How to maximize your indoor cycling session

Turbo training is one of the best ways to improve fitness, technique and mental toughness for cycling. There are many sets you can do on the turbo trainer but it’s the preparation you do before your main set that makes all the difference. Here are some pointers to help make your next Turbo session the most effective yet.


Apart from the obvious Bike, Turbo Trainer and bike shoes, you’ll need:

  • Front wheel riser block.
  • Heart-rate monitor and a copy of your correct training zones gathered from your lactate test.
  • Carbohydrate drink: 6% solution of your chosen beverage (20 fl oz minimum for a 1 hr session)
  • Sweat towel: for obvious reasons
  • Large fan: pointed straight at you – also try to be in a well-ventilated room
  • Tunes for that extra motivation that music gives you
  • Power meter to truly nail the correct intensity
  • Cadence meter


Many people rush their warm-up or neglect to do one at all. It is vital that the proper amount of time be spent here to allow you to perform optimally when its time to work hard. I recommend that even for easy workouts that you spend at least 10 minutes slowly raising your heart rate and cadence towards your target heart-rate/ power level. For more intense sessions I suggest 20 minutes.

Next you should perform 2 types of turbo drill to ensure optimal muscle fiber recruitment and to improve your technique. Remember here that the focus is form and technique, not effort.

“One leg isolation drill” – with both feet in the pedals and a light gear, focus on one leg only for 30 seconds (the other leg contributes no effort). Concentrate on kicking a football across the top of the pedal stroke and scraping mud off the sole of your shoe at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Change focus to the other leg for 30 seconds then cycle with both legs smoothly for 1 minute – repeat x 5

“High cadence pickups” – Gearing should be light. Start to increase your cadence gradually so that after 30 seconds you are at the highest cadence possible without “bouncing” (ultimately look for 120-140 rpm+) then ease off – ride easy @ 90 rpm for 30 secs – then repeat x 5

You have now done 20-30 minutes warm-up and technique work and you should be totally ready to attack your main set with a vengeance!

Cool down

At the end of your main set you should gradually slow down and spin in easy gears to allow your heart rate to fall over a 10-minute period to near resting levels. Don’t skimp on this as it starts the recovery process, prevents blood pooling in your muscles and lowers lactate levels to near resting levels.

If you have done a hard session (60 mins+ @ Race Effort or above) then Cool-down is the time to drink your recovery drink containing a blend of carbohydrate and protein. The sooner you get this in after the hard work the more optimal your recovery will be. After easy sessions, sip on a 3% carbohydrate solution to help restore hydration levels and top up glycogen stores.