How to Train for Your First Indoor Cycling Race
When it comes to indoor cycling, it’s not easy, and although cycling has fantastic benefits, you have to work so hard to make it count. Then we speak about indoor cycling races, and these are next-level difficult. If you want to compete, you not only have to workout hard and get what you need for racing indoor, but you also need to exercise smart.
Signing up and going into an online race, we all have the goal of being near the front and even winning, so how do we go about this? Well, you’re going to need an indoor cycling training plan to make sure that you can be the best you can be on the day. In this article, we will teach you the basics of how to design a plan and get ready for your first indoor cycling race.
Before we start, it’s vital to discuss the most important things that will give your training the best shot it has at making you fitter and racing the best you can. We can train as much as we want, but it might not have any benefit if we don’t follow these rules.
It’s vital that you are doing consistent training throughout your training plan. Indoor training is fantastic, but the way to really let it set into the body effectively is to be doing the right amount of training volume at the right times to create the correct training stimulus.
I feel when your race indoors, you will get the best data and the best chance of winning using a smart trainer. Smart turbo trainers have much more accuracy than homemade trainers because they have a power meter inside them. You also find it will hugely benefit your training with the auto resistance and make your life much easier. If you want to find out more and try one, I recommend going to your local bike shop or asking someone in your local cycling club.
Use a Riser Block
If you’re using a turbo trainer, then there’s a strong chance you might not have a riser block. A riser block is what sits on the front wheels and raises the front of the bike up to level for the turbo trainer. If you’re not using one, you might find that you have gotten used to the lean forward it creates but using a block will make it so much more comfortable, and it will help you stay on the turn so much longer. It’s Plus, it’s one of the things that reduce numbness in hands when indoor cycling.
The Training Environment
You will get free cycling performance from racing in the right environment. Having a good place to race where it’s nice and cool and good ventilation is essential to performing the best you can.
A Training Plan
What you need to start training for your first indoor cycling race is a training plan. Training plans are put in place to give the body the proper structured training to benefit from training indoors. A good plan will give your body enough training stress to grow and also enough rest and recovery to heal from it.
Not all training sessions are the same, and a plan for getting ready to race indoors should have high-intensity workouts, endurance workouts, and recovery rides. Planning a training session beforehand helps you stay motivated and stops all the guesswork. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a plan to suit everyone and their lifestyle. I will run through all the things to think about while planning your training and give you an example at the end of a training plan.
When should I train my bike indoor?
Ok, so let’s start with when we should use our indoor cycling bike to train. In my opinion, you need to make a list of times when you are free to do indoor cycling in the week and write it down like so:
- Monday 2h
- Tuesday 1h
- Wednesday –
- Thursday 2h
- Friday 1h
- Saturday 4h
- Sunday –
Now we know we have the time to train, it’s easy to start making a training structure. Here I have a generous 10 hours to indoor cycling training a week. You might only have 4 hours, but whatever your free time, you can make it work. We also have to allow time for rest.
What Training Sessions should I be doing on my indoor bike?
There are many types of cycling workout sessions, and in modern day times, coaches trying to get clients and people that have been training for a long time try and complicate it, but these are the spinning bike sessions I would focus on for the best results.
Indoor Cycling High-Intensity Sessions
These are your intervals and high power sessions. Typically they will last less than an hour, and you are going to want to go into these sessions giving everything you have got. An excellent example of intervals is that you could do 5 minutes as hard as possible and 5 minutes rest and repeat this 5 times. Or you could do 30 minutes giving everything you have. You need to be above 85% of your max heart rate in these sessions to build our anaerobic fitness system.
Indoor Cycling Endurance Sessions
Endurance sessions are lighter but longer than high-intensity sessions. You will typically be doing these sessions for 1h all the way through to 6h depending on what you’re training for. You need to be roughly about 65% to 75% of your max heart rate for the best benefit to your aerobic fitness systems. These are where most endurance athletes spend their time.
Indoor Cycling Recovery rides
An indoor recovery ride each week can be pretty valuable if you have the time. It keeps the body moving and also gets fresh blood around. The tricky thing about recovery rides is keeping the pace down and just learning to relax on the bike.
How many indoor cycling sessions and when?
Now you will need to look at your cycling training schedule and start slotting times in. Before we start, we must run through a few things about when we need to put sessions in for them to have the best benefit. These are my planning rules. You might find you want to adjust these.
Indoor Cycling High-Intensity sessions should be done after a rest day or a recovery day and shouldn’t be followed the next day by long endurance sessions.
Cycling Long Endurance workouts are best done when well-rested and not after High-Intensity days. Short endurance sessions can be anytime, even after High-Intensity Session days.
When preparing for your first century indoor cycling ride or for a race, we must have rest days for the body to recover, and recovery sessions are not vital to be in a plan. So using this information and the schedule I have up above,
I will plan my cycling structure like this;
- Monday – 2h Endurance
- Tuesday – 1h Endurance
- Wednesday – Rest day
- Thursday – 1h High Intensity
- Friday – Recovery Ride
- Saturday – 4h Endurance
- Sunday – Rest Day
Or I could even plan it like this;
- Monday – 1h High Intensity
- Tuesday – 1h Endurance Session
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – 1h High Intensity
- Friday – Rest
- Saturday – 4h Endurance
- Sunday – Rest
You can plan your indoor cycling sessions as you like, and just because you have the time doesn’t mean that you need to train every day you have spare. Getting enough rest is vital to making an intense plan work.
What if I only have a few hours spare each week?
It can be challenging if you only have a few hours spare but just make sure you get an endurance session, a high-intensity session, and scrap the recovery rides if you have to. Even two indoor bike sessions a week would be valuable but being on the bike 4-5 times a week is where you will find your most effective training load.
Building up and Tapering Down
Before you start training though, it’s vital to not go in too strong straight away. If you regularly cycle a few times a week, it’s easy enough just to start training, and your body will be fine with the load. If you don’t, you will need to build the training in over a couple of weeks to make sure your body is capable of doing it correctly.
Tapering down is also something we much think about. If you have a significant race you have been training for a long time, it is worth having a light week before to give your body the best recovery it can get before hitting that start line.
Can I Race Consistently?
So just say you want to race every week and it to be a regular thing, are you able to do this? Yes, of course, you are just swapping the race out for a high-intensity session, and it will give you similar effects to what the training would have done. I wouldn’t recommend racing more than twice a week though, as it is a lot of load on the body to be doing this. Regardless how often you decide to exercise on your indoor bike, remember that it’s important to stretch and warm up before an indoor cycling workout.
When you decide that you want to race on your indoor turbo trainers or spinning bikes, it can be a lot to take in, and knowing where to start is challenging. This guide above is a rough place to start, and if you want to get really serious, I would consider investing in a indoor cycling coach. Racing is a lot of fun though, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes indoor cycling. Try not to get too nervous and always remember you’re doing it for fun and you’re there to enjoy it. Follow my tips to avoid injury while cycling indoor so you can race efficiently.