How to Use Indoor Cycling to Improve Performance

Indoor cycling enhances your training with data, precision, and personalisation. Our guide to indoor cycling pedals you through the benefits, and how a smart bike can benefit your training and performance.

a female cyclist in grey and black cycling clothing using an indoor smart bike to train

Table of Contents:

5 Core Benefits of Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling has many training, performance, and fitness benefits. Cycling at home with an indoor bike trainer makes getting your miles in even easier. Indoor cycling can even be better than getting outdoors on the road, with studies suggesting that an hour spent indoor cycling could equal up to two hours of your outdoor ride. As coach Matt Rowe suggests, this is because of the various factors which may impact your real-road experience, rather than the consistent power applied when on an indoor trainer. 

The benefits of indoor cycling include:

  • Convenience - Your smart bike will sit indoors, ready for you when you’re ready to ride. You don’t have to make sure your tyres are puncture-free, check your route beforehand, or dress for the weather. Your indoor trainer is ready and waiting, as straightforward as simply jumping on. 
  • Tailored performance - A good smart bike will create dedicated cycling performance data based on your indoor cycling efforts. That way, you can see directly how your indoor cycling is affecting your fitness, your performance, and key data insights. You can make every revolution count with the data from an indoor cycle trainer.  
  • Time efficientIndoor cycling benefits those with a busy schedule because you can squeeze in a workout even on your most tightly-packed days. Whether it’s a quick 20 minutes before work, or half an hour after the day is done, you can still benefit from a shorter pedal. Just make sure to set time aside for those longer rides when your schedule allows.
  • Safety - Avoiding traffic, potholes, and black ice are just a few of the familiar hazards any cyclists will face when outdoor cycling. Indoor cycling means you don’t have to dodge the world around you, you can cycle in peace, away from potential danger, and make every revolution count. 
  • Reliability - If you pick the right smart bike trainer, then indoor cycling can provide a reliable way to exercise. You don’t have to depend on good weather to get pedalling, and with Wattbike, you can see real-time data as you cycle. 

Though we know there’s a refreshing feeling to getting out in the cold, pedalling through the day, indoor cycling enhances your training with its many benefits. 

Why Smart Bikes are Best 

To see the benefits of indoor cycling, you need to ensure you have the right smart bike to guide you through. The Wattbike Atom features unparalleled accuracy, data insights, and features to help improve your cycling performance. 

  • Stay indoors -Indoor cycling means you’ll avoid the wind, rain, snow, and black ice that comes with on-road pedalling. You can steer clear of traffic, and other cyclists, and focus on putting in the miles in your own time. You can even improve during the off-season with winter cycling training on your indoor smart bike.
  • Tailored gearing - With the Atom, you’re able to customise your virtual gearing and shifter configuration to easily shift between 22 gears with the touch of a button, helping you stay in control of your ride.  
  • Accurate readings- Smart bikes provide data to an accurate degree to perfect your routine. Within a ±1% range, the Atom delivers accurate data to help you reach your indoor cycling goals.
  • Automatic resistance - With built-in electromagnetic resistance, your smart bike automatically adjusts to the gradients on your virtual ride, real world route, or climb. You can also switch to ERG mode and the smart resistance unit is adjusted to correspond with the power output required for each interval.
  • Real-road feel - Thanks to our real-ride feel technology, we bring the outside inside for a genuine cycling experience. 

Everything You’ll Need for Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling can improve your performance, and you’ll need the best equipment you can in order to meet your targets. While you may not need so much preparation as outdoor cycling, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Wattbike smart bike - The number one essential for your indoor cycling. 
  • Floor mat- A floor mat will sit beneath your indoor bike trainer and protect your floor, as well as make any sweat easily cleanable once you’ve completed even the most gruelling of workouts. 
  • Heart rate monitor - A heart rate monitor will allow you to measure your heart rate as you workout, and enable you to assess your performance and improve your heart rate training.
  • Wattbike Hub - Discover over 100 workouts, train various aspects of cycling, and see your performance data in real-time to ensure every session counts. You can select workouts to test yourself, and find recreated routes from Sportives and Grand Tours to tackle.
  • Third party Apps - E.g. Zwift. Having smart bike compatible cycling training apps can help to motivate you. Find real-world routes to tackle, share with friends, and enjoy interactivity as you train. 
  • Bluetooth device - You’ll need a Bluetooth device, like a smartphone or tablet, or connect via an ANT+ dongle, in order to see your performance data and connect to cycling apps. 
  • Fan - An indoor cycling fan can help to keep you cool in the heat, reduce some of the sweat you’ll experience, and enhance the real-road feeling.
  • Goals - Keeping goals in mind is important for indoor cycling. You can keep track of your targets and spur yourself on to reach them. Ensure you have a realistic view of your own ability, and remember to celebrate every small achievement. 
  • Motivation - you won’t have the views or other cyclists to push you onwards, so you’re going to have to be the one who fuels your motivation to work out. 
  • Dedication - Staying consistent with your training can help you stay on top of your training. You’ll have to commit to your targets, and this requires a dedicated approach to indoor cycling. 

Type of Indoor Cycling Workouts

Wattbike workouts on your indoor cycling bike mean you can create structured, tailored plans for each session. Rather than relying on the perfect route to help you tackle every aspect of your performance. Indoor cycling allows you to target key areas of your training plan and make the most of every session. 

With the Wattbike Hub, you can find cycling workouts designed to help you train the various aspects of cycling performance, from aerobic efficiency to cardiovascular fitness: 

Endurance  

Endurance indoor cycling workouts will help you push yourself harder, for longer. Prepare for longer events, train for sports matches, and help your body become more aerobically efficient. Improving your cycling endurance means your body can supply your body with what it needs more effectively over a sustained effort.  

Recommended workout: Aerobic Efficiency

HIIT 

For a shorter session, high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts feature repeated short-burst efforts, to help improve your power over a shorter period of time and distance. This type of training also has a positive effect on endurance performance. Great for those on a busy schedule, who want to maximise their indoor cycling with limited time.

Recommended workout: Power Up

VO2 Max

Improve your endurance and aerobic efficiency by improving VO2 Max. These workouts include the VO2 Ladder designed by All Blacks coach Nic Gil, which involves 5 levels, where each level gets shorter but more intense.

Recommended workout: VO2 Max Decliners

Sprinting

Sprinting workouts ensure you’re prepared for the final leg of an event or race, ready to work hard to the finish line. Our workouts for improving this area of indoor cycling help you start sprint training. You’ll know when to pick up the intensity when it counts - burn calories, improve cardio efficiency, and optimise your leg speed.

Recommended workout: Sprint Stage

Climbing

Improving your cycling climbing is made easier than ever thanks to indoor cycling with our Wattbike Hub workouts. Access iconic climbs from around the world from the comfort of your home. Tackle Scottish Borders, the Buttertubs of Yorkshire, or the hills of Snowdonia. Combat the Chappies in Cape Town, or the Pyrénées, France. No matter where you want to visit, indoor cycling will get you there.

Recommended workout: Cyclist Climb Workout

Apps for Indoor Training 

Indoor cycling, despite its many benefits, can feel a little lonely sometimes. Unlike whipping along paths between trees with your riding buddies, or soaring with the peloton in a race, you’re on your own, focused on your training. Companion apps can help you connect your training to something virtual. 

  • The Wattbike Hub - Our free companion app, the Wattbike Hub, features  workouts, plans, tests and challenges written by world-class sport scientists, coaches and athletes. Connect to the Hub via your smart device, and begin tracking your indoor cycling workouts. You’ll find a wide range of workouts to stay active and ahead of your targets.  

The Wattbike Atom works seamlessly with a number of cycling training apps that can push you closer to your targets and keep you in line with your goals. Celebrate your achievements and tailor your indoor training with compatible cycling apps, such as:

  • Zwift - Reach goals in a virtual world with an online community.
  • TrainerRoad - Personalise your indoor cycling with AI-powered training.
  • TrainingPeaks - Accredited coaches walk you through your fitness plan.
  • Rouvy - Workout with realistic riding experience via augmented reality.
  • Fulgaz - Achieve targets on real-world terrain with cutting edge coaching.
  • Strava - Track, analyse, and share every aspect of your cycling performance.

Whether you’re looking for an app with realistic courses, or sharing your performance with a friend. The best apps for indoor cycling are ones that help motivate and push you on to your next session.

Turbo Trainer vs Smart Bike

When it comes to indoor cycling, a smart bike is the essential kit to get your heart racing and your performance tested. While other indoor setups, such as turbo trainers, may offer the opportunity to cycle indoors, you’re likely to face inconveniences that may hinder your motivation to ride. 

When comparing different types of indoor bikes, there are clear benefits to indoor cycling on a smart bike:

  • Convenience - The biggest difference when comparing smart bikes vs turbo trainers, is that you need a road bike to use a turbo trainer. You’ll have to bring your road bike inside from wherever you keep your bike, which could mean dirty floors and oily furniture, or cleaning before you can train. It could potentially damage your bike, and renders it out of action for when you do want to get outside. A smart bike is ready whenever you have the urge to train. That way, you can be ready to pedal whether indoors or outdoors, without the hassle of changing from one to the other.
  • Performance data - Turbo trainers don’t record your cycling data, meaning they can’t help you see where improvements need to be made. At Wattbike, we’re passionate about data. You can harness your pedalling with our detailed Polar View recording and Pedal Effectiveness Score. These metrics help you improve your pedal stroke with live insight into your left and right leg balance during revolutions. They’ll direct you to the importance of Functional Threshold Power, and how to improve your FTP.
  • Noise - Turbo trainers and bike rollers also have a habit of being noisy, so you’ll have to time your sessions when they won’t affect anyone else. It can also be frustrating and off putting cycling with such a racket. Whereas, the Wattbike Atom is designed to be as noiseless as possible, to help keep your focus on the training.
  • Footprint - Turbos notoriously have a large footprint, which can make keeping them in the house difficult. The Wattbike Atom has a 124cm x 50cm footprint, making it perfect for use in the home, without taking up too much space. Plus it’s smaller than a turbo trainer set up, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your road bike either!

Improving Performance with Wattbike

With Wattbike, you can harness your indoor cycling data to improve your fitness and prepare for events. Test your performance and see how each session gets you closer to your targets.

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