Whether you’re experienced, just a beginner to indoor cycling, or need to find the best indoor trainer, these quick and effective tips will increase your chances of success.

For more training tips and information on other topics check out the Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 239

Indoor Cycling Training Plan

Once you have the right equipment, it’s time to start getting faster with a training plan. TrainerRoad uses science-based plans filled with workouts designed to increase your fitness. You can use Plan Builder to create a custom plan for you. Creating an indoor cycling training plan is an important step in reaching your goals.

Why a Training Plan is Important

A training plan serves as the foundation of structured training. To become a faster cyclist, there’s an optimal, science-backed training process to follow. Structured training is a process by which you train specific energy systems while progressively stressing your body. As a result, you gain performance-boosting adaptations, increasing your FTP, VO2 max, and muscular endurance.

Structured training begins with a plan and uses specific power-based workouts that are designed to make you faster in the most effective and time-efficient way. Using your current capabilities, every workout is tailored to your particular needs. But structured training is more than just repeating the same workout. The best plans progressively add more to your workouts while giving you the rest needed to recover and adapt. 

What to Look for in a Training Plan

When considering training plans, you’ll want one that will account for your goals, events you plan to complete, the amount of time you have to train, and your training experience. The good news is that you can create a custom training plan with Plan Builder.

A custom training plan, automatically built for your goals.

Try Plan Builder

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.

Indoor Cycling Training Plan for Beginners

Beginning an indoor cycling training plan can seem daunting. But the good news is that whatever your fitness level, TrainerRoad has the right training plan for you. You don’t have to train to start training. However, there are a few things to consider if you’re new to indoor cycling training. 

One of the most important first steps is to access your fitness level with an FTP test. FTP is your Function Threshold Power and serves as a way to scale the workouts to your current fitness. Every TrainerRoad training plan begins with a Ramp Test. It’s a short, simple, and accurate way to measure your fitness. 

For beginners, we recommend starting with Low-Volume Sweet Spot Base. This will have you on the bike three times a week for a total of three to four hours. Divided into two six-week blocks, this plan will develop your aerobic base fitness and muscular endurance. 

Indoor Cycling Workouts for Beginners

TrainerRoad has over 2,000 different workouts that range from recovery rides to race simulations. Most workouts feature coaching tips and workout instructions to help improve your pedaling, efficiency, and mindset. Here are three indoor cycling workouts we recommend for beginners. 

This is a workout chart for an intro smart trainer workout.

This short, four-minute workout is an introduction to riding on a smart trainer. If you’re new to erg mode and training indoors, start here. 

This is a workout chart for Pettit an endurance indoor cycling workout.

Pettit is an hour-long endurance workout. It includes cadence drills and form sprints. Workouts like Pettit improve oxygen delivery & utilization, increase muscular resistance to fatigue, and even help you improve your on-bike nutrition strategies.

This is a workout chart for Carson, a sweet spot indoor cycling workout .

Carson is a Sweet Spot workout designed to expand your aerobic base fitness and increase muscular endurance. During the hour-long ride, you’ll complete six intervals that last between five to seven minutes while completing climbing drills. 

Benefits of Indoor Cycling

Training indoors offers tons of benefits in comparison to riding outside. It’s convenient, easily accessible, and isn’t affected by the weather. Perhaps the biggest advantage to indoor training is the sheer efficiency. Training indoors means that you can precisely hit your power targets without wasting time waiting on traffic. 

For many beginners, one of the most significant differences to training indoors is constant pedaling. Typically, riding outdoors offers numerous small breaks from pedaling, but the pedals are always turning on the trainer. This can be a challenge to many beginners. Don’t worry! Soon, constant pedaling will be a strength that transfers to performance outside. 

Indoor Trainer Setup

Before you get started with indoor training, you need some equipment first. But don’t worry, getting started with TrainerRoad is easy. There’s some equipment that you will need and some items that will help maximize your hard work.

At the very least, you need a bike, trainer, sensor, and a device to run the TrainerRoad app. The choices for trainer and sensor will depend on your budget, but the good news is that there are plenty of options.

Beginner Accessories for Indoor Training

Besides a trainer, you’ll want to budget for some accessories that can improve your indoor training experience.

  • A good fan to keep cool.
  • A few gym towels to keep sweat off your bike.
  • Sweatproof headphones to listen to your favorite songs.
  • Water bottles so you can fuel your training
  • A stand or holder for your device.

Indoor Training

Make the most of your hard work with an optimized indoor training experience.

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Entry-Level Trainers

The lowest cost option is to use VirtualPower with a trainer and a speed sensor. That way, you can get the benefits of power-based training without the cost of a power meter or a smart trainer. VirtualPower supports nearly every trainer on the market. Check out our equipment checker to see if it’s supported.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is great for a beginner to indoor cycling training.

Here are our recommendations for the best entry-level trainer for beginners to indoor training.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2
Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive (Great if space is an issue)
Garmin Speed Sensor 2

Mid-Level Power Meters

The best indoor trainer for a mid-level budget is one of the trainers listed above and a power meter. This is a lower-priced option if you already have a trainer.

A single sided power meter is a mid-level investment for indoor cycling training for beginners

Buying both a trainer and power meter will cost more, but the versatility allows you to take your training outdoors with Outside Workouts. Here are our recommendations for mid-level power meters.

Stages Gen 3 Power Meter
4iiii Precision Power Meter

High-End Indoor Trainers

For the best indoor trainer experience, a smart trainer is the way to go. These trainers automatically control the resistance, which can be especially helpful for beginners. Here are the smart trainers we recommend.

The Saris H3 is a good choice for a beginner to indoor training.

Saris H3
Tacx Neo 2T
Wahoo Kickr

Before The Workout

Build the Right Training Plan
Start with low-volume training and work your way up over time. As a beginner to indoor training, you’ll want to complete a Ramp Test first.

Sleep 8-10 Hours A Night
One of the most overlooked aspects of your recovery is sleep. More sleep will improve your overall quality of life, allow you to train more, and recover faster.  

Fuel Your Workout 
Your body needs the proper fuel for intense workouts. Eat a healthy carb-centric meal 3-4 hours before to give your body the fuel it needs. Try to focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods.

Take Some Caffeine
Caffeine reduces your perceived exertion, making the workout seem a little easier. It takes about an hour after ingestion to reach its peak effectiveness, but don’t intake it too late in the day and disturb a good night of sleep.

Train With Your Friends
You can use the Group Workouts feature and get faster together. Share voice, video, and data to get that extra motivation.

During The Workout

Keep Cool
This is the most common beginner mistakes of indoor training equipment that we see. Get at least one fan that moves a high volume of air and position it to cover the maximum amount of surface area on your body as possible. We like this fan.

Listen to Music
A good song can motivate you to push through a hard workout. If you are going to use headphones, we recommend ones that have an IPX7 rating or higher to keep out the sweat.

Watch Something
Watch and learn from the great race analysis videos from our YouTube channel. During the easier aerobic workouts, try incorporating more involved entertainment options like your favorite movie or TV show.

Drink Up
Aim for at least one bottle every hour and maybe more. Pro tip: add some ice to the bottle to help reduce your core temperature.

Fuel Again
Another beginner misconception is that since the workout is short or indoors, you don’t need to fuel like you would on a normal ride. If anything, indoor training is particularly hard, so fueling your workouts is very important, and can be crucial to a good performance. This can be as simple as eating a gel or drinking a sports mix. Not only are you training your GI system to handle carbohydrates, but you are developing good nutrition habits for race day.

After The Workout

Set Up For The Next Workout
Even the smallest obstacles to getting started with your workout can be enough to keep you from training. Prepare your water bottles, set out your shoes and kit, keep a bike on the trainer, and keep your fan in place. Use a remote outlet for your fan if you can, and make sure to have a device ready to run TrainerRoad in your training area. Doing this saves time and will make it easier to get on the bike.

Analyze Your Workout
Take a look at your workout data with the Ride Analysis features on TrainerRoad to see PRs, find failure points, and get an idea of how hard the workout really was. Use the Ride Notes feature to write down what worked and what didn’t. Analyzing the data will help you see the impact of your training and keep you on track for your goals.

Enjoy Your Hard Work
You did it, now enjoy it. Endurance athletes can be notoriously hard on themselves. Take a few moments to celebrate smaller training victories to counterbalance the disappointing days we all have. This will help stoke your motivation as your training continues.

Tips for Indoor Cycling Beginners

  • Adjust your setup. Everyone has different preferences for their indoor training space. Experiment and discover what works best for you. 
  • Trust the Process and follow your plan because consistency leads to long-term fitness growth.
  • Set up things in advance to ultra-convenient workouts. Prepare your bottles and kit the night before, so all you have to do is get dress and hop on the trainer. 
  • Commit to starting. Sometimes motivation runs low. If that’s the case, commit to starting the workout. Usually, you’ll feel much better after the first interval. 
  • Emphasize recovery. Training places tremendous stress on your body, so make sure you are getting enough rest, sleep, and nutrition. 

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.

Why Athletes Around the World Use TrainerRoad to Get Faster

Over 9,000 reviews in the App Store. An average of 4.9 stars. The highest rating of any cycling training app. Over 16 million workouts completed and counting. 100 different training plans and over 2,000 different workouts that are used to automatically build a custom plan for your goals and experience. All because we focus on one thing: helping you get faster.

Want even more proof? Check out over 1,700 stories and FTP improvements for how TrainerRoad has helped athletes get faster and explore everything we have to make you a faster cyclist at TrainerRoad.com.

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Jesse Fortson

Jesse Fortson lost over 145 pounds with TrainerRoad's help. He uses his experience as a teacher and race mechanic to get faster for crits, gravel, and marathon XCO races.