Structured training is the most efficient and effective way to become a faster cyclist. But getting started can seem daunting. Don’t worry; getting started with TrainerRoad is easy. In just a few simple steps, you’ll be using science-based training, planning, and analysis tools that increase your performance.
Step 1: Build A Customized Plan
If you have a specific event or goal, we recommend starting with a training plan. The best training plans are ones that are built around you, your goals, and your experience. The good news is that you can create a custom training plan with Plan Builder. Whether you are new to cycling or experienced, TrainerRoad has a plan that will work for you.
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With Plan Builder, you get a science-based program without the complications or guesswork. Using your current training volume, when and how long you can train, the events in your training calendar, and your goal event’s demands, Plan Builder builds the ideal training plan for you.
Don’t want a set training schedule? TrainNow is the easiest way to get the benefits of structured workouts when you’re not following a training plan, or when you want to supplement what you already have on the calendar. Powered by Adaptive Training, TrainNow gives you the right workout, every time, even if you’re not following a training plan.
Step 2: Choose How You Want to Workout
There are three ways to complete a TrainerRoad workout—Outside, Indoors, or with your friends in a Group Workout. You can mix and match any combination of the three. Each method will make the most of your hard work in the most time-efficient way possible.
TrainerRoad’s Outside Workouts allow you to take your structured workouts outside so that you can stick to your plan, wherever you are. The only equipment required for outside workouts is your bike. You can use a power meter or complete Outside Workouts without one by using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Either way—you’ll maximize the time on the bike to become faster.
- Garmin or Wahoo head unit
- Power meter
Training indoors is convenient, especially when you have a busy schedule and a limited window to train. If you want to train inside there is additional training equipment you’ll need, in addition to your bike. But there are plenty of setups for different budgets. Once your bike is on the trainer, open the TrainerRoad app on your mobile device or computer and pair your training devices.
You can start your workout in just a few clicks. In the app, click on the calendar tab. This will show all of your scheduled workouts. Next, click on the workout, then select the “load workout” button. If you have a cadence sensor paired, simply start pedaling to begin. You can find out more about getting started with indoor workouts in the Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Cycling Training.
The third way you can train is with your friends in a Group Workout. You and 10 of your friends can do the same indoor workout while sharing voice, video, and data. Training with friends gives you a built-in support system and extra motivation to nail your workouts. Group Workouts help you get through the tough workouts and make training time fly by.
- The same equipment for indoor workouts
- The latest version of the TrainerRoad desktop app
- A webcam if your computer doesn’t have one built-in
- Sweatproof headphones
If your friends are unavailable, don’t worry! There are plenty of like-minded cyclists in the TrainerRoad forum planning Group Workouts. The Group Workout Room Sharing thread is a good place to find others to workout with.
Step 3: Complete the Ramp Test
Once you have your plan and have decided how you will complete the workouts, it’s time to start getting faster. That means it’s time to assess your fitness to make sure the workouts are matched to your fitness level. Every block of your training plan begins with a Ramp Test. This test estimates your Functional Threshold Power, which is used to scale every workout to your abilities.
The Ramp Test begins with a 5-minute warm-up and increases the difficulty one minute step at a time until you can’t maintain the target power any longer. It typically takes between 20 and 25-minutes to complete and requires no special preparation besides being reasonably rested. Designed to be completed indoors, you can complete the Ramp Test either by yourself or with friends in a Group Ramp Test.
Tips for Indoor Cycling Workouts
Riding indoors on the trainer can be a different experience than riding outside. Here are some tips that can help you nail your workout.
Ride in Erg Mode
Today’s smart trainers can automatically control the resistance using Erg mode without the need to shift gears. To keep you on target, Erg mode changes the resistance based on your cadence. As your cadence drops, your trainer increases the resistance and vice versa. The TrainerRoad app takes care of all these details in the background, ensuring you are hitting the power target.
It can feel a bit different, but it allows you to focus on turning the pedals. We recommend using the small chainring in the front and a rear gear that makes for a straight chain line. This will help your trainer react smoother to changes in your cadence. Speaking of cadence, try to keep it as steady as possible.
Keep Yourself Cool
Riding inside means that you won’t get the benefit of the natural airflow you’d get outside. One of the biggest mistakes we see is a lack of cooling. To keep from overheating, use a fan that can blow a concentrated stream of air at the body’s core. This will help you keep cool, allowing you to push through the workout.
Fuel and Hydrate
Your body needs fuel to power the different energy systems used in cycling. Fuel your workouts with a healthy carb-centric meal 3-4 hours beforehand. You can continue fueling with a sports drink or gel during the workout and try to drink a bottle an hour. Nutrition is highly individual, so experiment to find what works best for you.
For more cycling training knowledge, listen to Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.