This age old debate needs to be looked at simply, you need to ask yourself a few questions before dismissing the turbo trainer:
- Do you have perfect weather
- Do you have lots of time
- Do you have a perfect mix of terrain
- Do you like riding in the wet and mud
- Do you love washing your bike
- Are you wanting to race well
So you have answered the questions above, and I am sure there will be a mix of answer from you all, some of you will hate the wet, have little time to train and so a turbo could be the answer for you. Those mud lovers die hard riders may laugh in the face of the turbo.
Well the turbo is a valid piece of kit to have in your training room/man cave if you are either of the above, I have seen turbo sessions brake world champs in MTB so they have an important part to play.
Why? specific, targeted training in a controlled environment. To brake that down if you have a coach or go online you will find turbo sessions designed to cover all types of racing, from Grand Tour Riding to XC races.
If you ask anyone wo uses a turbo they will tell you its hard work, there is no free wheeling, no down hills its all about pedalling and working consistently through the session, we remove outside influence of weather, technical riding, balance, coordination and we focus in on muscular and cardio workout. So be it 30 mins or 90 mins we get a hard specific training session with no rest up from pedal action. Now add in no mud, fewer clothes needed over winter months.
Now a lot of anti turbo users will quote the boredom factor, now this really is not an excuse, with modern tech you can watch a movie, listen to music, follow a sufferfest or even race on zwift, do work emails if you can focus? Or if you really want a tough time just ride and focus on the session and lock your mind away using psychology, this is a really important skill for you, training the mind. Hardern that mind up get through the desire to slow down the pedalling or to stop and keep it going. We get times in races when we need the mental strength so train it.
Another angle is you can get on and off and mix in core work and leg strength, not so easy to jump off you MTB and start sit ups or squats (you may get some weird looks) something simple like 10 mins intervals 5 mins core repeated three times can give you great gains for strength.
Personally my longest turbo’s have been 5.5hrs! training for Ironman South Africa in 2010 (race in April) used it as a winter focus race, 5 plus hours in TT position on turbo keeping a constant pace was great prep while we went through the UKs winter months. Ok a bit extreme but it does come down to your goals. Using the turbo gives us a chance to get some quality training.
The last few winters in the UK have been pretty good and so we have been able to get out more, which is what we all love, no one is trying to say don’t ride outdoors but maybe look at adding a few specific turbos in to help with strength training or specific intervals.
Give it a try and watch the results.
If you are looking for some example sessions to do on the turbo trainer then we can highly recommend Suffervest videos, they take the thinking out of a session and provide stimulus, a personal favorite is revolver, at 45mins long it fits in well with last weeks limited time to train as well as being pretty nails!
If you want any advice on how much time you need on your own bike outdoors vs being indoors on the turbo please drop us an email.