If you’ve been put off indoor cycling by the idea of churning out miles in a cold draughty garage while staring at a wall, maybe it’s time for a rethink.
Indoor cycling can be daunting at first but its many benefits make for a highly efficient addition to most fitness regimes, whether you’re just getting started or you want to train like the pros.
Learning anything new as an adult takes a bit of time and effort. So coming at it with an open mind and asking yourself a few questions before you decide how to cycle indoors will put you in a much better position to get going. Finding the best workouts for you, comparing set ups like Zwift v Rouvy and seeking out targeted advice like indoor cycling tips for women can also boost beginner confidence.
5 benefits of cycling indoors
Here are 5 big benefits of indoor bike training, with advice from indoor cycling aficionados:
Efficiency and convenience
But that needn’t mean boring. Busy lives mean big gains in terms of time and cardiovascular fitness when your set up is right at home. Whether you’re looking to mimic the vibe of your regular gym spin class or the weather is grim, an indoor set up will minimise prep time sorting out a bike or route- and maximise workout time.
You’ll also see big improvements in a relatively short time compared with riding outside.
“Indoor cycling’s a sure fire way to boost endorphins-and fitness- fast. Jumping into a 30 minute spin session’s an achievable way to ensure your aerobic capacities and physiological needs are met; something I encourage all my clients to hit at home or in the gym. In under 4 weeks of consistent training you’ll not only feel the benefits, you’ll see them too.”
Matt Goodall, Owner @ F45 Training Harrogate
If you’re used to the community vibe of the gym this can be quite hard to get your head around. Yes, some of the instructors on some of platforms aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but the gamification of various apps has brought indoor training to life.
If you enjoy the camaraderie of the gym or popping to a local café post-workout there are some fantastic online communities on some of the indoor training apps. It’s just a matter of finding them (link to xx of the best indoor groups/ communities)
Many platforms offer guided workouts according to how much time you’ve got to spare. You simply turn up and are guided through step by step. Don’t be surprised if you quickly get the bug and push yourself to start racing.
“I started riding indoors on Zwift, in 2020. My husband’s a keen cyclist so bought an indoor trainer during lockdown, so I jumped on and have loved it since. I signed up to a group with over 16000 members all over the world. At first it as sociable rides in large groups then that quickly progressed to racing. Since I started I’ve met so many likeminded new friends and last year 13 of our racing group met in Scotland for the Loch Ness Etape, with riders travelling from Norway and Texas!“
Elaine Hardiment, Zwift convert
Beat the weather and boost your brain
It’s easy to plateau in the gym or lose your mojo to cycle outside as the seasons change. Indoor cycling offers a new challenge in relative comfort, not to mention the safety benefits of swerving darker evenings, bad weather and the traffic, potholes and red lights of the real world.
Getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new is a cornerstone to ageing well and a change in your fitness routine could be as good as a rest for your brain as much as your body.
“ What really sold it to us as a couple looking for an indoor bike set up was the range of home workouts. I especially like the bike bootcamps plus I use the app functionality for tracking my own activities. As well as instructor-led classes the challenges and scenic routes keep it interesting. I still train at the gym as I enjoy the team element and for that extra push and guidance when it comes to weights.“
Ginny Nicholls, Peloton disciple
Ride hassle-free and focus on technique
Indoor cycling removes everyday outdoor interruptions, leaving you free to focus solely on your workout.
Indoors you can focus better on technique such as pedal stroke in a controlled environment. You can set specific training goals, monitor and control your power, adjust the resistance to make the most of your session without having to worry about distractions.
Combine this with the technology inside many training apps, smart trainers and bikes means you can expect as close to a lab experience as possible at home.
Enjoy flexibility and realism
The combination of feeling more like you’re on the outdoor bike and being able to hop on, any time is a big draw. This is a far cry from a decade ago when loud, wheel-based trainers in the garage were the preserve of the gnarly MAML.
One of the many joys of outdoor cycling is the freedom to escape and explore and on some platforms you can ride routes across the globe, with all abilities, at your own pace, in places you’d never get to see in real life.
The options can seem endless and each platform has its own tribe of followers. Some of the major players in the cycling-specific virtual world include Wahoo X, Zwift and Rouvy, with the biggest distinction being the environment you ride in. We put some of the biggies to the test Zwift v Rouvy but in a nutshell:
- Zwift: big on numbers, big on social. Avatar-led virtual reality bike-gaming. The birthplace of virtual racing and belove by pros
- Wahoo X: Rising major contender. Boosted by takeovers including Sufferfest and Road Grand Tours. Pioneering virtual gravel rides, in-game chat and integration with outdoor bike systems
- Rouvy: Real time play time. Based on real world locations over virtual world riding. With a filmic vibe you can ride, race or workout in 3 million miles of global routes.
Whether you’re a gym junkie, outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking a new challenge, the indoor bike workout brings the outside in, boosts your fitness momentum and allows you to escape into a new adventure.
Everyone can reap rewards from indoor cycling whether you’re a gym junkie, outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking a fresh fitness challenge.
Taking the time to learn how to cycle indoors and about popular apps like Zwift certainly help bring some of the best bits of outdoor cycling inside.
From there you can fast-track your fitness, take expert inspiration on the best Zwift routes and workouts and cycle with confidence into this new world of weatherproof, realistic riding.