Indoor Cycling Pathway - Fast Talk Laboratories

Rethinking the Science of Trainers

Today’s smart trainers and online tools allow us to “game-ify” the experience of cycling training indoors and they are making many re-consider how they feel about riding indoors. We're looking at the training benefits, differences of experience on the trainer versus on the road, inertia generated by the trainer, and its impact on our biomechanics.

Fast Talk Podcast Q&A indoor cycling

In episode 60 we’re discussing trainers… hey, for those out there who hate them, we get it, but stay tuned, as we’ll tell you why you shouldn’t completely ignore them. For those who love them, we’re going to tell you why riding outside every once in a while is a really good thing. For those in between, today’s episode will offer a wealth of knowledge on how to get the very most out of trainer time.

Now, one thing is certain: The days of staring at the basement wall while riding your clunky, loud trainer are behind us. Today’s smart trainers and online tools allow us to “game-ify” the experience and are making many re-consider how they feel about riding indoors, and importantly, the extent of the training benefits.

In this episode, we’ll talk about the science and experience of the trainer, including:

  1. How riding on a trainer differs from riding on the road, including the experience, our interaction with the bike, the different inertia generated by the trainer, and its impact on our biomechanics.
  2. What impact these differences have on our power and heart rate, and why we shouldn’t use the same numbers inside and outside.
  3. We’ll discuss situations where it’s good to use a trainer—and when it may be even better than riding on the road, such as when we’re doing neuromuscular work.
  4. Likewise, we’ll talk about situations where you might want to avoid the trainer. You might know already… a five-hour, mind-numbing ride on the trainer is a sign of incredible dedication. Don’t do it again.
  5. The game-ification of trainers by tools like Zwift, Trainer Road, and Sufferfest, and how this is changing our perspective on trainers. It can be both good and bad.
  6. When to use rollers rather than a trainer.
  7. And, finally, we’ll talk about how much time to spend on the trainer, and alternatives even when there’s snow outside.

You’re going to get a lot of different opinions in this podcast. None of us will go so far as to call the trainer Satan — though at times we’ll come close — but you will hear a few guests give convincing evidence that the trainer has benefits you can’t get on the road. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you to decide.

Our primary guest today is Ciaran O’Grady who is a new coach and sports scientist at Team Dimension Data. Ciaran is finishing up his Ph.D. at Kent University with Dr. James Hopker, who conducted some of the definitive research on the biomechanical differences between riding on a trainer and the road.

In addition, we’ll talk with:

Retired multi-time national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson. Having lived in the northeast for most of his life, Tim is very familiar with riding indoors and has a lot of good points to offer from two decades of experience.

Trevor also caught up with Jacob Fraser from Zwift and Kevin Poulton who coaches Matt Hayman and Caleb Ewan, and works with Team Katusha. Kevin used Zwift to coach Matt to his 2016 Paris-Roubaix win and since then has integrated significant trainer time into his athletes’ race preparation.

And with that, get your fan ready, dial in your Zwift avatar — make sure you enter your weight correctly in Zwift now, no cheating. Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guests
Ciaran O’Grady: Sport scientist with Team Dimension Data

Secondary Guests
Tim Johnson: Former pro cyclists and cyclocross national champion
Jacob Fraser: Marketing manager at Zwift
Kevin Poulton: Elite coach

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk the Vela news podcast and everything you need to know to write.


Chris Case  00:12

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m Chris case managing editor of Bell news, joined by the swift Holic Trevor Connor. Howdy, Trevor, thanks for making the long journey down from Canada. Today we’re talking about trainers, hate. For those of you out there who hate them, we get it. But stay tuned, as we’ll tell you why you shouldn’t completely ignore them. For those who love them, we’re going to tell you why riding outside every once in a while is a really good thing. And for those in between, today’s episode will offer a wealth of knowledge on how to get the very most out of trainer time. Now, one thing is certain the days of staring at the basement wall while writing your clunky loud trainer are behind us. Today’s smart trainers and online tools allow us to gamify the experience and are making many reconsider how they feel about riding indoors, and very importantly, the extent of the training benefits. In this episode, we’ll talk about the science and experience of the trainer, including number one, how riding on a trainer differs from riding on the road, including the experience our interaction with the bike, the different inertia generated by the trainer, and its impact on our biomechanics. What impact these differences have on power and heart rate and why we shouldn’t use the same numbers inside and outside. We’ll discuss situations where it’s good to use a trainer and when it may even be better than riding on the road, such as when we’re doing neuromuscular work. Likewise, we’ll talk about situations where you might want to avoid the trainer. You might know already a five hour mind numbing ride on the trainer is a sign of incredible dedication. Don’t do it again. The gamification of trainers by tools like zwift trainer road and suffer fest and how this is changing our perspective on trainers. It can be both good and bad. We’ll discuss when to use rollers rather than a trainer. And finally, we’ll talk about how much time to spend on the trainer and alternatives when there’s snow outside. You’re going to get a lot of different opinions in this podcast. None of us will go so far as to call the trainer Satan. Phil at times will come very close. But you will hear a few guests give convincing evidence that the trainer has benefits you can’t get on the road. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you to decide. Our permanent guest today is Karen O’Grady, who is new coach and sports scientist at team Dimension Data. Karen just finished his PhD at Kent university with Dr. James Hopkirk, who conducted some of the definitive research on the biomechanical differences between riding on a trainer and out on the road. In addition, we’ll talk with retired multi time national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson. Being from the North East Tim is very familiar with riding indoors, and it has a lot of good points to offer from two decades of experience. Trevor also caught up with Jacob Frazier from swift and Kevin poelten who coaches Matt Heyman and Caleb Ewan works with Team Katusha. Kevin Hughes swift coach Matt to his 2016 Perry, rube a win and since then has integrated significant trainer time into his athletes race preparation. And by the way, folks, please be sure to rate us and give us some feedback on iTunes. It helps other listeners out there, find Fast Talk and a gain from our experience on the show. With that, get your fan ready. Dial in your avatar, so they’re called Trevor avatars.



Oh god.


Chris Case  03:44

Make sure you enter your weight correctly on zwift. Now no cheating out there. Let’s make you fast.


Chris Case  03:55

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Chris Case  04:33

I don’t have too many horror stories about writing the trainers because I’ve probably written a trainer um, a dozen times in my life. I’m super spoiled. I live in Boulder. But Trevor having lived in Toronto for a long time has to deal with weather has to deal with urban streets has to deal with a lot of things and I know he’s dying to tell us all a horror story about his time on trainer. Weather


Trevor Connor  05:00

The question is which horse story do I do? I tell and Chris, you did an hour on the trainer last night, right? Yeah, it’ll do that. I,


Chris Case  05:08

I tried to do an hour. I can’t say I made it to an hour.


Trevor Connor  05:12

Okay, well, I haven’t seen the workout yet. So we’ll talk about that later. I guess my biggest horror story is I worked many, many years ago with a coach who was huge on the trainer, because he was pure physiologist. And when you’re out on the road, it’s too variable. He doesn’t get good data. So he really wanted to have me on the trainer, and I was living in upstate New York, where it’s cold and snowy in the winter. So he had me doing upwards of 15 hours a week on the trainer, and I’ll tell you doing an hour kills me. And I remember at one point that winter got warm enough to go outside. So I took advantage of it. I was out on my bike. It was about an hour in and we just got this mix of snow and rain and it was cold and it was miserable. It’s one of those epic days that you tell your friends about that you survived. And at one point, I hit this intersection where I could go right? Think it was go right and I was 20 minutes from home or I could go left go over a bunch of climbs. And it was another hour and a half to get home.


Chris Case  06:16

I think I know where this is going.


Trevor Connor  06:18

Yeah, I went left. Yep. That is how much I despised the trainer, how much I was willing to suffer anything outside. And I did what the coach wanted me to do. I spent my 12 to 15 hours a week on the trainer and that season I was burnt out by April. So that is kind of the the horror story side of the trainer. Probably another good story we can share the urban legend I don’t know if that’s true or not. But Eddie Merckx used to sit on a trainer in his basement for six hours at a time staring at a brick wall to make himself mentally tough. And I would not recommend that to anybody.


Chris Case  07:00

It takes a strong brain to sit through that some people would melt others might be strengthened by such a thing. I am in the former category.


Trevor Connor  07:10

Yeah, well the story goes that a bunch of coaches heard about this and they put all their juniors on trainers staring at brick walls and ended a whole bunch of juniors careers so but with with that as a probably not a ringing endorsement of trainers, let’s let’s jump into this.


Chris Case  07:29

Well, there are certain applications I think where a trainer is appropriate, going to give you a very effective workout. But I think where we should start is how to understand why a trainer is a bit different than riding on the road or a lot different in some cases and in certain aspects of riding. So maybe we can bring in Kieran here and he can kick it off.



Yeah, so we’re sort of the traditional turbo trainers there’s there are stark differences between sort of riding indoors riding and outdoors. But as as the technology is progressing that that gap is slowly becoming a lot smaller. So I think probably the easiest one to start start off with is out outdoors actually going somewhere you’re you’re traveling distances, you’re you’re doing things you’re your body is moving their side side motion, and you can get out saddle quite easily quite comfortably. Whereas on the indoor trainer, that’s that’s just all static, your body is stationary, you don’t, you don’t really move very much. So you can you can really get into some problems, especially if you’re not hundred percent debt with a bike setup that fits you perfectly and optimally, you can develop sort of overuse injuries, sort of uncomfortable pains and sores, which no one ever likes. You know, the other the other things didn’t which is changing as the technology is changing is sort of the way that the toe trainer works. So a lot of the the the old wheelbase systems are becoming slowly more obsolete, there’s a couple of manufacturers, they’re still still producing at top qualities, but there’s more and more going to sort of the direct drive setup. And that’s it’s better, it’s better on equipment. Arguably it’s better for for training purposes, you don’t have that, that changing that that chance of slippage in the back wheel, everything’s a bit more instant. And then the flywheel mechanics are slowly changing as well getting different flywheels different resistances looking at one this morning that that actually used us magnets against your rim. So obviously, that doesn’t work with carbon rims, but


Trevor Connor  09:34

it can be quite could be quite interesting to work with aluminium or steel rims. And so as the Canadian here Sorry, I’m gonna make fun of you really quickly. Karen is British. So for those of you who are wondering, a turbo trainer is what Europeans call a trainer, or North American is just the trainer. So but I actually love that term and yes, in Canada and Britain we call elementium I’ve actually just got



a correction from Britain. I’ve got a British accent but my I’m of Irish nationality. Really? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So my parents Irish got Irish passports, but I was educated in the UK. So I’m Irish through and through, but the only thing that comes out of me that’s British is the accent.


Trevor Connor  10:21

Fantastic. Okay. So let’s talk quickly about that. The one thing that I didn’t really understand until I did some research A while ago, for an article, the whole concept of inertial load that when you are on the road versus on a trainer, you’re fighting very different resistance, which can impact how the bike functions and ultimately can impact your biomechanics. Is that correct?



Yeah, definitely, there’s, there’s a lot of different things going on, when you’re riding on telestrator versus rollers versus on the road. They’re just that that initial load, and it changes on the different types of tether changes that you’d get. Some of them are a little bit closer. And it depends on what what sort of efforts you want to do whether you want to do sort of low force, you know, high cadence type type work or high force, low cadence, so that that’s something that you need to take into account, the International lights and the mechanics of the flywheel, that sort of thing.


Trevor Connor  11:16

Right. So the inertia when you’re out in the road is generated by the weight of your body and the circumference of the wheel correct, where when you’re on the trainer, it’s just the flywheel which is much smaller, so you have much less inertia. And just for our listeners, what we mean when there’s less inertia is when you’re out on the road, because of the way to your body, you stop pedaling, you’re going to continue to roll for a while or if you’re on a trainer and you stop pedaling, it comes to a halt pretty quick.



Yeah, yeah, exactly. And looking at the increasing size of the flywheels, I think that’s something that a lot of manufacturers are slowly copying onto and trying to trying to lessen, lessen the gap between the inertial load indoor versus versus outdoor. And so the direct drive train trainers, is that one of the benefits of them? Or do you still have that small flywheel? So


Trevor Connor  12:10

you have less inertia?



Yeah, the direct drive trainers are a lot better in terms of that, that a lot of them, especially the top end models, I think there’s the tax Neo has, has a little motor in it that simulates downhill. So when you you know when, when there is that inertia on the road, it sort of helps you a little bit to maintain that. So that is something that they’re slowly bringing in. And it’s going to be very interesting to see where this is, this is going because you know the applicability for this for training is important. If you want to train indoors for outdoor performance, I think it’s going to be an important thing to consider.


Trevor Connor  12:47

So there’s difference in inertia that ultimately impacts your your biomechanics and your efficiency on the on the trainer, correct?



Yeah, correct. Different pedal stroke techniques and muscle recruitment on outdoors versus turbo trainer and the different inertia that’s going to change which muscles you’re using, when you’re when you’re riding outdoors as there’s generally a lot more of a balanced muscle recruitment. So you can have more recruitment from the gastroc. So your calf muscle, biceps for Morris hamstrings, gluteus Max, so you know, you’ve got muscles, so whereas the turbo trainers is more quad based you find because because there is that lack of inertia, there’s not that sort of continuation of the pedal stroke. So it’s a lot more push based. So you can have more sort of vastus lateralis rectus, Morris and development so that the top muscles of your of your thigh are going to be really driving the pedals round. A lot of research was done on this back in 2012 with ice my PhD supervisor and his research students, Mark rasca Stein. But despite despite the different ways that the models have been recruited, and the difference in that pedaling technique, there was very little difference on whole body efficiency, particularly so how that changed during during the training session. So you know, you are getting different ways of using your muscles and different adaptations there over a long period of time. But on a whole body. There’s there’s not so much difference, but you will get differences in in sort of pedaling technique development over time.


Trevor Connor  14:17

So this was Dr. Hopkirk. Remember, one of the things that he found in his study was that you actually, there’s less drop in power at the dead centers of the pedal stroke. So that’s coming over the top and pulling through the bottom.



Yes, yeah. Yeah, correct. That sort of ties in massively with the, with the inertial loads, if you can, if you’re not have that power drop, you get a bit more of a consistent power output and that’s, that’s where you’ll find the the outdoor riding has more more of a greater range of the muscle recruitment throughout the pedal stroke. And so with that dead center, it’s, as I said, with the with the turbo trainer, with the low low inertia, you just mainly use your quads pushing up and down. Whereas when you’re out Well, in this case, it was on a bike on a treadmill, so is replicating outdoor riding indoors in a controlled manner. But that was more more of the whole leg and sort of musculature involved in that was being recruited all the way around the pedal stripe.


Chris Case  15:19

So with all of these differences between riding on the road and riding on the trainer, or the turbo trainer, what does that lead to in terms of power numbers? Are we seeing higher numbers on a trainer or lower numbers on a trainer relative to what you’d see out on the road? And, and why?



I think there is a massive difference between what the writer can push out outdoors versus indoors. And for multiple different reasons. There’s the actual physiology of it, as we mentioned, with the muscle recruitment earlier, the but just the facts, there’s different attentional focuses, there’s, you’re actually doing something outdoors, there is a lot more sort of mental performance improvement when you are writing outdoors. And that all comes into perspective, when you look at doing testing outdoors versus indoors, dp test indoors, and then an FTP test outdoors, most people get haiwan. outdoors, if they can find a nice 20 minutes or sort of one hour track that they can use and then do it indoors. So it’s almost worth having an outdoor zone and then an indoor, you know, indoor training zones so that you can really train effectively in both.


Trevor Connor  16:25

Yeah, that’s really important. I mean, in that study by bertucci. And there’s actually another one which I mentioned, again, we’ll put all these references up on the website. This was led by a doctor, I’m gonna butcher this boy load. This was a study done in 2017, they looked at doing a vo to max estimate on the trainer versus on the flats versus on climbing and found that there was between the flats and the trainer and a 20 minute test, you could have a 20 to 30 minute walk difference in between climbing and the trainer, it could be 40 to 50 watts. And that’s important because you’re planning on doing interval work on the trainer. If you go and do a 20 minute test to determine or estimate your FTP on a climb, and use that number then get on the trainer, you’re gonna kill yourself with any interval work.



Yeah, definitely. And the same similar sort of results we’ll find by morass in 2014 with the like a 40 kilometer time trial, they found that power output and heart rate, so both both performance and physiological response was higher. So when you are training indoors, then you’ve got to take that into account. And for the same physiological costs. So the same heart rate same blood lactate and power, you you generally see a lot higher RP so perception of efforts is increased. And if you do turbo trainer, turbo trailer turbo trainer all the time, you’ll probably find that there will become a point where you when you do get burnt out.


Trevor Connor  17:54

So they actually in that 2017 study, they talked about effective load which was this is very subjective, but effective load is basically the the the mental stress of the the effort, they took RP and subtracted a metric of pleasure to come up with the effective load. But what was interesting is they found effective load on the trainer. and higher is worse was about 170% higher on the trainer than out on the road. So it, it’s mentally draining on you.


Chris Case  18:33

So if you had if you had an RP of 10. And the pleasure rating you gave it was negative 75. That’s where I would be all the time.



That’s a very high effective load.



Definitely not pleasurable.


Chris Case  18:53

Yeah, no, and I think some people can tolerate it more than others. And maybe we’ll get there but there are certain certain ways you can make it more pleasure a little but again, so spoiled in a way that I get to ride in a beautiful place most of the time and getting on the trainer is just a lot of work just just just to throw the leg over the over the saddle.


Trevor Connor  19:16

And I will tell you I was quite surprised when I moved to Toronto and started coaching athletes up there and I was even in April and May when the weather was nice starting to tell my athletes get off the trainer and go outside. And we’ll talk about this a little bit later. But there are things like swift or suffer fast that make it a little more enjoyable that these athletes don’t want to get off the train. The other interesting thing of that 2017 study was that they found the so they did four minute TTS to estimate vo two Max and showed that the four minute test on the trainer was a much better estimate of what was determined in the lab. So there is some evidence that if you Want to get true or numbers? Do your testing on the trainer?


Chris Case  20:04

I would like to go back and just confirm some things. Maybe Maybe you guys said this, and maybe this is redundant. But are you saying that in a same length effort, verse road versus on the trainer, you would actually see higher numbers outside or higher numbers on the trainer in terms of power output and heart rate?



higher numbers outdoors. Yeah. And yeah, so you get you get a high, high performance outdoors. I would say that we arguable based on course, and what sort of terrain you’re riding on, but yeah, usually it’ll be out higher outdoors. And you know, there’s there’s higher heart rate higher as a result, higher blood lactate, co2, everything like that. But the perception, the physiological, you know that the psychological cost would be a lot, lot greater indoors, right, and lower power output and performance.


Trevor Connor  20:56

Now, heart rate will actually be a little bit higher on the trainer, because you’re stationary, unless you have one heck of a fan. Your body is doing a little extra duty to keep you cool.



Yeah, yeah, correct. So there is there is some research, I’ve got the author who did who did some work looking at the the temperature gradients, so cotton versus skin temp, and then outdoor temp, and looking at the way that you do pull yourself outdoors versus indoors. And yeah, that is that is the case that the harder it is there is stress and less variability. So when you are training outdoors, you could be training in different environments day by day, whereas indoor, usually that’s going to be very consistent. I would


Chris Case  21:35

imagine because of that, that’s greater stress on the system and the psychological component that makes it a little bit more difficult to go three hours on a trainer that that’s why time just seems to slow down when we’re on the trainer.



Yeah, definitely there’s, there’s a lot less of the chance that you’d use what’s called dissociative thoughts. So you think when you’re when you’re riding indoors, you’re thinking a lot more about you actually riding and the pain the you know, the effort everything going on, whereas when you’re outdoors, there’s a lot more use of riders by using dissociative thoughts. So thinking about things other than what you’re doing. So that usually results in lower possession of effort greater time to exhaustion. So if you’re doing time, you know time to exhaustion efforts at a set power output, you will go for for a lot longer outdoors because of that, you know, dissociative and lowering of the RP. So I can’t resist this,


Trevor Connor  22:34

I have to go for the worst pun on Fast Talk of 2018 I would say time gets stationary on the track.



That’s how I feel.


Trevor Connor  22:45

Okay, so should we will discuss that we want to cut that later.


Chris Case  22:52

All right. So sometimes we like to pick on riding on the trainers, but there are some application certain applications that the trainers are great for. And there are some applications where trainers just it really is something you want to get outside for. So let’s let’s parse that and figure out which is the good side and which is the bad side of trainer use.



The real benefit from that I see from Turbo trading is that you know you can do for usual riders, you can do a lot more specific, or a structured workout versus a sport people can do outdoors. I mean, I don’t know what the terrain and sort of riding style is, like around you. But I’m living in London, and it takes you an hour to get anywhere, there’s any sort of roads where you can do a proper effort on so a lot of people struggle doing specific training sessions outdoors. So most of the people that I coach, the amateur athletes will be doing their their specific work indoors and then using the outdoor training to be more of a general general endurance training and, and any sort of efforts that we can fit into that is a lot more unstructured. So there isn’t a chance to to really target things the way you would do indoors. But I think they are very valuable as a tool and they should be treated as such. So, you know, use them when where you do need them, but know that there are pitfalls to using them. Because you know that as we discussed, there are differences in the physiology and the performance that comes from training indoors using a tablet trainer or rollers or whatnot.


Trevor Connor  24:27

Yeah, I think that’s a really important point to emphasize about allowing you to do a good structured workout. I remember the first year I was coaching in Toronto, one of those athletes who I chastised a bit for still being on the trainer and in April and May. I gave him the five minute intervals. And his first question to me is, okay, you want me outside? Where can I do these? And then I looked at a map of Toronto and had to reply. I can’t find anywhere. There wasn’t really any Anywhere in Toronto, where you could do a steady five minute effort without hitting a traffic light or a stop sign, it was impossible to get outside and do these longer efforts with any sort of quality. So in some ways that necessitated having to use a trainer.



Yeah, yeah, you’ve either got to do that or make some compromises in the training that you are doing out outdoors, you then have to sort of if they, if they really don’t want to use the turbo trainer, or con or for whatever reason, you might need to say, okay, instead of a five minute you’ve got a, you’ve got a three and a half minute hill here, or you know, section of road, that’s going to be, you know, maybe a little bit a little bit harder to do the set intensity, but the same duration. So you may have to find yourself making compromises in the in the training, training prescription that you think


Trevor Connor  25:52

I would say the other obvious benefit of the trainer is whether if it is pouring rain and cold, or there’s a foot of snow on the ground. And you living in Britain, where you get a ton of rain myself living in Toronto, where winters pretty snowy, if you don’t use a trainer, it’s really hard to get any sort of solid training in those winter months.



Yeah, and add in, you know, light lights, availability, especially if you are a full time working athlete. So you’ve got a job and family to take care of as well. There’s, you’re looking to train in the mornings, or in the evenings after work and it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s miserable. doing that with lights on outdoors, I’d say there’s there’s probably more risk than reward there. So if you can jump on the turbo trainer and do do your training session, get the good quality session done. And then then go Go and do your work and then come home. I think that’s a hell of a lot better than than risking outdoors.


Chris Case  26:53

And I think all of that makes sense. You know, if there’s bad weather, lack of light or urban living compromises, your ability to get outside the trainer is a great tool. I think, though, that it’s worth emphasizing the danger that if there’s a stretch of bad weather that lasts for weeks, or it’s the winter, and you’re just not going to get outside when it’s daylight hours. So you’re resigned yourself to riding the trainer every day. We all know that riding the trainer for workouts is great. But riding them for long hours is not as great. And then maybe the temptation becomes to make every ride a little harder than you want it to be or every ride is becomes a workout and then you risk burning out really quickly because of that.


Trevor Connor  27:41

And so Sarah, and I’ll toss this to you in a second. But I think the important thing that Chris is bringing up here is one of the dangers of the trainer is the long ride, it’s important to remember that three hours on the trainer is not the same as three hours outside. Outside, you have variability, you’re gonna have points where you stop pedaling, you’re hopefully a little more control more as Chris said, sometimes you have a temptation to go too hard on the trainer, and you’re pedaling the entire time. Yeah,



definitely there’s there’s there’s no letter, there’s no traffic lights, there’s, there’s there’s nothing that takes that physiological stress off just for a moment and allow that to recharge. So unless you’re doing sets, intervals with set recovery, factored in there when we do have the chance and then maybe jump off and go for a walk around, refill your bottles and actually do something different. The only other way of really getting a long ride replicated indoors is probably to do split sessions. So maybe 111 hour in the morning, one hour in the evening. And and sort of instead of trying to get that stimulus in one bolus in one sort of single session, then then trying to split it up into into two smaller ones. And yes, you’re not going to get the same training stimulus but you’re still going to be sort of fairly similar in terms of the the overall training load.


Trevor Connor  28:59

Right. And actually, a really good alternative to this that Dr. Pruitt gave us a few years ago this is what he did because he loves to ski and he has a place up in Winter Park is he would go out and do a couple hours of skate skiing or cross country skiing. immediately come home and then hop on the trainer and just do 45 minutes and he and he called it kind of hitting the hitting the muscle memory so as get the endurance work on the skis but just get that little bit of trainer time to keep the body remembering the pedaling motion. And that gives you a good solid three hour workout where you’re not going insane for those entire three hours on the trainer.



Yeah, I agree with that. It’s it’s a good method and it’s something if you commute to work on your bike as well which I’ve got I’ve got guys that I coach that commute 30 minutes into into London and then 30 minutes back and then as soon as they’re home there, they just take off their their winter kit and put on a pair of shorts and do half an hour 45 minutes to an hour indoors. So there’s still to the effective training session time can be upwards of an hour and a half. So you can still get that that endurance, longer ride, but not not at the same sort of perceptual costs as if you were to do it just solely on the turbo trainer.


Trevor Connor  30:16

And the one thing I’ll add to that is just, if you’re going to do that, make sure you have the trainer and everything set up. So as soon as you get home, you just hop on the train or don’t spend some time with the family, watch a little TV and hop on the train or an hour later, it’s not been you’re doing two workouts.



Yeah, it doesn’t, doesn’t doesn’t count if you cook dinner in between. Now,


Trevor Connor  30:37

we talked before that the pedal stroke is a little bit different. And you had said that with the trainer, you’re actually still putting out a little more power when you come in over the top of the pedal stroke and through the bottom. So essentially, the stroke pedal stroke might be a little bit better on the trainer. So it seems like one of the places and I do have a bias for this because this is what I do with all my athletes. When you’re just doing neuromuscular work like cadence work, that’s a great thing to do on the trainer.



Yeah, it can be it can be good to do the the neuromuscular high cadence and, and low cadence as well getting a bit more of the strength work. When you do that indoors, you’ve also got the added advantage of knots, you know, less chance of being disturbed while doing it. So sometimes if you’re doing it outdoors, then you’re doing, you know, 510 minutes high cadence block, then, you know, you may you may have to lower your cadence or change your cadence unnecessarily. But if you’re doing it indoors, a really good chance to just focus on on on the cadence work you’re doing and getting that neuromuscular adaptation.


Trevor Connor  31:35

You know, that’s, that’s such a good point. Because when I give athletes or when I’m doing this myself, I say do a minute at 130 rpm. It’s amazing how little a change in the gradient of the road is needed to drop you from 130 to 110. We’re on the trainer, you don’t have to deal with that.



Yeah, yeah. Or you stick to the you stick to the same cadence. But you know, if you don’t pay attention to what gearing you’re in yet, it completely changing the intensity band that you’re in, and probably getting different physiological consequences, then you’re actually looking to get you know, alongside the new muscular.


Trevor Connor  32:09

The only thing I’m going to add to that is if you have this available, if you’re going to do neuromuscular work, do some high cadence work, it’s better on rollers than on a trainer because a trainer you’re locked in, so you don’t have the balance component where a roll of rollers are going to be a little more like the road. And on top of working on your pedal stroke your cadence, you also have that balance component.


Trevor Connor  32:37

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So Karen, what are some other applications where trainers are good.



But one of the one of the crucial ones, in addition to to doing training sessions is to use them, use them in competition as as preparation for races, whether that’s road races or time trials. So if you’re doing for example, I’ll use time trials as an example. So it’s an individual effort, you’ve got your start time, you can then work back and plan your optimal warmup. And that’s, you know, not only just the work you do on the trainer, but it’s also all fueling everything. And you can really make sure and plan your best on an optimal warmup for yourself, because that’s going to be different rider to rider depending on what you need and what your power target will be. And then if you take that to a road race, and you know that you’ve got a road race, that’s going to be hard from the gun, or there’s a big climb to start or, or even that you want to line it up from the start that you want to go out, go out from the gun aggressive and try and get into that early breakaway or put people on the backfoot. From early on, you know, you’ll see guys warming up on the on the on the turbo trainers before before the race and that’s when that’s a red flag, you kind of know that they’re going to be a little bit more active towards the start or, or conversely, they could know that it’s going to be hard, and then want to want to kind of prepare for that and not be at a disadvantage when when the going gets tough


Chris Case  34:35

straightaway. And I would assume that part of the advantage of the trainer is that no matter where you are, what race you’re at, or what the conditions are, there’s a consistency to it. You can repeat it over and over again and avoid the challenge of finding a good place to warm up with roads and traffic.



Yeah, yeah, not not everyone has the chance to warm On a nice road where where you can do it and some courses I know some time Charles in the UK it’s really difficult as the Tanjung courses here are usually on basically motorways and you know, it’s it’s tricky to find somewhere to warm up adequately. So most people would just bring that over trainers and get that sort of structured, consistent, warm, you know, warm up procedure done every race.


Trevor Connor  35:23

So the only thing I’m going to add to that though is if you haven’t done this before, experiment with it and don’t do it at your target race. I know with myself personally, I’ve talked to a lot of other cyclists who feel the same, even though you can get a better warm up on the trainer, it makes me really flat. So unless I have absolutely no other choice, I personally prefer to warm up on the road even though it’s not going to be as consistent a warm up.



I know some guys that do the kind of first half of their warm up on the on the turbo China and do the more aerobic part of the of the warm up sort of early on and then get off, prepare for the race and then go and do openers and you know some big mac stuff out on the road where you know that you can get a feeling for the legs. You’re not just stuck on the turbo trainer for the whole time, which is probably


Trevor Connor  36:11

a great way to balance it.



Yeah, yeah. A few years ago,


Trevor Connor  36:15

I had a chance to talk with now retired multi time US National cyclocross champion Tim Johnson about the trainer, Tim had many years of living in a cold snowy place trying to figure out how to deal with the weather. He has a lot of great thoughts about the trainer.



I’m not a big fan of trainers in the wrong or at the wrong times. I feel like people warming up on trainers before cross races, even when the weather’s nice. Or even if the course is open in between races. And it just kills me every time. It’s like, the sound of a trainer for no reason is like the little angel dies instead of getting its wings. So sad. But when I do use a trainer, I actually use it quite a bit. For the last, like 15 years now almost. I have used compu trainer, I was introduced to combinator through my wife, when she is from Quebec, and he used a compu Trainer with their coach, he got ready for you know races like Redlands in the US, which used to be the first big race of the year. And she said she would come literally from Quebec, having never ridden outside just riding on the trainer, it’ll go to relevance. And she actually wanted one year. So I’ll just doing that.



She can get very, very specific with the kind of work that you do. And so I really enjoyed doing workouts, I’m a trainer, and I have done them when the weather is nice. It’s just that it’s this super high end, very difficult interval workouts that you really can’t do anywhere else. So why is that? Why is it better on a trainer? Well, you can you can repeat a very precise wattage. So for instance, some of the workouts I would do are like 45 seconds long, with a minute off, and you do it over and over and over and over again. And when you do the first couple sets, the it doesn’t hurt that bad. But by the end of it, it is just the hardest possible thing you can do. And that usually means you you hit the water starter right on. My coach that I’ve worked with for a long time was really good about giving me a workload that was just about right, taking into consideration, weather, travel, you know, other types of stuff. And a trainer kind of gives me the option of adjusting based on factors like that. So you can just drop it down 20 watts and still get a good workout. Yep, I think some of the benefits that I’ve had are through kind of the mechanical side of things. So I’ve done these workouts, which are high RPM workouts either on rollers or on a trainer, you bring your fear RPMs up really high. So maybe you start out at 100 and you get it all the way up to 130 or even 140 and, and back all the way back down to 100. But you do a minute each five or five RPM increments, you do a minute 100 and 105 minute, 110 minute, one theme, etc to get to 130 and you hold for two minutes to 130 and then you go back down again. And so you can do a workout like that. Even if your legs are tired. You don’t really use that much of your muscles but you gain the fluidity of that high RPM stuff. You also get the workout which is where you’re sweating your ass off. And especially when you’re doing that in the middle of the winter or in cross like I do you get the benefit of the workout without really taxing your body because it’s hard enough going out to race in the snow in the mud as it is. Yeah I give all my as a coach I give all my athletes to those Caden’s pyramids. I think I get about one in tend to do them. But I’m like you great workout. Oh, they’re awesome. I mean it when you’re done, do you feel like you’ve accomplished something? And that’s, you know, that’s a big part of being a successful writers is feeling good about what you’ve done? What do you think are the wrong times he was a trainer and why is that? I think it’s a waste when happens a lot I’ve seen it throughout throughout my career that I know people that that get into the sport, and they take it full gas. And they will do three, four or five hours on a trainer on some random winter or spring day. And they’re just, they’re literally emptying out any kind of motivation in huge buckets and throwing it out, throwing it out the window. So that same person in July or August or September is, you know, has basically quit the sport. And it’s like that, to me is a waste you right there to do manageable pieces of a workout or fitness. But I think anytime I’ve seen people do those kind of, I think I’d probably call them panic workouts, it’s a sign that something else isn’t going right. They’re like, their expectations are completely off. Maybe they’re trying to prove themselves to someone else or to themselves, whatever it is. But those are the kind of people you want to grab by the by the hand and kind of walk them off of a trainer and say, No, I’m sorry, but this isn’t good for you right now, you shouldn’t be doing this. So you’re not a fan of somebody in a wintery area, and they really can’t get out on the road, you’re not a big fan of doing 15 hours a week on the trainer, it sounds like you’re saying more do this specific interval type work and the trainer works great, but don’t do the big volume. Why, you know, if you don’t have a life or a family or job, and you want to, you want to just empty yourself out on your trainer, I mean, by all means go for it. But if you do have the ability to do specific work, and then have the ability to, to do other things like if it is jogging or skiing, or Nordic skiing, or hiking or or anything else that’s active, then you have any chance of having a social life, and or some kind of, I don’t know, like a reserve of your energy for later. But you can do that, in addition to the specific work on the trainer. But I think that that one dimensional part of what the trainer represents, I think is something to be avoided. And this is I mean, I’m a lifelong cyclist. And I’ve been introduced through feeding and running through my wife over the years, but it certainly hasn’t been all at once. I mean, it’s a it’s a learning process. But I think that tips and tricks from people that have been have been in this for a long time are more useful than the people who are like, Well, my, my power to weight went up point 5% because I haven’t eaten and I’ve done 15 trainer workouts this week, you know, and it’s Oh, by the way, it’s March, I think that’s a horse that you need to kind of separate from.


Trevor Connor  43:12

So you touched on warming up for a race on a trainer is does sound like you’re a big fan of that



I am when it’s necessary. For example, if the weather’s really bad, you don’t have secondary bike or, you know, equipment that you can count on. But I think that the gains made by someone who’s able to take a look at the course one more time, or maybe ride ride that difficult sections for a second time. Those are the games that are going to matter more than whether or not you’re warmed up absolutely perfectly because the differences in across race are going to be made more often than not in the corners. And so if you can see those corners and gain confidence in a corner, you’re going to be better off and an extra seven minutes at whatever particular heart rate on your trainer is.


Trevor Connor  44:05

So the last question I have for you is you mentioned the cadence pyramids. You



mentioned the short 45 second efforts are there any other good workouts that you would recommend on the trainer I can handle maybe almost three hours total on a trainer one day and that would be a morning session with an afternoon session. But one thing that I haven’t really one of the longer intervals on trainers and I don’t think I’ve ever actually done any longer than two minutes. Maybe maybe even maybe 10 at the most but that would be with a lot is going up and down the whole time changing cadence. What I found with the with the combat trainer is that and now I’ve now I started using a wahoo yet last winter after the computer finally died after thousands of hours between Linda and I you know I think that something that the trainer really Gives you as a handle on throttle control, which, as a racer, everyone talks about threshold and, and talks about your, you know, your, your best wattage, well, if you don’t know what that feels like, if you’re not exposed to that over and over again, it’s really easy to thrive, you’re harder for too easy until the trainer, what I found is when you, when you have the waters going up and down, and the cadence always changes, it really gives you a feel for what what that throttle can do. So when you are racing, I feel like he makes better choices.


Trevor Connor  45:36

The important thing to bear in mind is that Tim and I did that interview four years ago, which was before the gamification of trainers became popular. So let’s get back to our conversation about tools like zwift, trainerroad, and sufferfest.


Chris Case  45:50

So we’ve talked about the benefits, we’ve talked about some of the horror stories, we really need to talk finally about how to make all of this more enjoyable, because there’s a, in some ways, an explosion of ways to accentuate time on the trainer from swift to suffer fest to trainerroad, and things like that. So let’s dive into that a little bit more and talk about what those things are, what those applications are, and then some of the pitfalls to be avoided during those trainer sessions. guarantee want to kick it off?



Yeah, yeah, I’ll put my hands up and say that I’ve not used swift or trainerroad. Myself, a lot of the a lot of the athletes that I coach use all of them. And Swift is very attractive in terms of that it’s it’s sort of that gamification of training, and it can really engage you and help you spend the time. And it sort of progresses the time a little bit quicker. But another way is to do group training, have a friend that comes over and does a training session with you. And if they live locally, that’s obviously really easy, or I know guys that are on Skype to each other and chatting about things. And you can make those, the time goes a lot quicker on those with if you’re making a little bit more social as well.


Trevor Connor  47:04

So just to add in, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m somebody who absolutely despises trainers. And for years to actually finish an hour on the trainer was a major accomplishment. For me, I couldn’t even think about the idea of doing three hours. I once I moved to Toronto got on swift and I, I have done now a three and a half hour ride on zwift. And we’ll even say it was kind of enjoyable, I have my trainer set up in front of a very big TV screen not big at my face close enough to a TV screen that that’s most of what I see. And it is the closest thing to be on the road without actually being on the road. And it makes it a little more enjoyable. I’ve even found myself when riders are coming up close to me on the display, I find myself kind of jumping to the left or jumping to the right, because you actually feel like you’re there a bit



coming almost virtual reality.


Trevor Connor  47:59

Yeah, it’s still not being out on the road. But if you can’t get out on the road, and you want to do time on the trainer, I think this is one of the really good ways to do it. You would also mention getting together with friends I know in Toronto, and a lot of cities, they have studios that set up trainer sessions where you can show up with your bike and do a workout with a lot of other people, I’ve actually run a few, which is another great option.



Yeah, we have that here in London as well. There’s loads of places that offer it and it’s a really good way of getting that social and, and there’s also the you know, if you’re not so much of a dedicated cyclist, you find yourself my going on, you know, I’m going to try and tonight if if you’ve got a group of people that you know will be at the training session, there’s there’s almost that kind of it’s not really guilt, but it’s it’s you want to be held accountable for the training session. So you’re going to go there and do the training session put in the hard yards with your friends and and then come away from a stronger.


Trevor Connor  48:55

Yeah. Well, I was talking about this when I was trying to log into my account and so far on Swift, I have burned 273 slices of pizza. And I have done 10,289 miles and I know there are people who have absolutely crushed my stats,


Chris Case  49:15

do you think that you’ve had 273 pieces of pizza to make up for all that during your time?


Trevor Connor  49:22

Here I think I’ve done a little more than so I’m not going to talk about the particular system. But last year, I had a couple of my athletes go into one of these sessions where they did a workout that was up on the screen. And I was going to join them but had to do some some work before I joined them. So I kind of came in 30 minutes into the workout. They looked like they had a lot of pain on their face. And so I was wondering what was going on I jumped on the trainer and correctly set up my threshold. Actually all three of us do has been tested. So we know exactly what our thresholds were, I lasted 15 minutes of this workout, it was insane. And I had to go to all of them and just say, bring your threshold down 80 watts. So this workouts destroy you. And it was still hard. So sorry, that was a very long story. But let’s talk a little bit about the, is there a danger of spending too much time going too hard on the trainer?



Yeah, yeah, it’s the danger of doing things indoors, indoors indoors, talked about earlier, where, you know, not only the mental aspect of it, you’ve got the physiological aspects. So that, that burnout, that overtraining, the sort of getting used to riding indoors and indoors only. And then he you know, I know people that have done, done winters indoors, and then had some pretty shocking saddle sores as a result.


Trevor Connor  50:55

And I also know, for example, on Swift, and this makes it fun, but there’s also a danger, this, there is a train race going off almost every five minutes, at least every 15 minutes. And I have seen athletes who are doing one or two of those a day, four or five times a week, which love to hear your opinion, but as a coach that concerns me, especially when people are doing that December in January.



Yeah, it’s, it’s it is worrying, you know, looking at it and seeing how many guys are going, you know, full gas all the time. And when, when you do jump on. And, you know, I’ve had one guy that just started I think two two weeks ago using swift and he said he, he was humbled by how strong people were. And I think you’ve got to remember that you’re, you’re riding against a global audience. And, you know, there could be people there that are, you know, that’s, that’s the time that they’re peaking and, you know, then the next week you’re writing against someone else, and that’s when they’re peaking. So if constantly feels like you are a lot worse than you are, and then when you when you’re on good form, you’ve got a couple of weeks to make the most out of it and feel good on swift and then you’re back to feeling like you’re at the back of the bunch. Again, it’s it can be quite disheartening, but I think it’s got it’s still got its uses, but you’ve got you’ve got to bear that in mind.


Trevor Connor  52:11

And you also have to bear in mind on zwift it is very easy to cheat either have your trainer or your power meter over report what why did you’re putting out and there’s a lot of people who put in a weight that is much lower than their actual weight, actually found it funny. So in the spring zwift added a replica of Alp d’Huez to one of their courses. And it’s it’s a lot of fun. I’ve climbed it a bunch of times myself. But within two days of there putting that course up, I think it was 18 people had broken Marco Pantani his record time of the actual outdoors.



Yeah, that’s that, that brings it in, you know, just stark reality of, you know, anything, anything with a computer system, you can kind of, you can change it a bit. A lot of my athletes who aren’t on swift or trainerroad, or anything like that, they they just stick on a, you know, a movie that they know that they like or even ones that they don’t like and yeah, you might not pay attention to all of it, but it’s something that you can dip in and dip out of. I’ve got one one athlete who shall remain nameless that that really likes watching ROM coms. So romantic comedies and and and yeah, he just gets on what what is the whatever rubbish film you can you can put on and it’s there when he when he’s cooling down and then and recovering in between in between the hard hard stuff and it does the job.


Trevor Connor  53:35

Before I got into Swift. I put this together on a DVD and I want to figure out how to upload this to YouTube. I took all the rocky movies and made a movie mix of all the training scenes and the fighting scenes. It lasts about an hour 10 and it got me through an hour on the trainer for a long time.


Chris Case  53:57

Whatever it takes, I guess



would you wish at the same time like over and over again or change it up


Trevor Connor  54:02

and never got bored? I’m a big rocky fan. The only thing that I’m going to add to this which you alluded to is if you are spending time on the trainer, whether you’re watching a movie or doing swift this is an issue if you’re doing something like suffer fest or trainerroad but never ride steady. I have had athletes send me to our workouts that they did on the trainer and their their power looks like a flatline. Their cadence looks like a flatline they just sat at one resistance for two hours. And my response to them is always I admire you for being able to do that. But don’t ever do that again, both mentally and as you said to avoid saddle sores and other issues. vary it up, change the resistance shift gears get out of the saddle, do things to make it more like actually riding on the road.



Listen to Fast Talk if you need to.



Yeah, definitely. Well, I would add to that also, if If you do feel like you need to do those, those more endurance base still adds add the sort of undulations and intervals and changes in cadence. But that’s where, you know having if you’ve got a turbo trainer or a smart trainer or something like that, having a set of rollers, and, you know, even ones that you could put a little bit of resistance on where you can do those low intensity sessions. But you know, be able to get out the saddle and change there’s, there’s a bit of movement in the bike, that that’s a really good way of, you know, not only getting getting a little bit more enjoyment, you’ll get more bike handling skills and confidence in the bike if you learn how to use it. But it is something that does take a bit of time and effort investment into, into getting used to riding on the road.


Trevor Connor  55:42

And that is a really important point, because you do actually lose some of your bike handling skills sitting on the trainer that rollers can help you with. And I have certainly seen this up in Canada, where you have riders who spend all winter on the trainer, and then a week later jump into their first race and it can actually be a little bit dangerous. I had a guy, we had a race in late March last year, and had a guy just slam into me. And you could see his handling skills weren’t there. And my guess is he was just sitting on a trainer all winter.



Yeah, there’s, there’s no movement in the bike at all, and no need to concentrate. So you, you then start to race like that. And it’s it’s dangerous. So if you if you can get good at riding on the rotors and doing some of your sessions, the low intensity sessions on on the rollers, and then do your, your high intensities on the turbo trainers that that’s a good thing. If you are going to make all of your the majority of your writing indoor based, then that’s a good way to go.


Chris Case  56:38

Here’s a question that may lead us astray. But as a coach, would you rather see somebody spent a lot of time on a trainer in the winter? Or would you encourage them to use the opportunity to mix things up to get to the weight room a little bit more to maybe even throw in a little bit of running that sort of thing to replace some of that time that they might have on the trainer.



So yeah, mixing up in the winter, I would definitely say that I recommend and and sort of plan a lot of strength sessions, core strength sessions, and you know, even some of my guys doing, you know, more pure weightlifting being jerks, squats, that sort of thing to really develop another aspect of the physical performance that you don’t really chain on, very often on no money people do. But the cross training is definitely so you alluded to the guy who goes out cross country skiing, I think that’s brilliant. So yeah, bringing in swimming is a good one as well. Because, you know, a lot of people use it as a recap, ability to recover. So it’s non weight bearing, it’s quite relaxing. So on some of my guys rest days who I want just having a sort of active rest day, I’ll give them you know, tell them to go down to the pool, don’t give them a session, I just say get into the pool and have fun and do a couple of lengths Don’t Don’t be really go maximal all the time, just just have a have a swim that Yeah, I find that such a good thing to do throughout the winter. And the more different sports that you can do throughout the winter, if you are just looking at getting that overall performance, it’s going to help your because if you learn one thing or improve in one thing from from each of those sports, you know that that there should be some sort of a crossover that will be able to take into your competitions.


Trevor Connor  58:24

Yeah, my personal feeling is even as much as I think things like swift and suffer fest and trainer studios have made trainers much more enjoyable. I personally will never ask an athlete to do more than five, six hours a week on the trainer. And that is the upper end. I still encourage athletes to snowshoe to cross country ski to do these other sports and when the roads are dry, if it’s cold outside, invest in some good warm weather gear and still get out on the road in the winter whenever you can. You know, having gone through working with a coach who had me do 15 hours a week on the trainer. I just don’t think that’s a good idea.



Yeah, I would agree with that. And I would also say you don’t have to make it just on the roads. So cyclocross mountain bike, change it up, make it fun, get dirty and get muddy and have fun. A lot of my guys have, since I started coaching, I’ve been telling people to to buy a cyclocross bike and look at that during the winter, because it will have some massive physiological improvements over the over the winter for the for the amateur athlete, and then when you you know, you’ll you’ll take a lot of the skills that you learned from cross into into road racing,


Trevor Connor  59:37

and even Fat Tire bikes, you can ride them in the snow, there are a lot of fun, there’s a lot of places that rent them.





Trevor Connor  59:45

One of my favorite things on Fast Talk is when I have my own beliefs challenged, you’d have to reconsider my position. trainers are a clear case of this. I’ve personally gone from someone who despises them to someone who enjoys frequent winter rides but still feels that riding Outdoors is little better. Well, maybe I have to reconsider that as well. I recently spoke with Kevin Pelton, who coaches athletes like Matt Heyman and Caleb, Ewan, and works with Team Katyusha. He was there with Jacob Frazier, a brand experience Manager for zwift, who travels the world helping coaches and athletes get the most of the tool. Kevin, Coach Matt to his 2016 win at Perry rebate almost entirely on the trainer, and now believes strongly that there are benefits to the trainer, you don’t get on the road. Let’s hear what he has to say. So I am actually here right now at the USA cycling coaching summit here in Colorado Springs. And we actually just had a great presentation yesterday, all about the benefits of actually doing workouts on a trainer. And it was quite fascinating. And quite coincidental with this podcast, which we had planned ahead of time. So I’ve managed to square away a little conference room at USAC. And we’re gonna have a quick conversation. So my first question to you is being somebody who lives up in Toronto, which is a little more conducive to hockey than it is to cycling, I have really learned to appreciate the trainer. And I will as I said in the podcast, I couldn’t do an hour on the trainer, when I was watching movies or staring at walls, I’ve been able to do three plus hour rides on the web. So just obviously, there’s a bias here. But you’ve probably got involved in this because you you felt there’s a value here. So talk a little bit about this gamification of cycling on the trainer.



Yeah, I think for everybody who rides the trainer at some point or another, we hit that metaphorical wall. And it usually happens as you’re staring at your garage wall or your basement wall. And we need something to keep us interested. I’m actually born and raised in Chicago, where the weather does turn terrible six months out of the year. And while we have a strong narrative in the public about being a cold weather brand, it was actually developed in Southern California by john Mayfield, who’s from Austin, Texas. So it’s always been a warm weather product. And the reason john created it is because he had a second kid, and time management was becoming an issue. I’m sure Kevin can talk a little bit more about how much more efficient indoor riding is an outdoor riding, you have more structured efforts, you’re always pedaling the muscles under constant tension. But we tried to make it a bit of fun as well. JOHN comes from a video game background. And while we want to keep the training serious and beneficial to the rider, we also want to have a bit of fun with it. So we’re always going to route our courses. In fictitious worlds. We have some exceptions to that with the world championship courses, both in Richmond, as well as in Innsbruck. But you saw just a few weeks ago, we launched New York where one of our founders, or excuse me, one of our co founders and our CEO is from and we wanted to have a bit of fun with it. So we set it 100 years in the future, there’s a glass road above the skyscrapers and things like that. So it’s a fun fun course to ride we’re Central Park is nearly identical to the real Central Park, our art team, I think is the best in the video game business in terms of recreating or designing both real life aspects as well as gamified aspects. And we’ll always have a bit of fun with it. That’s where, for example, the power ups come in every time we cross through one of our Finnish arches or our sprint arches, you get some advantage to the game. But on the other hand, we have very real drafting algorithms. For example, when you’re behind a rider, you do get a statistical advantage in comparison to riding on your own. So we’re always going to walk the fine line between really accurate training data and going over to the game side and having a bit of fun with it. I think, like you said, it creates the ability to ride the trainer for longer, which is more beneficial. But it’s not just a really exciting video to look at. There’s interaction with it. And that’s what I find the gamification is one thing, but the constant interaction with the platform is what’s keeping me engaged when I’m on the trainer.


Trevor Connor  1:03:43

So Kevin, when you presented yesterday, I thought I was expecting you to basically say, trainers are pretty good, they’re not a replacement for being out in the road. And that’s not really what you said at all. As a matter of fact, you gave an example of an athlete winning a major race with a build up almost completely on the trainer. And you talked about actually doing blocks on the train or even if you can get outside and get to do a good workout doing blocks on the trainer because it seems to produce greater gains. So can you tell us about that? And this example I was talking about?



Yeah, absolutely. So for myself as a coach, indoor training has been around from day one. So we’ve always used it. I’ve always used it sporadically. Because until we had these modern platforms like Swift, we didn’t have the interaction, the engagement and motivation with the athletes. So to ask them to train indoors. It was it was a big, big ask and they were quite reluctant sometimes, but at the same time, we knew they were going to get a quality session it was going to be a good workout. But now with things like Swift, the athletes are motivated, it’s fine for them. They’re engaged so you can ask them to come back and do consecutive days of training indoors. And the story mentioned there. Matt Heyman 2016 he broke his arm leading into the classic season 2016 he was forced to train indoors first Three and a half weeks. So that’s how it was, I guess in some ways indoor training was forced upon me as a coach as well to tap to use it for this long period of time. And or something I hadn’t done before myself. So it was it was quite a learning learning period for me as well. But as the story goes, after Matt trained for three and a half weeks indoors, we knew he was fit going into it. And we knew as we’re going through that three and a half week period, that he was producing some good numbers and showing good fitness. But we had nothing to compare it to outdoors. So going into Pirate Bay in 2016, it was a bit of an unknown, but I remember saying to Matt, before the race started on the day, everything indicates that you’re gonna have a good ride today. So just go there and relax. And as history shows, nearly went out there. And he won the race quite convincingly from going in the early break to covering Tom Boonen in the finale and beating him in the spring. So that was the introduction to indoor training for myself. And it really piqued my interest in, we really experienced something incredible he, we knew that Matt made gains in fitness after that block of indoor training on zwift. And so since then, with Omar is our coach that will tool level, we’ve implemented lots of indoor training leading into major races. And some of the key points are that we’re doing these blocks of training right before a major race right before a grand tour, we’re finishing five days before our grand tour, or another example young guy from Australia, Rob power, he finished his indoor training block two days before strive to be Anki and ended up finishing sixth in that race. So it’s been, in some ways, it’s a fun learning curve. And but also the writers have enjoyed it, they’re doing less volume on the sugar. So as we know, when we do a taper, we’re always doing less volume. Anyway, I’m focusing on intensity. So by training indoors, for a period of between four and 10 days, the writers are getting very specific rice intensity, less volume, but they’re also getting a great workout. And they’re coming out of it with really excellent form.


Trevor Connor  1:06:51

So I guess my question for you is, what are the gains that you feel they’re getting from doing these four to 10 day blocks on the trainer that they wouldn’t get out on the road? Here? Well,



there’s actually there’s a few. And it really depends on what time of the year that you’re implementing the block of indoor training. So I’ve done training camps at altitude, where we’ve done double session days where we’ve done a morning road session on endurance and up to four hours, then we have a two to three hour break. And then we do an afternoon guy session on zwift. But one of the key gains and getting back to Matt Heyman in 2016, one of the key gains is just by training indoors, you get that increased core body temperature, that’s where we’re getting a massive increase in blood plasma, which equals an increase in co2 or oxygen to the muscles. And that’s why the guys say more efficient, the same water efficient that they’re preserving all the glycogen for the finale. And again, the best example is Matt Heyman, where after being an early break, he was accidentally running away from his breakaway companions, because he was just on a different level aerobically. So that was a really good point. And then in the finale, he was able to attack, counter attack, and produce a very good spirit because he preserved glycogen all day. And that was one of the biggest outcomes of training indoors for three weeks.


Trevor Connor  1:08:05

So I also saw you were showing one of the team training camps where he had some of the athletes during that traditional camp out in the road, but a few of them were actually sitting there on the deck of the house, you rented. We’re doing today trainer workouts to show just how much you believe in this. But one thing I found interesting is I’m personally a big believer in if you’re going to do five hours in a day, do it in one big block. I’m a believer in the long ride. But I noticed when you have athletes doing these trainer workouts, you’re doing two a days, what do you feel are the benefits to two days versus doing all in one shot? Oh,



Massey, this, this is one I really like to talk about now. Because, you know, I’ve used to make the statement that you’re a believer in long days. That’s what we’ve always done in the past, you know, up until just recent years. But now what we’re finding is that you can throw more stimulus at the body, you can throw more adaptation in the body by breaking it down into two sessions a day. Whether you’re at altitude or not, we know that when you do a long endurance ride, sure you’re going to deplete carbs, you’re going to fatigue muscles, and you gain insurance that way. But we’re gaining more endurance by riding indoors with an increased blood plasma, you’re not going to get that by riding outdoors for six hours. And I can’t mention it, it was a great opportunity to have basically two sides of the coin where we had we’ll try this as a pro Tour de France camp, went to California first for a tour of California. So we’re at Lake Tahoe. And we had one side of the group was the GC guy me is and his teammates. And on the other side, we had Matt Haman and kelbyone that were doing the two day session style of training. And the outcome of that was we were doing again like the longest morning insurance right is four hours maximum. But then we were doing that in recover last date, so no carbs and the second half of the ride. And then we’d have two or three hour break and then we get the other guys out. The boys would do a session on on the Swift. It wasn’t high intensity and that’s the key point there. It doesn’t have to be high intensity day in and day out. Just being on there. Riding at a moderate pace, building up a sweat is enough to force adaptation. Anyway, so the guys who are doing the depleted sessions to play the carbs on the sugar, we’re also doing gym sessions at the same time. And then what really hammered home the key point to me was at the end of that Can’t we did a long seven hour ride in the mountains, lots of climbing. And this was the longest ride that Matt and Caleb had done on this camp. And we were six hours into the ride. And he’s Adam Yates at the front pushing a nice tempo ride on his wheel with Matt and Kyler. And the rest of the guys were right at the back. And for me, that really sums up the advantages and what we gained by doing that sort of sort of training style.


Trevor Connor  1:10:38

And as I can for any of our listeners who are wondering what we’re talking about, about training depleted state, I can’t remember the number but about 1520 episodes ago, we had dr. john Holly who did a lot of that research on the episode and talked all about glycogen depleted training, and what seems to be showing some real benefits. So I guess the one question I do have for you, because I have seen this up in Toronto, where snow melts and middle of March are first races at the end of March. So we have a lot of people getting off the trainer and riding on the road for the first time, just a couple days before the first race. And it does seem there that can be dangerous, because some people are really lacking in the bike handling and the pack skills. Is that something you’ve seen or something that is a concern? And what would you suggest for that?



Yeah, it’s something we talked about even as Lyft headquarters all of the time, you know, I think with the number of pros we now have on the platform, and a handful of them like Matt Heyman came in response to injury. But once they see the training benefit, they stay on now obviously Matt Heyman has a career of bike handling skills. So for him to be on the Ergo for a month or so and come off his bike handling skills, we’re still there with him. But for a lot of the let’s call them age groupers or cat five racers here in the States, if you will, they essentially develop a rocket ship engine. And I’ve never driven a rocket ship before. So we always encourage athletes to to keep riding outdoors, we’re never going to take the place of of outdoor riding that’s not a goal at Swift is to get everybody on urgos all of the time. Unfortunately, in the Northern Hemisphere and the northern half of the Northern Hemisphere when you’re snowed in for the wintertime, there’s no way to really do that. I think if you have a local track that you can get to that’s always a great way to keep your pack skills finely tuned.



And like it’s just for me to the key point is like Jackie said, then what we’re doing that well to a level with training. Now, the indoor training complements the outdoor work, you can’t just win a bike race with indoor training. But it certainly is. Now we’re talking about one percenters in in training and what we’re going to gain for me indoor training as a five percenter, you do all the hard work first to block of indoor work and get a beginner there right before a race. And we’re using it now for grant or preparation classiques season long preparation and certainly working. Yeah. Yeah, look, I can definitely say from a coaching perspective, indoor training is here. And it’s here to stay. And and coaches need to embrace technology and work out how to use it for themselves. sooner they end, we will learn how to use it appropriately and the benefits from it, I would recommend just experimenting with it first with your athletes start with doing some single day sessions on the yoga and then do two sessions in a day or then do two or three days in a row and just see what the results are. Because as coaches, one of our biggest jobs is to monitor the response to training. So rather than just giving someone a program to go and do indoors, wanted to what the response is, what are the changes to the athlete and put that in place in the future with the athlete from there.


Trevor Connor  1:13:28

Let’s get back to the show. Karen,


Chris Case  1:13:30

I’m gonna throw this one over to you. For those people out there that may have to travel a lot for business and end up using the hotel gym t to get their workout in. Do you have any recommendations for them?



Yeah, yeah. Do some research before you before you travel. I have one athlete who for a long time has been traveling all around the world is going to different different hotels. And he he bought a second he has a set of power pedals on his bikes at home. But he has a travel set of power tap pedals that he takes with him and basically just finds a gym where he can find a bike he doesn’t it doesn’t really have to be a walk bike or stages bike, it just has to be a bike where you can set up into his his own position and remove the pedals and he puts on his power pedals follows the session that I’ve planned for him and and he’s happy as Larry. So the way that you can be sure that you can get a training session anywhere in the world, just do a little bit of research find somewhere that’s going to have bikes that you can change the pedals on maybe a little bit of a courtesy email to the to the hotel staff and just say can you get in contact with your with your gym and see whether I can do this. And if you’re going back to the same locations you’ll find you’ll find your favorite you’ll know the gym that you want to go to but it’s it’s something that you know wherever you are in the world that you can get a session done if you’ve got if you’ve got the equipment. If you don’t You know, this guy was obviously very lucky. And he could take a spare set of power tap pedals around with him. But if you don’t have that, then you know that there is a little bit of a disadvantage, you’re going to have to rely a lot more on the the, in the equipment, if it’s a bike that can read power, that’s good, but then you’ve got the issue of isn’t going to be the same as your will, you know, the power that you’ve set your zones to. So you might have to go more on sort of heart rates and perception of efforts, which, which is good, but it’s not really gonna be the same if you’re looking at getting those structured workouts in. So, you know, there’s upsides and downsides, but there’s ways of getting around that.


Trevor Connor  1:15:36

So the other thing I’m going to quickly add to this because I do have a few athletes who travel a lot is if you are going to do a hard workout on a gym bike, or when you’re out on the road, avoid doing long threshold type efforts, like don’t do a 20 minute threshold on on a gym bike, because you’re never going to replicate the position of your actual bike. When you do those long efforts in a position that your body’s not used to you start running the risk of injury, as strange as this might sound. If I’m going to give an athlete a workout when they’re out in the road, I prefer them to do something short and usually give them sprint efforts, because then you get out of the saddle and you are eliminating one of the contact points that can be in the wrong position.



Yeah, Yeah, I would agree with that. And say that, when you are riding on a bike that’s not familiar with yourself, you do run the risk of of developing those, those overuse injuries that are just just that can occur. So quick, you know, the term over use, but if it’s, if it’s an hour session in the wrong position, it that’s certainly going to have an effect. Yeah.


Chris Case  1:16:40

So Kiran, let’s put you on the clock, you got one minute, and tell us your top tip or top trick to getting the most benefit out of trainer time.



Make it fun, make it different. There’s a lot of lot of ways that you can sort of mix it up, whether that’s group riding gamification with swift or trainerroad, or any of the new apps that are coming out, it is a tool. So use it as such, take it to races, experiment with your warm ups do do onroad do do your warm ups on the turbo trainer. But be careful with it. It can come around to bite you in the ass if you solely train on the turbo trainer, and then go Coen race. And you know, we alluded to the the bike handling issues, but it can be a very valuable tool. So learn it, love it, but don’t rely on it. And don’t don’t just do it all the time. Trevor, what


Chris Case  1:17:35

do you think?


Trevor Connor  1:17:36

I think that was one of the best summaries I’ve heard. So I’m not sure I have too much to add. Really my point which is very similar is I see a lot of people who want to show their dedication, want to want to have that great bass season, and spend those hours on the trainer spend all that time doing races on zwift. And my experience is you are not rewarded for that. So keep it in moderation, keep it in balance 1520 hours a week on the trainer is probably not a good idea. And as you said, it’s a great place to do structured work, but still remember that there is a balance. You know, we’re big believers here in the polarized training model, you still want to do most of your time, low intensity. And if you’re spending a lot of time on the trainer that still applies.


Chris Case  1:18:28

Yeah, I think both of you guys nailed it. I have a natural inclination to use the trainer very sparingly, and I know that my circumstances are a bit different than everybody else’s, but I would, I would still try to emphasize to use it sparingly use it, and by doing so you’ll use it most effectively. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. While you’re there. Check out our sister podcast the velonews podcast which covers news about the week in cycling, become a fan of Fast Talk on slash velonews and on slash velonews. Fast talk is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual