How to Complete Cycling Time Trials on an Indoor Trainer

Time trial cycling is a great way to test your performance and monitor your goals. It tests your ability to ride fast. Our guide takes you through the benefits of indoor training to prepare for your time trial, and performing your cycling time trials on your smart trainer with the Wattbike Hub. 

a cyclist drinking water while training on an indoor smart bike

Table of Contents:

Why You Should Train for Time Trials Using Indoor Cycling 

Training for a cycling time trial on an indoor bike trainer means you can harness your performance data and improve your speed before you test your pace. Indoor cycling on a smart bike allows you to immerse yourself in historic stages, train for set distances, and help you prepare for group rides, sportives, and events. Indoor bikes make preparing for your cycling time trial convenient - you can complete your training from your own home, and get in shorter sessions even when you’re stretched for time. 

Improving your speed for a time trial can be helped by your indoor trainers. Try cycling for certain distances and for certain times in order to replicate the time trial you are training for. Tips for your time trials include finding consistency in your training.

Training for a cycling time trial during the off-season is made easier when you utilise indoor cycling. Winter training makes cycling possible even when the weather outside is miserable, or even too dangerous to ride. Indoor cycling means you avoid hazardous black ice, numb fingers and riding into the rain. You’ll improve your speed for this performance test, without even leaving the house!

How to Train for A Time Trial

Training for a time trial using an indoor bike trainer can benefit your speed and endurance. Here are some of the best ways to train in order to benefit your performance in a cycling time trial: 

  • Sustainable output - Time trial cycling training requires you to build up to your maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) which is the highest blood concentration of lactate that can be maintained over time. Building this means your body is able to convert the lactate into energy as quickly as your body produces it. In addition to this, improve your VO2 Max (how the body effectively uses oxygen) to build your aerobic capacity. Endurance cycling training can help you improve this, in order to be best prepared for your time trial. 
  • Mixture indoor and outdoor training - Even if you are completing your cycling time trial indoors, get some outdoor cycling training to help build up your ability. Consider a few outdoor sessions with varied terrain to stimulate all of your muscle groups. Plus the Wattbike Atom has a familiar and replicable TT-position so you can increase the reliability and situational transference. 
  • Set your pace - In a cycling time trial you have to begin quickly, at a speedy but manageable pace. You’ll have to use your sprint cycling to finish in order to get the most from your time. Vary your training to help improve both your endurance and your sprinting so you’ll be able to sustain your pace and sprint to the finish.
  • Prioritise nutrition - Getting your fastest time doesn’t come without compromise. Make sure you’re eating for cycling recovery and making healthy choices that benefit your body. 
  • Use the data -Focus on data transference, and matching road numbers (cadence/ power/ HR) with indoor could be a nice way to be another reason to believe. Train to your numbers on the Wattbike Atom. Atom is 1%, confidence in the data and your physical ability so when you're back out on the bike you'll have the confidence to push those numbers. You've done it before, so you can do it again.
  • Set proper, achievable goals - In a cycling time trial, you are only racing yourself. Cycling time trials are benchmarks for self improvement. Prepare carefully, and remember yours is the only score you should be concerned with.
  • Practise - You need to recreate the expected conditions of the trial, in order to improve your speed over the distance or time of the time trial you’re completing. That way, when you come round to the race, you and your body will know what to expect.

Time Trial Workouts on the Wattbike Hub

At Wattbike, we’ve made training for cycling time trials and completing them easier than ever with our companion app, the Wattbike Hub. With the unparalleled data available from the Wattbike Hub, you can focus on the improvements you make, and see real change in your time trial training. 

The Time Trial

In this cycling simulation workout, you can experience the sustained power required from a cycling time trial. Created by pro-cyclist Ollie Peckover, this workout may leave you feeling exhausted initially afterwards. 

The 35-minute workout is split into:

  • 6-minute ramp warm-up
  • 1 x 8-minutes of varied FTPs
  • 1 x 6.5-minutes of varied FTPs
  • 5-minute cool-down

Time Trial Stage

This cycling simulation workout is suitable for anyone wanting to improve their aerobic endurance. With a combination of intervals and higher power recovery, you can work on your endurance targets. 

This 45-minute session is broken into:

  • 1 x 7-minutes at 70% FTP
  • 4 x 1-minute sprints - each increasing with intensity
  • 1 x 25-minute session ranging between 99% and 127% FTP
  • 1 x 5-minutes at 56% FTP.

Everything You’ll Need for A Cycling Time Trial 

Whether you’ve completed a few cycling time trials before, or you’re completely new to the concept, there are certain things you’ll need when the moment comes to test your speed. Indoor, or outdoor, here’s what you may need to consider on the day:

Indoor 

When completing your cycling time trial on an indoor bike, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Indoor trainer - To complete your time trial indoors, you’ll need a smart bike which can track your speed, and allow you to recreate that real-road feeling. 
  • The Wattbike Hub - Most importantly you’ll need the Wattbike Hub app to select the cycling time trial workout you want to complete. This is also where dedicated data to your ride will appear, including functional threshold power, and a view of your pedalling with polar view
  • Heart rate monitor - A heart rate monitor can help to measure your performance as you complete the cycling time trial. 
  • Bluetooth compatible device - This will show the Hub app and connect to your indoor trainer in order to show your performance. You can also connect your devices via an ANT+ dongle
  • Motivation - Unlike an outdoor cycling time trial, you won’t have so much stimulation as you ride. There won’t be other cyclists around you, so you may miss that instinctive push from other riders. Therefore, it’s important to find something to spur you on as you ride - perhaps your favourite music or a motivating quote on the wall in front of you. However, indoors, you will have fewer distractions so you can really focus on your breathing and your pedalling.  
  • Nutrition - Taking part in a time trial is about more than just the hours spent on your indoor smart trainer. Prepare properly with the right food, ensuring you include essential macros before you complete your time trial. Ensure you have water by your side, and recover properly once you’ve reached your finish line.

Real Road 

For a real road time trial, you’ll need: 

  • Any road-worthy bike- You can get specific time trial bikes which are designed to be even more aerodynamic, and therefore usually, compromise on comfort.
  • Entry fee - Local clubs need to be Cycling Time Trials registered. This central governing body regulates the time trials so that testing is done fairly and everyone who participates can be reassured by their performance. These clubs may have entry fees, and larger clubs may require more. 
  • Aerodynamic helmet and clothing - To reduce drag as much as possible, you’ll want to make sure your gear is not holding you back.

Why Indoor Time Trials Can Be Better Than Outdoor

Time trials outdoors, maybe at your local club, can face a number of factors which may affect your speed. Therefore, completing your cycling time trial indoors may be less complicated than indoors. Not only that, but studies have suggested that an hour spent training on an indoor bike can be as effective as up to two on a real-road bike. 

Outdoors, there are many factors which may affect your speed in your cycling time trial, such as:

  • Wind resistance 
  • Traffic 
  • Weather conditions
  • Temperature 

When you complete your training and your cycling time trial on an indoor bike, you can remove these elements. Stay free from rain or wind resistance, say goodbye to dodging between potholes and avoid the added element of looking out for traffic. 

When you’ve perfect your indoor bike set up you’ll have everything you need to get off at speed, and stay focused on the challenge ahead. Testing your performance and benchmarking your goals may be more convenient, safer, and improve your speed when you use an indoor bike trainer.

Indoor Training with Wattbike

At Wattbike, our unparalleled cycling data and indoor performance bikes help you make the most of your training. With dedicated training programmes and compatible cycling apps, reach your goals and set new targets!


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