit pocket. Take this one step further by setting out your fuel in the order you plan to consume it. For example, place the order of gels, bars and chews that your ride demands. This will help you adhere to consuming enough and tracking what you do and do not take in by the end. 


When cycling indoors, it is much easier to experiment with your intake, and every cyclist should try to mix things up to find what really works best for their body and performance. Whether it is upping your gut's tolerance of carbohydrates per hour or testing out whole foods instead of sport food, the trainer is the place to do it. Trying new forms and amounts of drink mixes, carbohydrates, caffeine, sodium, supplements and other forms of fuel can help you determine how to fuel your outdoor training and racing season in the best way. Shaking things up during key training is never suggested as things can go wrong (GI issues, bonking) while your body adjusts to processing new fuel. However, when inside, you can easily get off the trainer and hit the restroom if anything goes wrong. 

If these fueling and hydration adjustments seem daunting to you, talk to a sports dietitian to develop a plan that's right for your specific training needs and get the most out of your indoor riding.

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