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3 Top Trainer workouts to get you through the winter

Many people find it difficult to stay consistent in the winter months when it comes to riding the indoor trainer. This can be partially because the trainer can be incredibly boring, and partially because it just seems so hard. Here, I will give you my top 3 workouts to use on the trainer that are under an hour, engaging, challenging, and fun.


Trainer Tips

I have a thorough post on how you can maximize your time spent on the trainer, but here are just a few of my tips to help get you through some of these workouts and make them more enjoyable.


Keep it short


the trainer can be a more efficient use of your time since there is absolutely no coasting, without a second wasted. Because of this, it is recommended to make your trainer rides a little bit shorter than you might do outdoors. Additionally, since the trainer can be pretty mentally draining, I suggest keeping the rides on the shorter end to keep you from losing focus, quitting, and never wanting to get back on again.


All of the workouts you will find here will be under an hour to fit your busy schedule and not overdo it.


Make it engaging


Riding at a constant intensity for long periods can get boring outside when you have all kinds of another mental stimuli, it is especially boring on the trainer. Try to avoid constant intensity efforts for more than a few minutes at a time. By breaking up the ride into many smaller pieces, the ride will seem to go by more quickly and you will be less likely to quit. If you only have a minute or two until the next intensity change, you can pretty easily hold on until then, but if you have 20 minutes before your next rest period or any sort of change, you may find yourself getting off the bike and calling it a day much more easily.


The workouts in this article will be stochastic, meaning you will have very few periods at a constant, steady power. There will be regular changes to keep you on your toes.


Vary your cadence


One major issue with riding the indoor trainer, especially if you ride on ERG mode often, is you become very comfortable riding at a very narrow cadence range. When you go back outside and you get to a steep climb where you need to drop your cadence significantly or you are on a fast descent where you need to spin fast, you will be very inefficient and will be unable to produce the same amount of power you could otherwise. It is a good idea to force yourself to ride at higher and lower cadences than you typically do to avoid this issue. There is also some very limited data showing cadence work can help increase pedaling efficiency across the board and make you a more powerful rider.


varying your cadence can be another way to implement the 'make it engaging' tip. If you have long periods at a constant intensity, break it up by doing some of it at different cadences so you have shorter periods to focus on at a time.


The workouts provided will mostly be a pick-your-own cadence type of ride, but there will be periods where you will be required to ride at a much different cadence to help minimize these possible inefficiencies.


The Workouts


Stochastic Endurance



Time: 00:59:00

TSS: 44

IF: 0.67


Workout:

After a quick warmup, ride through your entire endurance range spending the majority of it at the lower intensities with shorter periods at the top end of the zone. You can follow the workout exactly as prescribed or you can do it more organically and increase the power whenever you feel necessary. Make sure you are continuing to drink and take in nutrition throughout and for the following hour after you complete the ride to make sure you are adequately fueled for the workouts later in the week.


Reason:

The purpose of riding at the lower end of your endurance zone is to try and target the first ventilatory threshold (the point where blood lactate begins to accumulate above baseline and breathing rate starts to increase linearly) to avoid excessive fatigue. This lower intensity is also the most effective range for creating adaptations in fat utilization, mitochondrial density, and enzyme efficiency; all of which are important for increasing your FTP, the rate you can recover from hard efforts, and saving glycogen to be used for higher intensity efforts later in the ride.


Endurance Spin-Ups



Time: 00:44:00

TSS: 37

IF: 71


Workout:

After a quick warmup, spend as much time as you can in your endurance zone throughout the entire range depending on how you feel. This should be an intensity that you can fairly comfortably breathe through your nose and hold a conversation normally. After the primary endurance block, perform 3 sets of spin-ups starting at a relatively low cadence with the sole goal of spinning your legs as quickly as possible. These are not sprints, they should be fairly easy but focus on moving your legs as fast as possible while keeping your body as still as possible.


Reason:

There is some limited data suggesting high-cadence pedaling drills could develop neurological connections to the muscles and widen the range of efficient cadences at your disposal.


Variable Threshold With Surges



Time: 00:55:00

TSS: 68

IF: 86


Workout:

After warming up as you would for a race, perform 2x10 minute efforts starting with a hard 60-second surge to spike your heart rate and lactate, followed by 60 seconds above your ftp then by 30 seconds at the low end of your threshold zone. For recovery, keep the power up in your endurance zone and refrain from soft pedaling or coasting. As you progress through a training cycle, the progression could either be to add duration to each effort or make the recovery between efforts shorter.


Reason:

Over-under efforts are great at accumulating lactate and then forcing your body to clear it. The adaptations that are responsible for increasing lactate clearance rate are also responsible for increasing your FTP and time to exhaustion at your threshold. By increasing your lactate clearance rate, you will be able to recover from hard efforts more quickly and more thoroughly.


Download the Workouts

If you want to implement these workouts into your indoor training regimen, you can download my free Zwift training plan if you sign up for my newsletter! Learn how these workouts and more are used over the course of a training plan and get faster doing it.





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