By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Cyclists everywhere agree that training indoors on a bicycle is not fun. In fact it’s boring. But consider your options. If you live in Canada or in the northern US it may be too cold, too wet, or too icy to ride outside for several months of the year. Yes, there are several cross-training sports such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skating and running that you can do in the winter. Hearty runners tend to brave the elements all twelve months of the year. But regardless of how many cross-training activities you do, if you’re serious about cycling you’ve still got to climb on a bike and spin a couple of times a week or more, to keep in good cycling form in the off-season.
What are your options? You can join a spin class or you can buy a trainer for your bike and spin at home, or you can do both. There are advantages to joining a spinning class but there are also many benefits to buying a trainer and cycling at home. Here are a few:
1) It’s your bike! Given that in one hour of cycling you turn the pedal up to 5,000 times, bike-fit counts. Even if your gym uses good spin bikes, it’s still not your bike. If you experience knee, hip, back, shoulder or crotch pain during your spin class it’s because the bike doesn’t fit you. If the pain or discomfort continues even after making a few adjustments, consider setting up a trainer at home where you can ride your own correctly-fitted bike.
2) Practice technique. Many spinning instructors are not cyclists. They don’t ride a road bike outside, and their workouts don’t necessarily follow good bicycling practices. When you use your trainer at home you can work on cycling techniques that aren’t covered in spin class, such as single-leg drills that develop an efficient pedal stroke, making you faster on the bike.
3) A customized training program. Your instructor may be pumped up to maximum on a day when you’re tanking. Sure, you can pace yourself, but will you? It’s important to listen to your body. If you have a trainer at home you can customize your workouts to suit your energy levels and goals. [If you’re looking for a home training program, check out Winter Training for Cyclists]
4) Listen to music you like. Some of the most common complaints I hear about spinning classes is that the music is old, boring or too repetitive. Cycle at home and you can listen to whatever energizes and inspires you.
5) Watch cycling videos while you ride. Maybe watching the Tour de France gets you pumped up on the bike. That’s something you can do that at home. Or buy other cycling videos to break up the boredom.
6) Convenience. You can’t beat the convenience of a home trainer. If you’re pressed for time, getting your workout done at home before or after work may be the only way you’re going to be able to fit it into a busy day.
Whether you cycle at a spin studio, in a gym or at home on a trainer, what’s important is that you bike regularly over the winter months.
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