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Indoor Cycling and On Road Performance

  • Training and Fitness
Indoor Cycling and On Road Performance

Indoor and Outdoor cycling are two very different experiences, each with their own benefits. While training for an outdoor ride or race, training outdoors in a real world environment is the most ideal. However, indoor cycling is a great way to supplement your training. Read on for how indoor cycling can have an effect on your on-road performance.


When you train indoors the lack of traffic and other on-road obstacles are minimized, hence making it a great setting for High Intensity Interval Training where you can concentrate 100% on maintaining the correct power output, cadence or heart rate during the intervals. Interval training helps increase threshold power, a.k.a lactic threshold. A higher lactic threshold is directly related to increased performance while on the road.

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Indoor workouts are a great place for things such as pedaling drills, one-leg drills, high cadence, low cadence, and other such training drills that can prove risky while riding outside. One of the best drills is the one-leg drill, where you really focus on pedaling smooth circles. To maximize the benefits of this drill, pedal using one leg for one to three minutes, then switch legs. If this is your first time practicing a one-leg drill, you will realize how uneven your stroke is and how weak that hamstring is when pulling up on the pedal. Most cyclists tend to just push down. Practicing such drills can help strengthen your up-stroke, thereby improving your performance while on the road.


High cadence is another great drill to do while training indoors. For example, do five minutes at 120 rpm. You likely have a cadence sweet spot of around 85 or 90 rpm, and while riding outdoors, you may not stray much from it. Drills such as this force you out of that comfort zone and can improve the overall smoothness of your pedal stroke.

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VO2 Max is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense exercise or maximum exertion. Training indoors can help improve your VO2 max which in turn will aid in maintaining sustained performance for even longer while on the road.


Indoor training involves using the same muscles as your would outside however the lack of obstacles allows you to really focus on your body while you pedal, thereby allowing you to use your core while engaging the hamstrings, glutes and the entire posterior chain of the leg on the up-stroke. This focused work can greatly strengthen your muscles, thereby improving your overall performance while on the road.

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For most cyclists, training outdoors is the best option - having to train indoors only when push comes to shove (bad weather, busy routine etc). However, supplementing your outdoor training with indoor training, even a session or two a week, can have a great effect on your overall performance. Try mixing it up and see if you find a difference in your performance. Happy riding!


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