Tips for maximizing your indoor training

Indoor training season is upon us and although I’d rather we’d all rather be riding outside, the truth of the matter is you can make huge gains with relatively short workouts on the trainer. Below I’ve included a few tips for maximizing your time on the trainer.

I’m excited for the winter because two days ago our newest workout DVD arrived in the office. It’s a great one-hour workout featuring a mix of short, maximal efforts and longer lactate threshold efforts. If you do group rides or any type of road, cross, or mountain bike racing it’s exactly the type of workout you need. And since it’s the 2011 Amgen Tour of California Workout DVD, you get to relive the excitement of the 2011 ATOC on top of doing a great workout! (Click to watch a preview clip)

Another reason I have DVDs on my mind is that I was in the studio yesterday doing my on-screen portions for our next training DVD, an 85-minute climbing workout that features four of the biggest climbs from the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge – including tons of footage that was never seen during the television coverage! It’s a great workout – the longest one we’ve ever put on a DVD – and it will be available next month.

There are a few tips and guidelines I want to remind you of as you go into the indoor cycling season:

  1. Indoor training still has to be progressive: You can’t just do the same DVD time and time again and expect to continually get better. Training DVDs can be mixed and matched to plug into a training schedule just like any other workouts, and you have to look at the energy systems being stressed in the workout, group DVDs with similar physical demands together into training blocks, and structure your indoor training so you’re gradually increasing your weekly workload. (Click here to view the Train Right Guide to Indoor Training, a 6-week training program that features recommended DVD substitutions for each workout)
  2. Don’t forget recovery: Some people think that since most indoor cycling workouts are only 60-75 minutes, you need to do one every day of the week in order to accumulate enough workload to see an improvement. But the one-hour trainer workouts are typically more intense than your normal outdoor rides, so you’re getting a big training stimulus in a short period of time. You need to recover from these efforts in order to adapt. Even if you’re only relying on indoor workouts for your winter training, I would recommend a maximum of 5 interval-based indoor sessions (most athletes should only do 3-4).
  3. Airflow is crucial: If you’re going to spend a lot of time on a trainer, invest in three fans. I recommend directing one at your face (or at least across your head), one at the front of your torso, and one at your back. Indoors it’s ridiculously easy to overheat, which throws your sweat response into hyperdrive and increases the stress you’re putting on your body. That additional stress makes it more difficult to recover between workouts and hinders your ability to adapt and make progress.

All Train Right DVD titles – including both the 2010 and 2011 Tour of California workout DVDs – are available at: And if you’ve moved on from physical DVDs, we now have 27 titles available as video downloads! They’re available right on the same page.

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Through the winter, indoor training can be immensely valuable. On average, athletes see a 13% increase in max sustainable power just from using the 16-session Progressive Power Series over an 8-week period. When you add in additional sessions and extrapolate the impact over 4+ months, your potential for performance improvement this winter is absolutely incredible. So get on it!

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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Comments 4

  1. I have all of the videos and would like recommendations on how to put them in program for maximum benefit. Kinda like a progressive in home camp.:)

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