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Indoor Training — ASSOS Meets Swiss Cycling

Indoor training is a curious activity; traditionally it was done out of necessity during winter’s shorter days or as a refuge from bad weather, but now with the emergence of advanced smart trainers and training/gaming apps like Zwift, pedalling indoors offers us benefits we could never have imagined.

So, what’s the best way to get the most of it, making sure that you’re ready for the roads that are waiting for many of us? How should we approach our training sessions? Should it all be about intervals?

To Swiss Cycling’s expert understanding, the benefits of indoor training range from fitness to improving your VO2 max, practising a more efficient pedal stroke, obtaining an optimised position, and building up more mental resilience than you knew you were capable of.

With every hour that passes on the home trainer, we’re all making gains.

We’ve spoken to friends of the brand at Swiss Cycling for their top tips and guidance.

Mickael Bouget, Swiss Cycling track coach, offers his advice

First up, Mickael Bouget, Swiss Cycling track coach.

1. It is important to adapt the sessions on a home trainer according to your level.

2. Do not attempt to reproduce the full volume of training on a home trainer, as the mental load is higher for many people, favour quality over quantity.

3. Even when training on your home trainer, it is good to keep a warmup and a cool down in each the session.

4. On a home trainer, these are the areas you can focus on:

- optimisation of your pedal stroke

- improvement of your VO2max

- improvement of your anaerobic threshold

- improvement of your lactic power

- improved sprinting ability

- strength maintenance

5. For the most motivated, why not try to do twice-daily sessions once or twice a week?

6. It is also an opportunity to do some strength training (mainly core) off of the bike.

7. It is important to rehydrate well. Due to the stationary position, the loss in liquid will be higher during the home trainer session. Rehydrate with a solution containing electrolytes and carbohydrates. It is sensible to weigh oneself before and after the session to evaluate the loss of liquid.

Bouget’s recommended VO2 max building sessions:
The classic one is the 30"-30":

30" at VO2max power (i.e. maximum power that can be maintained continuously for 5') followed 30" at 50% of this power; Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps with 5' of active recovery between the sets.

Make sure you manage the intensity so that your heart rate rises gradually until it reaches at least 95% of your Maximum Heart Rate at the end.

Another VO2max session for more expert riders can consist of doing 5'–4' — 3' — 2' — 1':

Increasing your power by about 30 watts each rep and doing 5'-4'-3'-and 2' of active recovery between reps.

Try to keep your heart rate rising gradually as in the session above.

Bouget’s recommended sprint training session:
Sprint reps:

5 x 7" sprint with 23" or 53" recovery. Repeat 3 times with 5' active recovery between each set.

Strength focus:

Alternating 7" sprints focused on strength, i.e. with a high gear ratio or a high resistance (big gear) — and high RPM.

This means doing 2 sets of 4 reps : 7" strength sprint followed by 2' at low intensity and high pedalling cadence using low gear ratio and low resistance. Have 3' to 5' of active recovery between each set.

Of course, always remember to warmup for 15' and cool down for 10–15' each ride.

Aline Seitz, Swiss Cycling track rider, Madison specialist.

“I use the Tacx Galaxia Rollers for easy sessions and the Elite Direto for more specific training. When the weather is bad, I ride inside in our attic. If it’s nice and sunny outside and I have to do an ‘indoor session’ I prefer to put my rollers outside onto the terrace.

There are different ways to do an indoor session. If it’s just an easy ride I use regular rollers and pedal for about an hour. If there is a specific session to do, I start with a short warmup, then intervals, and finish with a 15-min warm down.

Sometimes I might have to do a 1- 2hrs steady endurance pace, which makes it a bit harder to motivate yourself, as you get the feeling time isn’t passing that quick.

When I’m on the trainer I prefer to listen to music or watch old races on Youtube, Eurosport or Redbull TV. I am not very good at watching movies while training — I am a I-don’t-wanna-miss-anything-in-the-movie sort of person so I always end up focusing more on watching the movie than pedaling.

Sometimes during easy rides on the rollers, I listen to podcasts or watch a documentary.

My preferred session is not too long, and there’s quite a lot of variety in it.”

Short warmup (5 mins easy, 5 mins progressive, 2 mins easy).

5 mins TT (time trial) pace, 5 mins easy.

10 mins TT pace, 5 mins easy,

15 mins TT pace, 5 mins easy,

10 mins TT pace, 5 mins easy,

5 mins TT pace.

15 mins easy pedalling to cool down.