Snowstorm Indoor Cycling Training Plan

Make the Most of Two Days Stuck Indoors

Out west the Sierras and Rockies got pummeled by snow earlier this week, and this weekend it’s the East Coast’s turn. Across the northern half of the US, and maybe some parts of the south, a lot of cyclists and triathletes are going to be spending the next few days riding indoors. Runners fare pretty well in snowstorms, but unless you have a fatbike a cyclist’s best bet for training is going to be on the indoor trainer. In addition to encouraging everyone affected by this weekend’s storm to stay safe, I have a two-day Snowpocalypse Indoor Cycling Block for you!

Download your free copy of the Snowpocalypse Indoor Cycling Block

It’s sunny and warm where you are? Then go outside! But even if you’re not on the East Coast this weekend, there’s bound to be some point during the year when you’re stuck indoors for two days. Yes, even you folks in the warm southern states who sometimes point out that these winter-oriented blogs don’t apply to you. This one does. You have hurricanes. And regardless of where you live, sometimes it’s not the weather that keeps you from training outdoors. It may just be the other priorities you have during certain weekends.

When you have the opportunity to ride indoors for two back-to-back days (we’re going to stay positive and look at the bright side of this, people!) I want you to keep two goals in mind:

Goal #1: 2000 Kilojoules

Between your two rides, aim to accumulate a total of 2000 Kilojoules. To accumulate this workload in two indoor rides could mean two very hard training sessions, two relatively long training sessions, or one of each. At a steady endurance pace (riding along steadily while watching a movie) you might accumulate 500Kj/hr, so you would need 4 hours total on the trainer over the course of two days. If you do two interval workouts that increase your hourly output to 800Kj/hr, you’re looking at two 75-minute workouts.

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I picked 2000 Kilojoules because it’s a good middle-ground number for moderately-fit, medium-sized athletes. If you’re using a Wahoo Fitness KICKR or KICKR SNAP you can see your kilojoule count on the iphone app or your ELEMNT or other handlebar-mounted computer. The kilojoules of work you perform are based on the power you produce and the duration of the effort (Kilojoules = Average power x duration x 3.6). So, averaging 200 watts for 1 hour yields 720 kilojoules of work. If you could average 200 watts for about 2 hours and 46 minutes, you’d accumulate 2000 Kilojoules. But beginners have lower average power outputs. So do smaller riders, who might have high power-to-weight ratios but still have relatively low actual power outputs. These groups would have to be on the trainer a lot longer to accumulate 2000 Kilojoules. In contrast, bigger riders with more muscle mass, or strong and experienced riders, have higher power outputs and might blow through 2000 Kilojoules a lot quicker.

You can either keep it simple and just shoot for 2000 Kilojoules, or adjust as follows based on your size and fitness level. If you fit into two categories, like a small rider with advanced fitness, aim for the middle group: 2000Kj.

Smaller or Beginner Moderate size and fitness Bigger or advanced fitness
1700 Kilojoules 2000 Kilojoules 2300 Kilojoules
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Goal #2: Focus on one energy system

Depending on the time of year and your goals you can use an indoor weekend training block to focus on aerobic development with Tempo workouts, power at lactate threshold with intervals like SteadyStates, or power at VO2max with short, maximum-intensity intervals. Whatever you choose, the idea is to target the same energy system both days. You can even do the exact same workout both days. To keep things more interesting than that, the two different interval sets in the Snowpocalypse Indoor Cycling Block both aim to improve your sustainable power at lactate threshold.

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Lactate threshold intervals are well suited to indoor training in the winter. They are more challenging than steady, moderate-paced riding, and hence generate more kilojoules in less time. They are more engaging than moderate-paced endurance riding indoors as well. And, improving power at lactate threshold helps to increase your sustainable pace and power output at your “cruising” intensity.

Stay Safe and Warm!

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS

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Comments 4

  1. Try BASKETBIKE! It’s pretty simple, I train while watching a basketball game! Steady state but get up out of the saddle during ads and time outs. When I’m feelin spunky – I sprint during 20 second TO’s. Halftime is low cadence grindfest. Last five minutes there’s a lot of out of saddle. Now games are only 48 minutes but they last 2+ hours so it’s a pretty good workout. Do it to your team schedule – the back to backs are murder but make you stronger! Fortunately for me I live in SF so my home team is the Warriors – watch Stephen “vindaloo” Curry – he’s hot! hot! hot!

  2. Great two day plan. I’m based in Canada with a 5 month snowpocalypse! Any sources for a longer term winter indoor training plan? In act of drunken bravado over Christmas signed up for Etape du tour. Now trying to figure out what indoor training is best for that type of event, long sustained climbs.

    1. Hey Mike, I am like you, stuck in the deep freeze (Edmonton) and many years, I am lucky if I cycle outside 12 weeks (I am a fair weather rider though). I found three things that work great for me (I once did Ironman New Zealand in March with 0 rides outside):
      – The CTS cycling videos. There is a series of twenty-something DVD’s that get progressively harder and keep you engaged and interested.
      – Sufferfest – that is a site that sells you videos and now is more evolved and you can connect to your devices (I have not used it in a while). The thing with sufferfest is that it has great music (according to me) and keeps the workouts very fun with images of actual races and what not.
      – Spinning class – yes…. it can be tacky, you might not look forward to doing “pushups” in your handlebar, but the fact of the matter is that it takes you out to the basement and the social aspect of it is fun (not to mention necessary with all those lonely miles).
      PEDAL ON!

  3. Hello CTS gang

    Every other morning a friend, sometimes wife and myself ride in my basement to either your Max Power, Cadence, Time Trial Cycling for Fitness and on occasion a Tour of Cali..

    We find them to be excellent videos that make for a fast and effective hour of training. I have a few pals in other cities that will also ride to them at the same time as we do on ocassion. I am not strong enough to do it alone so having this support group really does help. We’re on our 7th winter in doing this.

    I always highly recommend this to others as I do here in this blog. I prefer the hard copy DVD as opposed to the downloads only because of the way my pain cave’s AV system is rigged up.

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