Former world hour record holder, UCI tormentor and legendary marmalade sandwich consumer Graham Obree, once said that the first item he’d rescue in a house fire would be his turbo trainer.
Such affection for what ostensibly is a torture device for body and soul is hard to understand. Once you’ve bolted your bike to it, you remove all the enjoyable aspects of cycling and leave yourself just with pain, suffering and, literally, a road to nowhere.
However, what Mr Obree understood was that, in terms of time-efficient training, objectively measuring progress and pure convenience, the turbo (or rollers) is impossible to beat.
The key to getting the most out of your turbo is knowing what sessions to do on it. The sessions to definitely not do are your long endurance rides. We’ve all heard tales of triathletes who’ve ridden through the original Star Wars trilogy or who have logged all of their winter miles in their basement. Don’t do it. Get some decent winter kit, fit some mudguards or hit the trails on a mountain bike. Your bike-handling skills and your sanity will be far better for it come the spring.
The sessions to do on your turbo are structured interval workouts. Without junctions, traffic and self-preservation to worry about, you can focus 100% on holding the right intensity for the right amount of time. Time is broken into smaller chunks, so the workouts tend to be more digestible and it’s easier to stay motivated.
Should you be doing higher-intensity workouts during the winter though? Surely winter training is all about aerobic base work? Well, if you’re a full-time athlete who can train for 25-30hrs a week, laying down a pure aerobic base is definitely worthwhile.
However, if you’re limited by work, family and the real world to 10-15hrs per week or less, just going slow isn’t training smart. Get your longer steadier sessions in at the weekend but, during the working week, your best bet is shorter, more intense hits. This is when the turbo is king and, as long as you factor in enough recovery and don’t overcook the frequency, will definitely optimise your limited training time.
(Images: Jonny Gawler)
For lots more turbo trainer sessions head to out Training page