Effective Training Programs for Indoor Cycling

For most riders the winter season is a boring time with indoor training like spinning, home trainer or stationary bicycling. I think it is boring too, and therefore I have invented a couple of training programs and an e-book, which have proved to be very effective and short in time.

Indoor Cycling Saves You Time

All of these programs can be done without a heart rate monitor. The programs have in common that they are time-saving and specific for either aerobic or anaerobic metabolism.

For most riders the winter season is a boring time with indoor training like spinning, home trainer or stationary bicycling. I think it is boring too, and therefore I have invented a strong 12-week winter training program, which have proved to be very effective and short in time.

Also, you can get tips to reduce your training time AND ride much faster in my popular e-book: Time Effective Cycling Training

In fact these intervals are based on a large amount of scientific research.

The short version is: To increase or maintain your VO2 max it is optimal to train at a level close to your VO2 max. The recommendations are that you spend as much time as possible at your VO2 max in intervals and with active recovery.

So now you can keep your training short in time and still reach your goals. All you need is a bottle of plain water. Have fun!

Indoor cycling training programs

Aerobic power 1 (50 minutes)
15 minutes – Warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (4min high intensity + 2min low intensity)
5 minutes cool down

This program is designed to increase your maximum oxygen consumption. It gives you 20 minutes at a very high oxygen consumption, but it is not designed to be ridden to complete exhaustion.

Your VO2 max will gain improvements even at a more comfortable pace. It is, however, still important to push yourself very hard during the intervals. In the resting periods you should maintain an intensity at about 60% of VO2 max.

Aerobic power 2 (49 minutes)
15 minutes – warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
5 minutes cool down

This program is also designed to increase your maximum oxygen consumption. You work with a slightly higher intensity during the intervals than in the previous ‘Aerobic Power 1’ program. You will also gain increments in your anaerobic capacity.

You can expect results after only a couple of training sessions. This program really rocks.

Anaerobic power 1 (50 minutes)
15 minutes – warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (60sec. maximum intensity + 6 min. recovery)

This program is designed to increase your anaerobic capacity. During the intervals the body is exposed to enormous amounts of anaerobic metabolits. After only a few of these sessions your body will be better to work at an anaerobic enviroment. This skill is primarily used in competitions, where jumps and sprints demand anaerobic efforts. This art of training is very exhausting and therefore it should primarily be used for competition preparation.

85 comments… add one
  • Steffen

    Dear Sir,

    i like the indoor programs..but where is anaerobic power program Nr. 1?

    Thx for the hint.

    Sincerly
    Steffen

  • Sorry, there is only one anaerobic program right now. I will make another one later…

     Happy training! 🙂

  • Lars

    Why train anaerobi in the winter? You dont need it in the winter. You need it in the competitions in the spring/summer/autumn 🙂

  • As I wrote in the article: “This art of training is very exhausting and therefore it should primary be used for competition preparation.”

    Thus, if you don’t have competitions then save the anaerobic stuff for later.

  • Scott

    >Why train anaerobic in the winter? You dont need it in the winter. You need it in the competitions in the spring/summer/autumn

    In answer to that i beleive that anaerobic fitness/power/strength as with any other components should be maintained to a degree all year round. I also beleive this will minimisetotal loss in important areas whilst developing others

    Say your a beginner
    e.g –

    1)Steady state aerobic training low intensity 1-2 months maybe longer dependind upon total distancewishing to acheive – 55%65mhr worked out from

    2)Intro of aerobic intervals 2:2 increasing to 5-6:2(5-6 mins faster:2 mins very steady recovery) in months 2-4 ratio to begin with 55-75%mhr (maintaining some steady state pushing up speed, and at each new cycle pushing up distance rotating between the 2.)
    This will be building upto tempo runs aswell (High intensity runs sustained for around 20 mins maybe longer or shorter dependant again upon goals)

    3)Next would come some intros of intervals stepping up into anaerobic and pushing the lactate system- zones as demonstrated above, so runs would be be between 55-85% mhr.

    During this time there would still be the odd steady run maybe every 7-10 days,aerobic intervals with hill and speed variations but more concentration on the Hi Intensity Interval Training.

    So when it comes back to the start again there will still be some elements of anaerobic training involved.
    What does everyone else think?

    here’s another way..
    I have read that a good way to try and maintain all elements is to put it in an unconventional order

    eg
    1) aerobic -6 weeks
    2) anerobic -6 weeks
    3) tempo runs/aerobic intervals – 6 weeks
    4) anaerobic-6 weeks
    5) aerobic-6 weeks
    6) tempo runs/aerobic intervals – 6 weeks
    7) anaerobic -6 weeks
    8) aerobic -6 weeks( here we are back at the start again)

    This way we dont have longer than 6 weeks outside a certain method of training so we can minimise loss from other areas.
    The study i read was actually about rep ranges and it was something like

    12-15
    4-8
    8-12
    12-15 and so on

    I re adjusted it quickly just to try and illustrate my research into different articles.
    PEAK PERFORMANCE is very good.

    Scott01

  • Steve

    Can you please explain to me if dips/push ups should be done
    whilst spinning are they safe? will they cause injury?

    I am aware that they are contraindication of the spinning program
    but they are instructed and many gyms.

    Thank You
    Regards Steve

  • I can’t see what push ups can do good for you in a spinning class. If you are interested in building strength then do it before the spinning class. There are no good arguments why push ups should be done whilst spinning.

  • Hannah

    I am a winter sport athlete just finishing my season. I live in the mountains where it is still snowing. Which program is best for me to use to try to prepare for a race mid-June?

  • Steve

    Hi
    Thank you for your comment
    I did not say that I did dip/push ups. I have never done them or instructed them, and never will, but there are lots of people who do, do them. I would like to know if anyone has any info on accidents injurys etc? All the info I have says you should not do dips /push ups etc but I would like to know what injurys it can cause, I have a good idea myself but would welcome other oppinions.
    Thank You Regards Steve.

  • Steve

    Hi
    Is there anyone out there who can help re my question

    Can you please explain to me if dips/push ups should be done
    whilst spinning are they safe? will they cause injury?

    I am aware that they are contraindication of the spinning program
    but they are instructed and many gyms.

    Thank You
    Regards Steve

    Thank you for your comment
    I did not say that I did dip/push ups. I have never done them or instructed them, and never will, but there are lots of people who do, do them. I would like to know if anyone has any info on accidents injurys etc? All the info I have says you should not do dips /push ups etc but I would like to know what injurys it can cause, I have a good idea myself but would welcome other oppinions.
    Thank You Regards Steve.

  • Steve McClean

    Have started using these programs and they are helping.

    I wish to get better at hill climbs but there are only a few around and I struggle to get there and back then off to work. Is there any program to help with the indoor trainer to simulate conditions so a 10-30min climb becomes a more enjoyable task and be able to stay in touch with those mountain goats.

  • Ciaran

    Hey great site,
    I am looking to buy a staionary trainer and was wondering if anyone could give me advice especially your Jesper. I have been cycling for 5 months and love it and am looking to compete next season. I was going to spend about €150-200 on a trainer and was wondering should i get a turbo or rollers and what should i look out for?
    Any advice is greatly appreciated as this site has been very helpful for me!

    Ciaran

  • Kenneth

    You programs are the best

  • Kenneth

    Am @ south africa you change me into a jet whith your programs thanks sotho says ke a leboga will update you

  • Mick

    Word for Ciaran : I invested in a pair of rollers last year and I can honestly say they have been of great benefit. The beauty of these compared to a fixed turbo-trainer is that you have to bring your core muscles much more into play when using these, as you constanly need to keep your balance.

    This honestly does become second-nature after a while and you can soon concentrate on those intervals, while improving your pedal-stroke at the same time. Also, they are great for warm-ups prior to events and can be chucked in the car without taking up too much space (get the folding ones if you can).

    A must for winter-training.

  • Jillian

    I like doing the pushups in my classes and have never seen an injury. I have heard they occur if the instructor does not provide a strong guidance about recommended tension. However, I do think they are more effective for female spinners as I have heard it can be a challenging angle on the male anatomy.

  • Sean Gallick

    Hi Jasper
    I wonder if you can help. I teach spinning 5 days a week. I take my club out on the road on Saturdays and Sundays. We are now moving into a winter. My club has asked me to put together a program for a peroid of 4 months. Our racing season starts in September and our fist major event is in November 94.7(100kms) 28 000 people riding 2nd biggest in the world. To this end I need to work in a structure to build up their strength and endurance. I will be taking my club twice a week, tuesdays and thursdays for 1 hour in the mornings.
    could you give me your thoughts. Regards Sean Gallick

  • JP

    Thanks for the training protocol. But reading the comments reinforces my feeling that most people with an opinion on fitness are idiots.

  • Kevin

    I am exploring the teaching of an indoor cycle group to individuals with disabilities that would benefit from themed rides and greater visualisation in the form of perhaps DVD alongside music

    Any tips much appreciated

    Regards

    Kevin

  • Hannah

    Kevin, It all depends on what types of disabilities you’re talking about. Obviously amputees are going to be very different from Neurological disorders.

  • Johan

    I do about 2 hours in the spinning class 6 times a week at the moment as it is to cold, the same old story. I try to make it at interesting as possible. I warm up for 20 min and then start a 40min hight intensity (HR 155-165 with MHR 195), then take a 15 rest and do the same thing again with 15 min cool down 3 times a week with 2 easy days were I just pedal for 2-2.30min, with a few weight training session in there. I would like to increase my power output to 350watts for 2 hours, at the moment I am on 300 watts for 2 hours and weight about 70kg with 10% bodyfat. In a perfect world I would like to weight 67kg and push 350 watts for 2 hours. What am I doing wrong, please dont be shy with the anwser.

  • Hi,

    I would like to introduce you to the RealRyder. It is a new very effective indoor cycle that has for the first time allowed indoor cycling to feel almost exactly like riding your bike on the road.

    i would like to speak with you and see what you think about the RealRyder.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdErmg6syHw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL1bLk7XYYU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erzzpuj1Reo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD3A-A_Dwas
    http://www.realryder.com

  • marlin

    I’ve been told that riding indoors without a fan “artificially” elevates heart rate. Any thoughts on this?

  • Peter

    Hi! I am not a competitor, just a 45 y.o. without exercising for some 7 years due to feet ache etc. (I had my heart checked etc. before starting) I bought a Spin cycle sept 20 and started 20 min with low charge as it was all I endured. Then I found this wonderful page and started to do 1st aerobic program then 2nd and lately the Anaerobic program. To date I have been doing Anaerobic program you made and have some 3 weeks practicing it. Even thought it says “more proper por competition” I embraced it without any negative impact so far both in my knees etc nor my heart, as I feel more and more confident… I have 2 little questions: 1) Would this programa hurt me? and 2) What “following” program would you reccomend me ? Many thanks in advance and congrat on this page it is the best I have read. Greets from Mexico

  • karin

    hi. i am taking a spin class that is taught by a road cyclist. the class is 1.5 hours and maintains a pretty high intensity throughout – mostly long 85% intervals with short rests. what is this equivalent to for an outdoor ride? 2hr ride? 3hr ride? thanks!

  • Petr

    Hello
    I would like to ask you; at what target heart rate % of your max heart rate should you be riding at when you are riding “at high intensity” and “at very high intensity” during the aerobic workouts? Thanks, Petr

  • ClausSG

    Hi Jesper
    The indoor programs look good, but I wonder how often you would recommend to train ? Every day, every second day, or .., and mayby interchange between aeribic and anaerobic ?

    Best regards
    ClausSG from Denmark

  • Jose Luis

    Can u pls educate me on what means: high intensity, very high intensity and maximum intensity? Does this relates to the hear rate that I should be training?

  • Derek

    Hi All,

    What would you recommend for losing fat? I just bought a bike to get rid of the belly, I made many changes in my dieting habits and I am working out now every day. As I am living in CHina and running on the street is near to impossible I wanna start Spinning to lose fat and increase stamina.

    All tips are more then welcome.

    rgds,

    Derek

  • Derek,

    Consistency is the keyword to weight loss. Train regularly and you will see the results in a couple of months.

    Jesper

  • Reg

    Hi
    I am 51 years old and love my riding BUT when I start riding hard my gluts hurt heaps My phiso thinks I am not using them.What can I do to get them working again?
    Reg

  • Janes Rix

    Should I stand on the pedals at all, if I am training indoors

  • Grant Duke

    Hi Folks,

    Does anyone know of indoor cycling equivalent of row pro?
    Basicaly I’m looking for an indoor machine for winter that will allow me to hook up to a PC and race similar to that of the row pro system that indoor rowers have.

    thanks

  • Good day to all you people i don’t know. From what i hear, most people find that training indoors on a turbo trainer boring. Not for me it ain’t. In fact i love it. Outdoors in doors love it. Just a few days ago i cycled 150 miles non stop on my turbo trainer in eight hours at an average cadence of 80 rpm. 38400 revs in eight hours. Love it. No fan just music for company. I have ridden 100 miles on a turbo trainer 10 times this year plus another 120mile ride. I have cycled 100 miles two days running on a turbo trainer. Good cardio workout for me any how. Of course i have cycled several 100 plus milers on the road this year. The equipment i use INDOORS an 18 year old raleigh router and a 15 year old elite turbo trainer WHEN the weather is poor jump on your turbo trainer and do a 100 miler. Not ALL the time on Occasion. Just when the weather is to poor to train outdoors. Usually push a 40 front 15 rear sprocket. Out of the saddle for a minute every five. Loads of energy bars at hand, bananas and of course water and maximuscle viper. Minimum heart rate 35 maximum 201. ALL you need is fitness and focus. GOOD LUCK.

  • I’ m french and I use your programs
    Thanks

  • I do prefer to do pushups in spin class and have never been injured, nor been in a class that did pushups and had an injury. I like the feeling of my arms burning as well as my legs during my workout! I think it’s beneficial!

  • christian

    Hi,

    thanks for this website…

    I have a questions:
    What are the pros and cons of the two aerobic programs?
    4min versus 40sec intervals with different quantity?
    Thnx&cheers
    Christian

  • mayday

    Hi,
    I’m a beginner to training programs. I’ve just done my own cycling routines for a while at home but would like to start programs like the ones listed here. I have just come across this page and am going to begin following Aerobic Power 1 & 2 immediately. I have one question, (which may be a silly question) What exactly is meant by recovery? Is it a medium intensity or maybe just a comfortable pace? I would have thought it was low intensity but in the Power 2 program the low intensity is followed by the recovery. Please help as i want to follow the programs properly. Thank you

  • Hi
    I don’t know how Paul manages 8 hours on an indoor trainer 90 minutes is enough for me.
    The other day at the gym I intended doing a 90 minute session and my battery died on my mp3 after 30 minutes.
    The remaining 60 minutes were torture.
    I am always on the look out for different routines to try. I have created my own, but find I am trying to re-invent the wheel.
    I have been spinning recently with some mp3 downloads (just like being in a class) which I enjoy and joined my first spinning class last week which was also good.

    I doubt I will ever do (or indeed want to do) 8 hours on an indoor trainer, but fair play to anyone who does.

    Keep Moving
    Dave Whitworth

  • Michi

    Hey, I was wondering if someone can give me advice. I do spinning on a bike 5 days a week for 45 mins and stay on level 10 and drop to 8,7,6, and go back up to 10. I push myself and do high speed and low speed intervals. Then do your normal weights for arms and sit ups. I was wondering if the cardio I’m doing is good and is effective for weight loss. Thank you.

  • Michi
    In my experience I find the best way for weight loss is shorter more intense sessions like the ones you are doing but changing the routine to incorporate aerobic, anaerobic, leg power and throw in some endurance sessions. So, guessing at your resistance levels being moderate to hard you would do a aerobic session with intervals at level 6/7. A anaerobic session with intervals at levels 10/11 and a leg power session going up to your maximum resistance. For the endurance session you need to do at least 90 minutes. I usually incorporate this philosophy in my weight training changing from one week medium weights, one week heavy weights and one week at weights I can only lift for 8 reps.
    Of course everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you, but there is no harm in trying.
    If you are doing regular exercise at intense levels and not losing weight you may have to review your diet.
    Try keeping a count of how many calories you eat in a week and how many you burn off. It will give you an idea if you need to cut down.
    For me this is easy. I just need to hibernate at weekends and the weight would drop off.

    Keep Moving
    Dave Whitworth

  • Michi

    Dear Dave Whitworth,
    Thanks soo much for the advice. This is only my second week of working out, I’ve noticed I have toned up but no weight loss yet. Is that normal? my jeans are looser on me but when i get on the scale still the same weight. I try to eat healthy; but still eat carbs and sugars…. but in moderation and I always watch what I eat and how much I eat. I can not count calories…. just try to watch what I eat and sometimes have those horrible cravings. Any more ideas ??
    keep in touch.. Michi

  • Michi
    I wouldn’t worry too much about your weight. Ditch the scales and use the mirror. I would definately give counting calories a go just for a week. You will get an idea of just how good or bad your diet is and can act accordingly.
    If you have only been training for 2 weeks and already have loose jeans you should be ok. Don’t forget, muscle weighs more than fat so like I said don’t worry too much about your weight.
    For more info take a look around this site and follow the link in my name to my site where I have a few articles which might help you.

    Keep Moving
    Dave W

  • Michi

    Thanks Dave so much for your advice! I’ll keep you posted and hopefully within this month will loose more weight! I actually weighed myself and lost two pounds! I will TRY to keep a diet and watch what I eat and how much.. but I cant promise anything! ALL I know is that I toned up! no more scale for me!! dont want to get to crazy with number in weight! thanks again…

    keep in touch!~ Michi

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