Cycling indoors comes with numerous benefits – it is time-efficient, convenient, does not depend on weather conditions, and helps you avoid cleaning your bike. It also allows you to do targeted workouts to improve your cardiovascular fitness, biking speed, and stamina.
However, to enjoy all these benefits, you need to understand how to use a bike trainer. This detailed guide will show you everything you need to consider to get started with indoor cycling. If you haven’t used a bike trainer before, stick with us to learn how to use turbo trainer.
Tips on How to Use A Bike Trainer
1. Find an Ideal Training Space
Your training space can make or break your experience on the bike trainer. You will need space – ideally inside your house or at least sheltered – that you can set up your bike and trainer, plus a small table or shelf at the front.
Any space can be ideal. However, if your goal is to keep the trainer set up to make hopping on for quick sessions efficient, you will need a space that doesn’t interfere with your day to day activities.
A wipe-clean floor is more ideal compared to a carpeted area. If only a carpeted area is available, protect it by putting down a mat.
If you intend to use rollers instead of a turbo trainer, set it up near a surface you can hold on to. This is extremely important for people who are learning how to use a bike trainer for the first time.
Budget bike trainers do make noise. Hence, if you live in a shared house, keep the trainer away from the quieter spaces or find a soundproofed room to set it up.
2. Select an Ideal Trainer
Much like when selecting a mountain bike, there are things that you need to consider when purchasing your bike trainer. Below, we will look at the main types of bike trainers:
Being the most common, most people want to know how to use turbo trainer. Turbo trainers work with a bike. On the cheap end, the mountain bike or budget road bike fits onto the trainer with a skewer through the bike’s rear axle and the rear bike wheel rests against a cylinder. The cylinder starts spinning once you start pedaling.
This type of trainer can wear down a grippy racing bike tire. For this reason, use it with harder compound winter tires.
Towards the mid-range, you will find direct-drive turbo trainers. These feature a cassette attached to their internal housing so you remove the rear wheel and hook the chain to the cassette with a skewer through the bike’s rear dropouts and the turbo trainer.
These eliminate the need to change the rear tire to avoid wear. They may, however, involve extra work since you will have to remove the rear wheel every time you need to use the trainer and then re-install it once you are done.
If you are not on a budget, you can invest in smart turbo trainers. These high-end trainers can automatically decrease or increase the resistance to simulate riding uphill and to give you a hard and more immersive workout.
The bike is only held upright by the momentum coming from pedaling. This means that rollers give a more natural-feeling ride. While this is great for improving balance and core strength, it can be tricky to get started with.
3. Invest in Indoor Training Accessories
If you are new to how to use turbo trainer, you may not know that indoor cycling is tough too – you are likely to sweat buckets and get thirsty. Invest in a water bottle or two and keep these within easy reach.
Since there is no wind to cool you down – as it would when cycling outdoors – invest in a fan. A fan will help the body utilize its natural mechanisms to cool down, keeping you from overheating.
You can purchase mats to place under your bike trainer. A mat keeps your set up stable, keeping it from moving about. It also protects the floor and reduces vibrations and noise. Keep a towel on your bike’s handlebars to catch any drips and wipe the hard-earned sweat.
If you intend to follow an online workout or use a cycling app, you will need a laptop or a screen set up in front of you. Hence, you may need a mount or a table.
If you enjoy music while training, you may need some speakers. Alternatively, you can invest in some high-quality headphones.
Be sure to get the right training clothes. The best bike trainer wear should be light and should have the ability to wick sweat. If the clothes absorb sweat, you will be uncomfortable. If the clothes are too heavy, you will end up overheating too quickly.
4. Find an Ideal Workout
While you can always hop on your trainer and pedal while listening to music or watching your favorite show, your training will be more targeted and efficient if you follow a program. When learning how to use a bike trainer, you may not know where to get a good program. However, a simple search online should provide plenty of options that you can use.
You can use guided programs or online videos that take you through various workouts. These should provide you with good ideas for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and fat burning exercises.
5. Do a Fitness Test
A baseline test is very useful for people who use bike trainers. It establishes both your power and heart rate zones so that you know what heart rate you need to aim for when training.
It is also an ideal way to check how your fitness is progressing. With something to check your improvement against, you should be able to update your training accordingly to get the most out of the training sessions.
6. Decide When to Train
When learning how to use turbo trainer you may not know the best time to train. The training time will, however, depend on what fits in with your preferences and lifestyle.
Some people find working out in the morning more ideal while others prefer using the bike trainer in the evening. If you have other commitments – say, work, classes, or hobbies – you may have to fit in a session whenever possible.
A good baseline to aim for is 3 thirty- to forty-minute sessions a week. You can, however, add some longer rides outside your workdays.
If you are getting started with the bike trainer, pace yourself. You do not want to go all out and tire yourself quickly. It is more ideal to start at a more sustainable level and then keep it going. Up the training frequency or duration when you feel your body can handle more.
Q: Is A Trainer Bad for Your Bike?
Low-end turbo trainers can be bad for the bike. On these types of trainers, the tire rests on a cylinder that starts spinning once you start pedaling. If your bike has a grippy racing tire, the trainer can wear it out. An ideal way to avoid this problem is to purchase a trainer-specific tire and popping it on the bike whenever you need to use the trainer.
Q: How Long Should I Ride My Bike Trainer?
The baseline to aim for is three 30- to 40-minute focused sessions every week. On the days that you aren’t too busy, you can always focus on some longer rides. When getting started, be sure to pace yourself – start with shorter times and then add the duration once you are sure your body can handle it.
Q: Can You Change Gears on A Bike Trainer?
Yes, shifting gears on a bike trainer is possible. Even the most basic bike trainer can be adjusted to change the resistance by shifting the gears – this might all that you need. More advanced trainers are even computerized so that you can simulate an actual race and race conditions.
Q: Do Bike Trainers Ruin Tires?
Not all bike trainers ruin tires. However, some may lead to quicker wear of the tires. For example, low-end turbo trainers speed up the rate at which grippy racing tires wear down. This problem can be fixed by popping on a trainer-specific tire before pedaling the bike on your trainer.
Globo Surf Overview
While outdoor cycling is great, it is not always possible. For example, heavy rains, darkness, or extremely cold weather can make exploring your favorite bikepacking trails impossible.
A bike trainer is the most ideal alternative to outdoor cycling. However, if you do not know how to use a bike trainer, indoor cycling might seem too complicated. Our guide on how to use turbo trainer shows you how to set up your bike trainer and how to get maximum benefits.