Whether you sit on a bike trainer out of necessity (it is still snowing in some parts of the country) or choice (efficiency, efficiency, efficiency), you should approach your trainer time with a specific, big-picture plan to reap the biggest benefits. Top coach Matt Dixon of Purplepatch Fitness, who trains some of the best cyclists in the sport, including Chris Lieto, offers smart advice—and a plan of attack—for making the most of your indoor bike training.
When utilized correctly, the stationary trainer can be a highly valuable year-round training tool. You just need to understand how to structure your workouts to get the most out of it. However, this does not mean that trainer workouts are a substitute for outdoor riding—handling skills and navigating terrain can only be improved with real road riding, and lots of it.
The common trainer approach for many triathletes is to spend countless hours sitting at a relatively low intensity—essentially trying to mimic outdoor “base” miles with long, steady intervals. These mind-numbing adventures are enough to drive most athletes crazy, and don’t yield significant returns. Others opt for only completing short, high-intensity sessions, which act as good fitness boosters, but are not part of a road map to progressive training where each session builds on the next.