Sessions on turbo trainers aren’t just about being able to ride in the warm
they are also about improving your cycling…
Find your max
Knowing your maximum heart rate will help you design accurate sessions. Hook yourself up to an HR monitor and start cycling at 10mph, at an average 100w output or at a suitable cadence (e.g. 53×19 at 90rpm). Every minute, raise this by 1mph, 20w or one gear harder. Keep riding until you can no longer maintain 70rpm without feeling like you might black out. This is your max HR.
Concentrating on your breathing can make a session more focused and get more oxygen into your blood. Warm up for 20 minutes then increase effort gradually every minute, breathing through the nose. At a certain heart rate you will have to switch to mouth breathing. Back off until you can breathe deeply through your nose only. This is the top of Zone 1, around 80% HR max.
Set a benchmark against which you can measure improvements. First calibrate resistance: get the speed up to 20mph then time how long it takes to roll back to zero; do this before each session. Warm up for 20 minutes at an easy pace, then do as hard a 20 minute effort as you can. Note your mileage, wattage and average heart rate. Repeat every eight weeks to note improvements.
A turbo session is a great way of getting in some steady, predictable base training, with consistent, flat riding endurance sessions in Zone 1. If the weather is too miserable to go outside, set up your turbo trainer in front of a virtual ride DVD or get your headphones in and listen to some tunes, then ride it out for a few hours, staying warm and dry but still churning out the miles.