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Beat Boredom on an Indoor Bike

By Sheila Ascroft

spinning_at_the_gym_hpIf you’re stuck riding an indoor trainer three or four times a week, the winter months will definitely improve your fitness, but it could wear down your mind. It’s hard to keep pedalling and go nowhere–eventually the boredom will drain you. Having a spring goal will help keep you focussed.

Some lucky people have Tacx Virtual Reality trainers with some nifty “real life” videos of the pros, but for most of us, the option is the TV or some old Tour de France videos produced before Lance was a household name. Still, there are things to improve your indoor riding experience this winter:

  • Join a spinning class so you get out of the house and meet new people – that always cuts down the boredom factor
  • If you stay home, make sure to limit your indoor cycling to an hour or less
  • Vary your workouts, hard/easy, fast/slow, or do “ladders” where, after a warm-up, you start in an easy gear and pedal for a minute, then click to the next gear for a minute and continue until you run out of cogs or your legs give in. Then pedal a minute each down the ladder until you spin easy again.
  • Follow specific training videos such as the Spinerval series (www.spinervals.com)
  • Buy the Indoor Cycling Training DVD from LeMond Fitness that was produced in co-operation with the American Council on Exercise
  • Take the advice of veteran cyclist and coach Fred Matheny of www.roadbikerider.com (see below).

Matheny says to use the trainer as one station in a circuit. Warm up with 15 minutes of pedalling. Then get off and do one set of 15-25 reps of three exercises such as step-ups, crunches and push-ups.

Hop back on the trainer and ride two-three minutes at a resistance that gets your heart rate close to lactate threshold at the end of the interval. The effort should feel hard but not excruciating. The combination of one trainer interval and three exercises equals one set.

Work up to five to eight sets. Vary the exercises each time and the trainer interval as well. For instance, you might try three repeats of 30 seconds pedalling hard, separated by 30 seconds of easy spinning. Or pedal at a moderate pace for five minutes.

Matheny says that such workouts have been shown to boost lactate threshold. They help make indoor training a lot less boring. I guarantee they make you work hard and get the most out of an hour.

© Sheila Ascroft


I’ve been cycling for 20-some years and writing about it for the last 10. My articles have been published in newspapers and magazines — and now on the women’s cycling website! I’m a member of the Ottawa Bicycle Club and the Canadian Kilometer Achiever Program. www.sheilaascroft.com

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