If you’ve been put off indoor cycling by the idea of churning out miles in a cold draughty garage while staring at a wall, maybe it’s time for a rethink.
Indoor cycling can be daunting at first but its many benefits make for a highly efficient addition to most fitness regimes, whether you’re just getting started or you want to train like the pros.
Learning anything new as an adult takes a bit of time and effort. So coming at it with an open mind and asking yourself a few questions before you decide how to cycle indoors will put you in a much better position to get going. Finding the best workouts for you, comparing set ups like Zwift v Rouvy and seeking out targeted advice like indoor cycling tips for women can also boost beginner confidence.
5 benefits of cycling indoors
Here are 5 big benefits of indoor bike training, with advice from indoor cycling aficionados:
Efficiency and convenience
Indoor cycling is efficient and convenient – but that needn’t mean boring. Busy lives mean big gains in terms of time and cardiovascular fitness when your set up is right at home. Whether you’re looking to mimic the vibe of your regular gym spin class or the weather is grim, an indoor set up will minimise prep time sorting out a bike or route- and maximise workout time.
You’ll also see big improvements in a relatively short time compared with riding outside.
It’s seriously social…really
If you’re used to the community vibe of the gym, training at home on your own can be quite hard to get your head around. But virtual cycling apps and training platforms have brought a new social, community element to indoor cycling. The gamification of various apps has brought indoor training to life.
Many platforms offer guided workouts, according to how much time you’ve got to spare. You simply turn up and are guided through step by step. It gives you all the motivation of having an instructor-led class, with the convenience of being able to jump on the bike and workout from home.
If it’s the camaraderie of the gym you’re worried about missing, some indoor cycling apps offer group rides and workouts with an in-app chat function so riders can encourage each other. With e-racing growing in popularity, you’ll also find plenty of virtual teams you can join – with many communicating with each other via apps such as Discord during group rides or races so you get that community feel.
Beat the weather and boost your brain
It’s easy to plateau in the gym or lose your mojo to cycle outside as the seasons change. Indoor cycling offers a new challenge in relative comfort, not to mention the safety benefits of swerving darker evenings, bad weather and the traffic, potholes and red lights of the real world.
Getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new is a cornerstone to ageing well and a change in your fitness routine could be as good for your brain as much as your body.
Ride hassle-free and focus on technique
Indoor cycling removes everyday outdoor interruptions, leaving you free to focus solely on your workout.
Indoors you can focus better on technique such as pedal stroke in a controlled environment. You can set specific training goals, monitor and control your power, adjust the resistance to make the most of your session without having to worry about distractions.
Combine this with the technology inside many training apps, smart trainers and bikes means you can expect as close to a lab experience as possible at home.
Enjoy flexibility and realism
The combination of feeling more like you’re on the outdoor bike and being able to ride at any time is a big draw. This is a far cry from a decade ago when loud, wheel-based trainers in the garage were the preserve of the gnarly MAMIL.
One of the many joys of outdoor cycling is the freedom to escape and explore. But on some platforms you can ride routes across the globe, with all abilities, at your own pace, in places you’d never get to see in real life.
The options can seem endless and each platform has its own tribe of followers. Some of the major players in the cycling-specific virtual world include Wahoo X, Zwift and Rouvy, with the biggest distinction being the environment you ride in.
- Zwift: Avatar-led virtual reality bike-gaming with a big community element and a comprehensive library of workouts and training plans. The birthplace of virtual racing and beloved by professional cyclists and triathletes.
- Wahoo X: Rising major contender. Boosted by takeovers including Sufferfest and Road Grand Tours. Pioneering virtual gravel rides, in-game chat and integration with outdoor bike systems
- Rouvy: Real time play time. Based on real world locations over virtual world riding. With a filmic vibe you can ride, race or workout in 3 million miles of global routes.
Whether you’re a gym junkie, outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking a new challenge, the indoor bike workout brings the outside in, boosts your fitness momentum and allows you to escape into a new adventure.
Everyone can reap rewards from indoor cycling whether you’re a gym junkie, outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking a fresh fitness challenge.
Taking the time to learn how to cycle indoors and trying out popular apps like Zwift certainly helps bring some of the best bits of outdoor cycling inside.
From there, you can fast-track your fitness, take expert inspiration on the best Zwift routes and workouts and cycle with confidence into this new world of weatherproof, realistic riding.