A bicycle trainer is a piece of equipment that makes it possible to ride a bicycle while it remains stationary. A popular choice among cyclists these are commonly used to warm up before races, or when riding conditions outside are not favorable. Almost all bicycles can easily be used by with most trainers.
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to choose the best indoor trainer
Quite a few virtual training programs have been released recently that have opened up a whole new dimension to riding. Trainer Road and Zwift are two popular options that have taken the cycling world by storm by gamifying riding.
We’re going to be deep-diving into the TrainerRoad platform here.
Check our post that deep dives into the Zwift.com training platform.
TrainerRoad is a training software that aims at redefining the way a cyclist trains. TrainerRoad makes cyclists faster through their proven, all-in-one training system. Riders of all disciplines use TrainerRoad to perform structured indoor workouts, follow science-backed training plans, and analyze their progress through performance analysis tools.
HOW DOES TRAINER ROAD WORK?
Pedaling away aimlessly on an indoor trainer can get excruciatingly boring after some time. Besides, doing so is not really beneficial. Targeted workouts can be a lot more effective for training, even better than just riding outdoors!
TrainerRoad is a surprisingly good solution for some effective indoor training. It offers a wide range of power-based interactive workouts that you can do on any trainer, with or without a power meter. Yes, that’s right, you don’t necessarily need a power meter to use TrainerRoad – the software will do a decent job of approximating your “Virtual Power” based on your trainer model and your live speed data.
WHAT DO I NEED?
TrainerRoad works on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS platforms. To use it, you need
- Smartphone, Tablet or computer
- Bluetooth or ANT+ speed/ cadence sensor in case you have a “classic trainer” vs a “smart trainer”
Interestingly, TrainerRoad can be used to train outdoors as well. In order for this to work, you will need either a Garmin or Wahoo cyclo-computer.
The question that’s on top of everyone’s mind is, “how does this compare to Zwift?” – TrainerRoad is not as visually or socially exciting as Zwift, but it’s more focused on getting results, and if results are what you’re after it may end up being a better way to spend your monthly subscription.
To put it simply, the TrainerRoad interface basically involves following a line across a screen. The higher the line goes, the harder you’re working out. You can see the effort you’re supposed to produce as a sort of chart of green blocks, and you can see the actual power you’re putting out as a yellow line on top. If you’re wearing a heart rate monitor then there’s a red line showing that, and a white line for your cadence. That’s it: start at one end and see if you can make it to the other, which will be anywhere between 20 minutes and several hours away.
Many workouts can be used in conjunction with videos. Most have text cues that pop up on the screen, which I found quite helpful. Some of the cues are drills, such as standing up and pedaling for 15 seconds, while others are reminders to keep your shoulders down and loose.
You’ll be surprised as to how many times these prompts can correct your form.
Training plans are the essence of TrainerRoad and usually the best way to build up your training. TrainerRoad offers more than 1,000 workouts, which you can search for by duration, intensity or training focus (aerobic, sweet spot, tempo and so on).
You can pick them a la carte or follow one of the many training plans that are included in the price and that specify workouts for each day of the week. TrainerRoad splits up its plans into three phases, and the blocks of training range from 4 to 12 weeks depending on what you go for.
The recommended route for this within the app is sweet spot training, which mostly involves working at between 85% and 95% of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).
All the workouts are specific to your fitness level, since they are based on percentages of your FTP (functional threshold power). If you know this number, you just plug it into the software and away you go. If you don’t, you can do the provided FTP test to figure it out. From there, the workouts automatically tailor themselves to you.
If you prefer a more traditional base plan of lower-intensity work then that’s available too, as is higher-intensity base work for disciplines like a sprint triathlon. In the BASE PHASE, you’ll be concentrating on building up your base fitness.
In the BUILD PHASE, you’re starting to get a bit more specific. There are plans for short power, sustained power, various triathlon lengths and a general plan for anyone who’s not covered by any of the other plans.
At the SPECIALITY PHASE, it’s more broken down and granular. First, you select what kind of riding you’re doing – road, off-road, triathlon and enthusiast – and within that, you specialize further. For example, within Road, there are options for rolling road races, climbing road race, criterium, 40km time trial, and century ride. The focus of each is different: the century plan concentrates on muscular endurance for pushing hard for hours at a time, while the criterium plan is much more orientated to short bursts of higher power.
PLAN YOUR TRAINING
Prior planning of your training will help you stay motivated and set a secure goal that you look forward to achieving at the end of every month.
This planning is aided by the “Calendar”. The calendaring system in TrainerRoad is fairly new – it was added last year – and it makes the system a lot more effective. It’s a psychological thing – people are more likely to work towards a goal if they set a date to it and plan it out.
You can add a plan and specify which days you want to train on, and it’ll stick all the sessions in the calendar. Then you can move them around, add more, remove some if you won’t be able to do them, or swap them out for something that you think will suit your aims a bit better over your training period.
There you go! Quite exciting and TrainerRoad is quite a popular platform for Indian riders keen to improve their performance.
Worth your money? If you’re going to commit to working indoors/outdoors to get fitter then yes, certainly.
The minimum commitment is three sessions a week; the low-volume plans tend to be two-hour-long sessions, with a longer one each week too. If you’re intending to be doing less than that then some of the structure of the training ecosystem is going to be wasted, and you might be better off with a program where you pick and choose independently.
If you’re keen to improve and are prepared to invest a regular amount of time at it, TrainerRoad ticks a lot of boxes.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010