Indoor Cycling Programs for a Fit New Year
Now more than ever our fitness has moved into our homes. With the weather shifting, more people than ever are turning to indoor trainers to keep their fitness level high throughout the winter months. And for good reason! Today’s indoor cycling experience is interactive, immersive, and honestly enjoyable. Like outdoor riding, it can also serve specific goals such as building a base, losing weight, winning a race, or just having a good time on two wheels. If you're looking to up your fitness in the New Year, an indoor cycling program could be just the ticket to help you not only reach, but crush your fitness goals. Read on about some of the most popular trainer apps available.
Best for: Riders who want to bring all the fun of cycling inside
How it works: Pure joy for you is rolling from the coffee shop with 15 of your friends, chasing each other up hills, sprinting for town signs, and chitchatting while you spin down new roads. Watopia and the seven actual and fantastical courses on Zwift are the perfect places for you. You create a personalized avatar, input your height and weight, and zip down the road at speeds based on the power you’re putting out for your weight.
There are tons of options for cycling fun: join group rides, line up for a race, meet up with a friend and just ride, or do some of the pre-programmed Zwift workouts. You can also take an in-app FTP test and follow one of their training plans to get ready for a century or other goal. But the real gold is in the game: earning new wheels, unlocking new courses, “chatting” with fellow riders via the app. It’s all the trappings and socially competitive stuff you love about outdoor cycling, indoors.
Details: $14.99/month; available for iOS, Apple TV, Android, Mac, and Windows/PC; requires a smart trainer for the best experience, but non-smart trainers and rollers are compatible with the use of an ANT+ or bluetooth speed sensor or a power meter.
Best for: Riders who want progressive, structured training—no games necessary
How it works: You don’t really care about dazzling animation, virtual hangouts, or earning trophies or other pixelated bits of bling. You have concrete IRL cycling goals and want a progressive, structured training plan to crush them. TrainerRoad is your jam. The whole system is geared around your FTP, which you establish via an in-app baseline test. Then choose from one of more than a hundred training plans (or 1,000+ workouts) to prepare for whatever races or events you have on the calendar. The professionally-created plans are periodized to take you from building base to honing your performance needs to reach your specific goal. The guided workouts include motivational text from on-screen coaching instruction. But the on-screen entertainment is on you—the app lets you watch whatever you want while the workout streams on the bottom of the screen.
Details: $19.95/month or $189/year, available for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC; requires a power meter and smart trainer to have automatic resistance control. VirtualPower requires only a speed sensor.
Wahoo System (Formerly Sufferfest)
Best for: entertaining sessions with very well tailored training zones, a complete training plan with strength and yoga
How it works: The Sufferfest was iconic for fun but very hard training sessions. Under the new owners, Wahoo, The Sufferfest further developed its content to include training sessions suited to recovery sessions, coached and guided sessions with specific training goals, and even 'on location' sessions where you'll explore the culture and heritage surrounding famed climbs while also following a stuctured workout. There's also yoga and strength training available.
Power numbers can be based on a percentage of your FTP, or you can use Sufferfest's own '4 Dimensional Power' (4DP) test. With the new app, you can adjust the 'levels' for each of the 4DP elements to suit your goal. The 4DP test, called 'Full Frontal', assesses your Neuromuscular Power, Anaerobic Capacity, Maximal Aerobic Power and Functional Threshold Power performance over five second, five minute and 20 minute efforts as well and your ability to recover after them, tested via a one minute interval after fatigue. This test can help you find targeted training to improve your cycling.
Details: $14.99/month or $149/year, available for iOS, Mac, and Windows; requires an indoor or smart trainer.
Wahoo Road Grand Tours
Best for: realistic virtual world riding.
How it works: Road Grand Tours is the best app for riders looking for somewhere realistic to ride, without having to leave their own homes. This app was clearly developed by experienced gamers. RGT allows riders to choose iconic routes from anywhere in the world (and was recently acquired by Wahoo).
Road Grand Tours is an excellent alternative to Strava, offering perhaps a greater attention to detail in regards to ride experience realism. RGT claims that rider movement, drafting, braking and resistance is more realistically replicated on the smart trainer/ indoor bike. The graphics are incredible, making the experience totally immersive.
Details: There is a free version with limited access; the premium membership is $9.99/month, available for iOS, Mac, and Windows. Due to the significant amount of functionality, there is a requirement to run the up-to-date processing systems. While all BLE and ANT+ compatible trainers, cadence, heart rate and generic power meters are supported, speed sensors aren’t, and older turbo trainers only work with a power meter.
Get ready to train!
Need an indoor training to take your fitness to the next level? Stop in store for a great selection of all the latest technology to take your bike indoors during the long winter months. We've got the indoor trainers you need and the know how to get you going on them.
Excerpts taken from bicycling.com and cyclingweekly.com.