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Making full use of your smart trainer

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

You shouldn’t think of your static trainer as an alternative to riding in bad weather, you use it because it’s effective, controlled and time efficient.

Training for all

Indoor training has been popular with pro cyclists and their coaches for some time. Now that there is a wide range of affordable smart trainers available amateur cyclists, more and more keen cyclist are beginning to get used to the idea of using the indoor trainer is to improve their fitness, measure their progress and make better use of their time.

Whatever the riders ability, the smart trainer (when used in conjunction with a training programme), can be used to improve a range of performance targets including sprinting speed, climbing ability, threshold power and endurance. Typically the sessions need not be any longer than 45–60 minutes.

Recovery aid

Be it recover from injury, or an indication that an injury may be on its way. The smart trainer is also very useful in helping you and your coach add structure to the recovery process of your training plan.

By monitoring power and heart rate closely for each session, the rider and coach can address quickly and accurately the warning signs of overtraining, illness and recovery. A drop off in power or an inconsistent heart rate is a warning that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. This data can work in a positive manner when a rider is returning from injury, as they will be able to see and measure their improvement.

In addition, a smart trainer has proven very effective when recovering from an upper body injury, such as a broken collar bone. This was demonstrated by 2016 Paris Roubaix winner Matt Hayman who banked nearly 1,000 miles on Zwift in the month leading up to the race. Matt's main personal goal of the season were the classics in April, a chance for him to shine before he returns to his role as road captain for the rest of the season. He had worked so hard over winter to be in shape for the classics, that when he fractured the radius bone in his right arm at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race February 27, he continued to train and reach peak physical condition from indoor riding alone. The trainer allowed Matt to structure his training and replicate the type of efforts required in racing, without the risks of hampering the healing process with vibration from the road.

External Factors

Marginal gains are not just for the top professional level. Competitive amateur cycling is more and more about attention to detail. If you work with a coach they will want you to train very specifically for some of your sessions, for this they will suggest the smart trainer for it controllability.

There are so many distractions outside - traffic, pedestrians, road furniture, weather etc. If your coach has prescribed a certain interval set it can be very difficult to complete this safely and concentrate on the effort in hand taking into account all these distractions.

Compatible sessions

The smart trainer and road rides do actually complement each other well. When the weather allows, I prefer my riders to complete their endurance training sessions outdoors. There is the social aspect to take into consideration as well as riding technique and skill development, descending, cornering and fueling on the go.

As you have seen with pro racers, it’s also good for warming down from a race or a hard session, especially if the final part of your ride doesn’t allow you to ease off.

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