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Improve Your Turbo Trainer Workout - Endurance, Speed And Performance Testing

Updated on August 25, 2020
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

On The Bike Ready For A Performance Enhancing Workout

Get on your turbo trainer to improve your endurance cycling performance.
Get on your turbo trainer to improve your endurance cycling performance. | Source

Improving Your Turbo Trainer Workouts

In Part 1 we looked at the environmental aspects you could adapt to improve your enjoyment and motivation in turbo trainer sessions. Part 2 will focus more on the training sessions themselves and how to structure them to impove your workouts.

I will break them down into categories for you to focus on.

  • Endurance
  • Speed
  • Performance testing using a Turbo Trainer

I recommend that you wear a heart rate monitor for turbo training workouts and learn to keep some control over your heart rate. To a beginner this takes time to adapt to.

(1) Always wear a heart rate monitor

Many people cannot afford or justify the purchase of a power meter so for now I'll keep workouts relatively simple.

Please ensure you are in good health before exercising. These ideas below are suggestions at ways to improve your workout. If you feel uncomfortable or out of control at any time ease off from the activity and if required gradually slow to a stop.

Turbo trainer workouts for endurance

Road racing, Time Trials and Cyclo Cross races are primarily endurance related. Success is often based on the ability to continue working despite tiredness setting in. Therefore it is a key ability for all to focus upon

(1) In the middle of winter it is acceptable to do long turbo trainer workouts of 90 minute or more on your turbo trainer. To break up a long ride like this use your gears and any resistance on your cycle trainer to simulate rolling hills. The benefit to such long sessions is that your legs do not get a break from pedalling in a similar way to you would on the roads. Therefore a 90 minute turbo session can be the equivalent to a 2 hour road session.

(2) You can use your indoor cycle trainer to assist recovery after hard training sessions and races. This quickens up recovery by speeding up the removal of waste products from your muscles. It is also a great warm up for a stretching session

How to ride on rollers- and NOT to ride on rollers

Indoor cycling workouts for speed

Speed is easy to confuse with speed endurance. Speed is the ability to turn the pedals as a high cadence smoothly and efficiently. Speed workouts help mobility on the bike.

(1) Buy a set of indoor training rollers. These are an extremely good training tool to develop leg speed and handling abilities as you are riding on a rolling road so balance is developped. The Youtube video to the right shows how rollers work and also the downsides if you get things wrong. Youtube has a huge number of videos of people falling off their rollers. They are a great training tool although you must take care.

(2) Spin ups. Over the course of a minute at low resistance gradually build up pedal cadence to maximum without bouncing. Use a cadence function on a cycle computer to monitor your progress.

(3) Concentrate on turning the pedals with one leg while the other is still clipped into your pedals. These are single leg efforts. A good way to develop technique is toConcentrate separately on four areas of the pedal stroke based on a clock

Use the clockface to concentrate on your pedal technique.
Use the clockface to concentrate on your pedal technique.

Around the Clockface

Concentrate on the below sections

11-2 pushing over the weak spot

2-5 push downwards through the pedals

5-8 Scraping mud from the sole of your shoe

8-11 the pull back up to finish the pedal stroke.

Concentrate on each section of the pedal stroke for at least 15 seconds per leg.

(4) Put all the muscle focus work that you have done together and feel how much smoother your pedal stroke feels. I am sure you will feel the difference.

(5) When you feel confident, unclip one foot from the pedals and perform the above exercises with a single leg.

(6) Controlled sprint efforts, In a moderate gear perform 15 second sprint efforts to develop your sprinting form while maintaining a high cadence. To begin with stand out of the saddle for around 10 seconds to build leg speed and then sit for 15 seconds. These can be integrated into other turbo training sessions as a 5 minute sextension to the session or form the basis of a speed specific indoor cycle training session.

Extensions to this are (7) 15 second standing controlled sprints and (8) 15 seconds seated controlled sprints.

Click for More about speed training for cyclists

Cycle Computers with Cadence for your Performance Testing

Performance Testing Using a Turbo Trainer

You can test how well you are cycling using an indoor cycle trainer. To do this I would recommend a rear wheel mounting cycle computer like the one to the right. This allows you to view the number of kilometres in each training session and monitor progress.

How to check your training is working- use your specific race bike (Road/ TT Bike) for training sessions

Test Time Trials on your specific race bike to ensure you're working your muscles in the same way as in competition
Test Time Trials on your specific race bike to ensure you're working your muscles in the same way as in competition | Source

How to check your training is really working.

(1) Perform tests on your specific race bike. If you're a Triathlete use the equipment you would race on- including your Tri Bars. Road Racers should use their race bike with training wheels. This will allow the body to adapt to the position of your specific race bike.

(2) Aerobic Time Trial Test. After a good warm up ride for 8 kilometres/ 5 miles at 80% of your max heart rate and record the time it takes you. If you do this test once a month you can record your results and keep a log of your fitness.

(3) Practice Time Trial. After a good warm up ride 8 kilometres/ 5 miles as quickly as possible and record your time. Look to improve your time as muscular endurance and speed endurance improve.

(4) Practice Time Trials of various different lengths. If you have a stage race with a short Time Trial use this distance as your test to get your body conditioned to the effort required over a shorter space of time.

And the main thing- Enjoy your training

If you enjoy your training and find something that you like doing you're more likely to do it and also to do it well. Find training sessions that you feel work well for you both physically and psychologically to remain consistent with your training schedule.

Here's to enduring and benefiting from your Endurance, Speed Training And Performance Testing.


What Do You Think- Please Leave Your Comments

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    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      9 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Get yourself off to the tour de france if you feel you can outpace the turbo trainer. Out of curiosity what brand/ model have you purchased and have you connected the rear wheel to the rear resistance unit? The tyre should sit on the roller and put a squeeze on the tyre (similar to the pressure you have when your tyre is on the road)- If you simply sit the rear wheel atop the roller it will slip and slide and provide no resistance.

      If this hasn't worked send me a message email via my profile.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sorry Guys to start off with a problem,but Iv`e just purchased a turbo trainer (with magnetism).Set it up ok,had the rear tyre replaced to a road race type as the cycle is a hybrid.The main problem I have is that when I pedal like mad I feel the cycle/trainer can't keep up with my legs.I can easily outpedal the machine and feel like I can't get purchase on the pedals.I can't replicate that burning of the thighs as I pedal-it seems just to easy,no resistance if you like ???.Believe me Iam no Iron man but I honestly expected more resistance from the machine.Where am I going wrong ??? Any help most welcome,thanks in antisipation.


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