There are many reasons to train indoors. Winter weather can have you “snowed in”, you can be recovering from an injury or, as we’ve seen in the last two months, you may be one of the many people all over the world who are currently in lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic (March, 2020). No matter your reason, here are the top three indoor trainer setups that work with our Kilowatt programs along with some pros and cons.
The Smart Trainer
The Rolls Royce of indoor trainer set ups. Smart trainers are portable, fun and open up a world of possibilities when it comes to indoor training. A smart trainer allows you to use apps such as Zwift and Trainer Road to their fullest. Smart trainers are so smart, that they interact with apps such as Zwift to adjust the resistance relative to the gradient of the virtual road. You can climb a virtual Alpe d’Huez feeling all the gradient changes and steep pinches. Furthermore, smart trainers allow a lot more virtual racing and group ride opportunities on apps such as Zwift which is a great way to stay motivated while stuck indoors. From a coaching perspective, doing workouts on smart trainers using Trainer Road and Zwift removes a lot of athlete error as the trainer alters the resistance based on the coaches specifications. All you have to do is ride!
Pros: vRacing/vGroup rides, less complicated when completing prescribed workouts, cool virtual worlds with variable resistance relative to gradients.
Cons: Expensive, heavy, don’t develop bike handling skills (which is about the only user experience that’s missing)
Often referred to as “dumb” trainers in the post smart trainer world. Despite the unfortunate nickname, classic trainers are still an extremely effective way to develop fitness indoors. Like a smart trainer, classic trainers can be used in conjunction with apps such as Zwift and Trainer Road, however you won’t get the full user experience as the trainer can’t alter resistance to mimic the “real” virtual world around you. Classic trainers have dropped in price significantly since smart trainers burst onto the scene, and when coupled with a power meter there isn’t a lot you can’t achieve from a fitness standpoint. Furthermore, if you’re a heart rate based athlete, I would recommend using a classic trainer over a smart trainer (save your money and spend it on Netflix, Stan, Amazon, etc, whatever you like watching to keep your mind occupied).
You can upload your Kilowatt program from Training Peaks onto your cycling computer so you won’t have to complete your workout from memory. You will however, have to alter resistance to meet the prescribed heart rate/power levels using an old school methodology of gears, cadence and grit. WARNING, classic trainers can burn through your rear tyre rapidly due to friction between the trainer wheel and your tyres.
Pros: Cheap, effective, portable, great for heart rate based athletes.
Cons: Less fun and less indoor possibilities when compared with smart trainers, will wear out tyres.
Also known as the old school method. Rollers are fun, a little scary and let’s be honest, just so gosh darn sexy (in this coaches opinion). Like smart trainers and classic trainers, rollers are by no means an impediment to using apps like Zwift. When coupled with a heart rate monitor as well as speed and cadence sensors, you can still zipp about the virtual world at your leisure (however power meter recommended if using this option). Rollers are great for leg speed development and will challenge your bike handling skills.
One major drawback from using rollers is that it is very hard to develop leg strength and high power at cadences of 80-100rpm. This is due to the lack of resistance. This by no means is a roadblock to becoming a Kilowatt athlete. If you prefer using heart rate, there is no reason why you can't complete 90% of a Kilowatt program on the rollers (minus the strength efforts). Furthermore, you will find yourself mentally stimulated as you must focus throughout your entire ride to not fall off! And when your rollers skills get particularly good, you can start to perform cool rollers tricks (After you finish this blog and you’ve signed up as a Kilowatt athlete, head over to youtube and search “rollers tricks”. You won’t regret it).
Pros: Fun, sexy, bike handling skills, leg speed, tricks.
Cons: Can be limiting on a full program, falling off, bulky.