Indoor Cycling

How to Make Indoor Cycling more Fun and Productive

Here are 5 training tips from Coach Jake Rytlewski to make indoor cycling more fun and productive:
  1. Set up a dedicated indoor trainer space
  2. Select fun, diverse and short workouts
  3. Be Consistent
  4. Use technology to enhance your indoor riding experience
  5. Analyze your Data

Buy the 6 Week Indoor Training Plan described in this training tip!

The holidays are over and the new year is here. The 2017 racing season is just ahead. After breaking out a few hard hours over the holidays, mostly from the guilt of eating 3 kind of pies on the weekend, you need to come up a with a real plan for success. Indoor training is as much of a reality as not being able to go a day without hearing Christmas music. Luckily indoor training has never been easier.

For myself, I’ve been racing for over 15 years and just up to a couple of years ago you had only a few options. Did you ride rollers or a trainer? Was it a mag, fluid? Did you stare at the wall and listen to music, watch a movie or watch the 2001 TdF for the 17th time? Now the options seem never ending with smart trainers, powermeters and the newest craze: virtual training. Yeah remember the old days when you actually had to load up your gear to ride with someone!

Even with all the new fancy toys you still need that plan. That plan is what is going to help you keep you from reaching your targets and goals. The new technology can just make the time fly by as opposed to watching those last few seconds tick by on the microwave.

Here are 5 Tips to make your indoor training a success!

#1 Set yourself up a space where you can ride. Ideally you will be able to keep your trainer setup and all the other essentials right there in hand. That way you do not have to spend precious time and motivation just trying to set things up. You want it to be comfortable, ideally the temperature will be around 68* F. Also make sure you have a fan! I’m not talking about your personal cheering section, even though it couldn’t be much worse than standing in a feed zone in the middle of nowhere for hours on end, but a fan that will help keep you cool and the sweat off. Also have a towel and plenty of water! Your body runs hotter indoors and will go through more water so it is important that you stay hydrated.

#2 Keep the workouts fun, diverse and short! You want to be excited, well as much as possible, about your workout! As boring as riding indoors can be, repeating the same workout for the 4th time can only make things worse. Don’t just sit on the trainer in zone 2, make the most of your time. Add the intensity in, mix it up and get in 60 – 80 TSS in an hour times as opposed to stretching it out to 1.5 – 2 hour. Unless you are less than 6 weeks away from a goal race there is no reason to spend much more time than that.

#3 Be consistent! That goes along with not spending more than 90 minutes on the trainer. Riding 4 – 5 days a week goes alot further than doing 3 days really hard and being burnt out on the trainer. Winter can be a long season. Some can still be stuck on the trainer until April! You don’t want to be crushing it on the trainer in December and January and then be burnt out on it come March when the racing season is starting. It’s sort of like making the early break in a 100 mile road race, it looks great while it’s happening but come crunch time only a small percentage actually make it. Early in the winter season look to add in strength sessions and do some core work as opposed to just another day on the trainer. These are workouts you should add to your training year round.

#4 Use the new technology available in your training. Like I said earlier there are multiple types of trainers, rollers, smart trainers and now virtual training. See which one works best for you! If you have a coach they should be able to help you build a plan around what you have available. It’s a time for them to get creative and keep things fun all the while being efficient.

#5 Make sure you are uploading and analyzing your workouts. Make sure that you are hitting your zones and getting the proper workload. You want to make sure you are making progress and improving. You can take that a step further and see if your CTL (Chronic Training Load) is rising and also keep an eye on your TSB (Training Stress Balance) for fatigue levels. Even though the hours maybe short you still need to have those rest days and weeks.

Here are 5 Example 1 hour Indoor Workouts:
  1. Tempo Bursts: 3 x 10 min On 5 min OFF.  Ride Tempo (Zone 3) and during each 10 minute interval ‘burst’ for 5 seconds at 200% of your FTP every 2 minutes.
  2. Sweet Spot/Zone 5 VO2 Criss Cross: 4 x 9 min ON 4.5 min OFF. Ride Sweet Spot and every 2 minutes raise your power/HR and ‘cross’ up into Zone 5/VO2Max.  Return to Sweet Spot until the next ‘cross’
  3. Zone 4/5 Bursts: Watch a football game a make a Zone 4/5 burst during the plays.  Rest in-between and during the commercials
  4. Zwift: 4 laps total and ride in your Sweet Spot for laps 2 and 4
  5. Sufferfest: ‘Nuff said

The possibilities are really endless! For example you can change up the intensity and number of laps on Zwift, or even join one of the many group rides or virtual races! Additionally in TrainingPeaks you can use the new workout export feature to send all the structured variable power workouts from your training calendar directly to your SmartTrainer.  So all you have to do is pedal!

Set yourself up for success! Make sure you have everything you need for your trainer session to make it as fun, comfortable and effective as possible! Indoor training does not need to be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, yet it can just be another stroll in the park doing what you love! Get out there, or rather on it in there, and ride!

Copyright 2016 , FasCat Coaching

Sign Up for More Tips

Jake is an Associate Coach for FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO.  He is a former professional road racer and current full time professional USA cycling and TrainingPeaks certified coach.  Look for him on Strava and join him on the Zwift Island of Watopia for a great indoor group ride.  To talk with Jake about your indoor training and coaching, please call 720.406.7444 or fill our a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.


How to Perform an Indoor Field Test

by Carson Christen, January 6, 2014

Welcome to FasCat Coaching’s Indoor Cycling Class Program! During the first class, you will complete an indoor field test for 20 minutes.  This test will determine your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test in order to set your wattage and heart rate zones for precise training in the remaining classes. We will test again during the final week of class to measure your improvement! This training tip will give some advice for what you can do to prepare for your first class. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your test!

Goals: to determine your Power-Based Wattage Training Zones

1.      The purpose of this test is to have the highest average power for 20 minutes. By testing and going as hard as you can in order to get accurate training zones, you will be able to train and achieve precise physiological adaptations over the course of the 9 weeks.

2.       Power-Based Pacing: Now, this doesn’t mean start off as hard as you possibly can so your power drops over the course of the test. Most athletes will test in the 200-300 watt range. So starting your test at 400 watts would be going too hard!  Use your Week 1 average power to pace off of.  You can also complete this test by going by feel. “Try going as hard as you feel you can sustain for 20 minutes” without going above 300 watts (for example).  A FasCat coach will be present, so ask your coach what a good starting point will be.

3. Power-Based Training: Once you have completed your 20-minute test, your coach will upload your power data into TrainingPeaks, analyze your power, and determine your FTP number. You will receive a lanyard with your training zones to bring to class to training in the correct zones for each workout.

4.      Nutrition: If you are registered for a morning class, don’t worry about getting up early to eat; your body will have enough stored energy to complete the test!  For those evening classes, eat a good meal 3-4 hours before the test. It is important to have your glycogen stores topped off before attempting this workout! There will be water and Skratch electrolyte mix available when you arrive for your class.

5.      Arrive to class and be ready to go when class begins! Make sure to have your cycling outfit, towel, water bottle, shoes, and of course, your bike! We have a warm-up built in to the class, so come ready to ride and take the warm-up seriously!

6.     Be motivated for your test! A 20-minute Full Gas effort is a mentally challenging task. Come prepared to give you best effort and know that it is “just a test.” We will be on hand to motivate you! You will also complete a second 20-minute test during the final class. This test is under repeatable conditions to maximize accuracy! Once the spring and summer come around, you can re-test your fitness with 20-minute tests up the local climbs such as Flagstaff, Sunshine, or Lookout with a powermeter. We recommend testing again in late April – June as your fitness is ever changing and power-based training captures this change.

7. Use your average power to calculate your wattage zones.
We look forward to working with you and helping you reach your fitness goals! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call, email or visit FasCat.

Copyright 2015 , FasCat Coaching

FasCat Coaching, a cycling coaching company with a Performance Center in Boulder, CO.  To talk with a FasCat Coach about their Indoor Cycling Curriculum please call 720.406.7444, email for a New Athlete Questionnaire or stop in our Performance Center at 4550 North Broadway Street in Boulder, CO.


3 Indoor Cycling Workouts for the Winter

Riding on the trainer during the winter may not be your ideal way to spend an hour or two, but the truth is that training indoors can be highly productive when done properly. At FasCat, we have a couple rules of thumb when prescribing indoor training workouts for our athletes. They are:

  1. Limit the ride time to 60-75 minutes during the week and 90 minutes on the weekend.
  2. Add structure to the workout.
  3. Work on Advanced Aerobic Endurance.
  4. Never “just ride” in zone 2.

In January we like to add advanced aerobic endurance intervals to our athletes’ trainer workouts primarily in the form of Tempo and Sweet Spot workouts. By riding at higher intensities than traditional wintertime “base miles”, the athlete will achieve more physiological adaptations and make better use of his or her time.

Here are three indoor cycling workouts that will make the most of your winter trainer time:

1. Tempo Intervals

Tempo intervals are a great place to get started. Ride at 76-90% of your threshold (FTP or Functional Threshold Power). One example of a tempo workout for a 1-hour trainer ride:

  • Warm up for 10-15 minutes
  • 3 x 8 minutes on at 76-90% of FTP
  • 4-minute recoveries (“off”)
  • Cool-down/ride easy for remainer

2. Sweet Spot Intervals

Once you’ve done a few Tempo workouts, up the ante with Sweet Spot intervals which are slightly harder at 83-97% of one’s FTP. Again, do intervals in the 5 – 20 minute length repeating 2-5 times as appropriate. For example:

  • Warm-up 10-15 minutes
  • 3 x 10 minutes on at 83-97% of FTP
  • 5 minutes off (recoveries) in between each interval
  • Cool-down/ride easy for remainder

The 2:1 work-to-rest ratio (for example, 10 minutes on, 5 minutes off)  is more productive when training indoors.

3. Tempo Bursts

Tempo and Sweet Spot intervals are as hard as we have athletes go on the trainer in the winter. To continue the progression and to help the time pass quicker, we add bursts to the tempo and sweet spot intervals. For example, during workout #1 above we’d add a 5-second burst greater than 450 watts every 2 minutes during the 8 minute tempo interval. Not only is this specific to races that many of our athletes compete in, by having a burst to do every 2 minutes it actually helps the time pass by quicker!

An example Tempo Burst workout:

  • Warm-up 10-15 minutes
  • 3 x 8 minutes on at 76-90% of FTP, with a 5-second burst every 2 minutes that is > 450 watts
  • 4 minute recoveries in between intervals
  • Cool down

Overall the number of intervals and their length can be widely varied. Most athletes should start with a total of 20-30 minutes of tempo work during the workout, and increase the total load as they go along the season. Lastly, even though you are indoors don’t forgot to use a fan and drink plenty.


Looking for more indoor cycling workouts? Check out FasCat’s cycling training plans on TrainingPeaks.


Expected Physiological Adaptations in Sweet Spot

Tempo Training

by Frank Overton, January 25th, 2005

I made it out the door with about 90 min to spare before darkness and black ice would set in. What type of ride did I do? How do you go about achieving aerobic adaptations and adding some variety with limited time in the winter?

I did my first slushy sports drink ride the other day. For a short window of time that day the cycling god(s) shined down on me and work, weather, wife and baby all cooperated. A rare occurrence, indeed. No doubt with the way winter is going here in Colorado there’ll be more slushy rides. Don’t get me wrong, it was exhilarating – a thousand times better than the trainer.

The exhilarating part comes when you ride as far as possible away from home calculating exactly when you have to turn around in order to make it home in time. I just love hustling back and stopping at red lights with steam coming off my legs and shoulders.

Jailbreak from Trainer Hell

With 90 minutes to ride you might wonder what type of ride I did? I design training plans and think about training all day so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I put a lot of thought into each and every minute I spend on the bike. At this time of year I’d venture to guess that a large majority of us are well into our “base” phases, myself included. And I’m pretty sure we are all riding as much as we can within the grander scheme of life. Hey, we’d all like to be out there doing 5 hours rides day in and day out but that just simply isn’t realistic.

Additionally, I’d also venture to guess that, like me, you are getting pretty sick of riding the stationary trainer. I mean who can do more than 90 minutes back to back to back like an aerobic endurance phase calls for? I know I can’t.

And so what do you do to achieve those aerobic adaptations? Back to my slushy ride, you ride harder! Bring an ever so slight bit of intensity into your shorter time crunched rides and indoor trainer sessions. Take it up a notch! Not all out, eye popping interval intensity but nice, steady, sweat factory tempo training: Zone 3 intensity as seen from this table.

Tempo Training

Notice how more adaptations occur from riding in zone 3 than in zone 2 alone – more bang for your buck! If you’re using a powermeter, riding tempo (aka zone 3) will be represented by a greater total workload measured in kilojoules. If you are using WKO+, you’ll notice a greater Training Stress Score or TSS. If you’re using a heart rate monitor or RPE, well, it’s just a notch higher. All represent greater training adaptations than zone 2 alone.

Riding tempo is what I like to call “fun fast”, because tempo doesn’t elicit the pain like threshold training does unless it’s for an extended period of time. Plus, tempo is more technically stimulating than the mind numbing point and shoot zone 2 training.  For even more adaptations there is sweet spot training which we describe here.

Not So Fast, Buckaroo!

Now it would be really easy to take this recommendation out of context because it is based on several assumptions. First would be that you’ve already put in plenty of level 2 aerobic endurance training. Secondly, in the classical model of periodization you are ready and in need for an even greater training load in order to stimulate further adaptations. And finally it is based on athletes who are limited in their time: (i.e., not carrying a training load as high as they could if they had more time to train). Or in other words, athlete’s not even close to overtraining. That’s not to say that athletes carrying a greater training load can’t also benefit from riding tempo, they can; however it becomes a more slippery slope of optimizing just the right balance between the dose of training and the amount of recovery. Tempo delivers a greater training load and that’s why it’s beneficial for cyclists training with a limited amount of time.

For the weekend warriors, group rides are another great way to incorporate tempo into your training. Then you’ll really get your money’s worth out of your day. It’s a great transition between lower intensity zone 2 training and full tilt racing. When professional riders go off to training camp this is precisely what they are doing. Can you imagine one of the new Discovery recruits raising his hand saying, “errrr Mr. Armstrong, I’m only supposed to ride in Zone 2 today”? Hah! Did you read Armstrong’s quote the other week, “Some teams go off to camp to fish, I like to get together and suffer with the boys”? Fun for Armstrong, and I bet down right suffer city for some of the others!

Example Tempo Workouts

Zone 3: 3 reps of 10 minutes ON 5 minutes OFF  (Tempo performed between 76 – 90% of FTP)

Zone 3: 3 x 15 min ON 7.5 min OFF

Zone 3: 2 x 20 min ON 5 min OFF

Zone 3: 4 x 15 min ON 7.5 min OFF

As with all phases and cycles of your training, start off gradually – incorporate a few zone/level 3 tempo intervals into your mid week 90 minute trainer ride. Start conservatively with two or three 6 – 10 minute tempo intervals and work your way up. It is totally feasible to be able to work your way up to twenty or thirty minute tempo intervals for 60 minutes total tempo . After that point you may want to forget the structure and simply get out there and just throw down. And that my friends, is exactly what I did on my slushy ride!

Copyright 2017, FasCat Coaching

Sign Up for More Tips

Frank is the founder and owner of FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO. To talk with a FasCat Coach about incorporating Tempo into your training please  720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation. Or buy one of our six week, $49 training plans that have plenty of tempo training.