5 Ways to Embrace the pain of a Tough Indoor Cycling Workout

I love riding my bike on my indoor trainer. Getting the leg muscles fired up and the blood flow going is what indoor cycling is all about. The only thing that beats riding indoors is the satisfying feeling afterwards which you get from knowing you have done something to benefit yourself. When it comes to an indoor ride, I am a big fan of structured training and believe cycling indoors is great for improving your power output and outdoor cycling performance. Training with a plan doesn’t just help me ride indoors better but also has a drastic effect on my riding outdoors too.

If you have ever had a specific indoor cycling workouts for your or even picked a difficult class on the Peloton or other indoor cycling applications you will know what a hard workout feels like and it is awful. You body wants you to stop, every second ticks by slowly and your just stuck in the moment. Sometimes we get through and others we unfortunately throw the towel in. In this article we’re going to tell you how to embrace the pain in your indoor workouts.

Before you Start

The first step to embracing pain is to stop as much of it as possible and not to endure more than you need to. So before you get going here’s something things you need to do to avoid any unwelcome pain.


what to eat for an indoor cycling workout

Consuming the right food before an indoor cycling sessions and having your water and snacks ready for you sitting next to the spin bike. A lot of pain can come from purely just not fuelling properly or not hydrating for when cycling indoors. If you body doesn’t have the nutrients to get through the workout it is going to cry out to you and let you know.

Correct Clothing

Men cycling clothing for Peloton bike classes

Try to wear the correct clothing. As a cycling class instructor, I have been to a lot of studio cycling spinning sessions and seen people wear completely inappropriate clothing for the environment. They will have jumper ones, sometimes no cycling shorts and the wrong shoes. The wrong clothing will cause you issues which you don’t want or need. Wear the right indoor cycling clothing and also have a sweat towel handy.

Set the bike up correctly

spin bike fit and adjustment

Aside from developing an indoor cycling workout for your needs, it’s extremely important to set you spin bike up correctly to avoid getting hurt. It’s an awful feeling on your knees when cycling indoor and being in the wrong position and it’s painful.


Peloton community

Make sure the environment is ok. The room is nice and cool, you have a fan on and ready and the fresh air circulation is good. Getting hot and raising the core temperature can stress the body and make you feel very comfortable while training indoors.

Step One: Think about why your doing it

indoor cycling help weight loss

A great tool to help you embrace the pain of a tough workout is to remember why you are doing it. You might be wanting to become better at riding outdoors beating your friends on that group ride, optimise your pedals stroke and power efficiency, or you might want to lose some weight cycling at home, whatever you reason for being on that indoor bike think about it and own it in your head.

When top athletes have mental training they are told to visualise the win and think about why they are doing it. That’s all you need to do remember what you want out of the bike and go and get it.

Step Two: Break the Workout down into sections

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As someone who personally had spent some serious hours on my turbo trainer, sometimes up to six hours at a time, I have learn’t how to stop myself getting overwhelmed by the pain cave.

The key to getting through tough workouts is to break it down into sections and take them down one by one. For example if you doing 5 minutes on 5 minuets off for an hour, how would you break it down? I would break it down into 6 pushes and just worry about them. Get the first done and you only have 5 left, 2 more 3 left and your half way through, 2 more and you on the last one.

It’s an excellent tool and can be used in so many way. If your riding outdoors on a sportive which is 100 miles you could break it down into 20 miles sections and do 5. I feel it mush easier to get through anything just by doing it in sections.

Step Three: Mentally Enjoy suffering

How to Wear Cycling Shorts

When your on the spin bike sometimes its easier not to battle the suffering but just enjoy it an embrace it for what it is. It’s what I would call a serious attitude change and can be the difference between carry on and stopping.

All you have to do is when it getting a little much just think to yourself I want to be on this exercise bike, keep repeating it again and again and eventually your mind will just have to agree. Many special forces troops are given this advice when they are in pain that they need to enjoy it and fight back against their own mind.

Step Four: Drop the Clock

Aero Grip Spin Bike Handlebar

If you suffering a little bit too much and feel like your going to need to stop because you have to long left then cover your clock. Many a sessions I taught indoor cycling to my client I wouldn’t let them see the clock.The reason I find this works is that if you don’t know how long you have left or how big the task is two things happen.

The first thing is you tend to put more focus on just getting on with it. The second thing that happens is you start to overthink it and then you become distracted by it. One thing you have to stop yourself doing is jumping back to look at the clock.Only rarely might you want to take a peak.

Step Five: It could be worse

indoor cycling vs outdoor cycling

Some very good advice I give to a lot of people who want to get through a tough workout is the phrase it could be worse. Say you churning away at the pedals and you really feel like you’re suffering just think, it could be worse I could be at my max effort. In applications and virtual worlds such as Zwift, you could be on a hill struggling but it could be worse you could be going up a mountain. You may suffer indoor training on your smart trainer or spin bike but you are not outside in bad weather.

Always take all the positives you can from the situation it will make it much easier to get through it. You want to cap the negative energy and get more energy towards your positives, especially because there are many reasons why indoor cycling is better than outdoor cycling. It will be difficult to maintain balance between the two but you will get better and better at it.


Embracing pain is difficult and indoor training where you will feel very uncomfortable is a difficult thing to do, but with practice you will get better and better at it.

One thing to mention before you finished reading this to sometimes there are times where you need to stop. Understand if the pain is too much and you might cause yourself some damage just get off the bike and stop. You’re body is an amazing machine but you do need to respect it when it gets too much for it.


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at yourexercisebike.com (YEB). I am a former indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer with nearly 20 years of experience. With a passion for indoor cycling, I have spent years designing cycling parts, repairing, and importing exercise bikes. All the articles, tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on YourExerciseBike.com (YEB) reflect my personal opinion and expertise in the field. I'm excited to share my knowledge with fellow exercise bike enthusiasts and help people find reliable indoor cycling information and the best exercise bike for their needs. If you have any questions or suggestion, you can contact me at sayed@yourexercisebike.com.

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