How do you get the most out of your trainer?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How do you get the most out of your trainer?

    I will be the first to admit that I absolutely loathe trainers. In fact, I don't even own one (at this exact minute anyways). This winter has been absolutely abysmal, and super awesome me dropped the $180 for Mohican 100 mile. The terrible weather here combined with me boycotting a trainer by drinking beer instead of training has manifest itself in the form of an extra 20lbs of winter weight.

    I buckled down and ordered a set of Kinetic rollers in an attempt to finish the winter season strong, hopefully it pays off. My question is what kind of workouts should I really be doing on these things? The trainer I had previously, I just mindlessly pedaled until I was ready to cry and then grumpily went and sat on the couch to stew about how much I hate being inside after I was done...

    There has to be interval sets or something that would make this more interesting. A program I could find maybe? Ill take any help or advice I can get. I plan to hit these rollers with better attitude than I had previously, so hopefully that helps.

    A couple quick notes: I've put on beer weight but wouldn't say I'm massively out of shape. I would happily go throw down 50 miles on my gravel bike tomorrow if the weather allowed, possibly more. I also rarely do sprint or interval training, so if I could utilize these rollers as a way to learn that aspect of training that would be awesome. I've traditionally just ridden a ton of miles every year as my training, but with life, work and a pregnant wife its harder to get out for 30+ mile rides every other day.

  2. #2
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    TrainerRoad.com really does it for me. I admit to being a bit geeky and when it comes to indoor training, this company does a great job convincing me that there is an optimal way to improve fitness with a science basis. I don't think it's quite as entertaining as Zwift but Trainer road has me convinced their plans are the best anything else is shortchanging yourself.
    I just got done doing 90 minutes of sweet spot and I'm stoked!

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  3. #3
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    Zwift racing is pretty addictive and makes a hard hour on the trainer go by in a hurry. It's basically a sweet spot to threshold workout with surges.

    I'll also do a 2 hour Zwift group "endurance pace" ride on wednesdays. There is no way I could ever do 2 hours on the trainer without Zwift. There is continuous discussion in the group chat and the dynamic of riding in a "virtual" group is more fun than you would think. Not as good as a group ride outside, but worth the price of admission for me.

  4. #4
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    Trainerroad!! Mind blowing the difference it has made for me. Pick a training plan and it takes all the guess work out of it. But in a race like Mohican sweetspot/Threshold work is going to be the best bang for your buck.
    Last edited by Twinsdad1979; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:40 AM. Reason: Spelling

  5. #5
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    In a similar situation as OP + don’t want to waste $ on worthless Zwify. Found I can mentally max out at five 2 hour sessions per week. Use interval timer app with my own custom workouts + app links with iPhone playlist for continuous 🎶 . Alternate days using Altitude Sim Mask 😷 at 16k. I hate riding inside , but with the global cooling going on....WTF 😡 can you do?

  6. #6
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    I would have suggested a smart trainer over rollers. With a smart trainer you can zone out while doing the workout and have all the intensity controlled for you. With the rollers you will have to be much more engaged (balance, shifting, intensity) and it will be more difficult to perform high intensity intervals. If you are looking to optimize your training use TrainerRoad. If you’re looking for entertainment and engagement with a social aspect then use Zwift. You can actually use both apps together, but now you’re introducing more complexity with your set up.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MI-XC View Post
    I would have suggested a smart trainer over rollers. With a smart trainer you can zone out while doing the workout and have all the intensity controlled for you. With the rollers you will have to be much more engaged (balance, shifting, intensity) and it will be more difficult to perform high intensity intervals. If you are looking to optimize your training use TrainerRoad. If you’re looking for entertainment and engagement with a social aspect then use Zwift. You can actually use both apps together, but now you’re introducing more complexity with your set up.
    Agreed 100%
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  8. #8
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    Another vote for trainer road. Note that rollers should be fine. One of the head coach guys at trainerroad uses rollers exclusively, so the program can be done with them.

    Something that hasn't been mentioned yet, is that all of the platforms mentioned so far are "power based". If you have a power meter on your bike then, you're good to go. If not, at a minimum, you'll need to get a wheel speed sensor that can broadcast Bluetooth smart. Cadence is helpful as well. Something like the Wahoo Blue S/C will do the job. There are other options as well. Once you have that, you can use it along with knowing your roller model to setup "virtual power" and get going from there.

  9. #9
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    Trainerroad wins hands down. No nonsense structured workouts. Base > Build > Specialty plans that work.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MI-XC View Post
    I would have suggested a smart trainer over rollers. With a smart trainer you can zone out while doing the workout and have all the intensity controlled for you. With the rollers you will have to be much more engaged (balance, shifting, intensity) and it will be more difficult to perform high intensity intervals. If you are looking to optimize your training use TrainerRoad. If you’re looking for entertainment and engagement with a social aspect then use Zwift. You can actually use both apps together, but now you’re introducing more complexity with your set up.
    I actually got the rollers because the "zoning out" was what I hated about a regular trainer. Rollers are a bit more engaging plus they work your core.

    Im going to look into TrainerRoad, though buying a power meter and paying a monthly subscription is going to be a hard sell for riding indoors. These things are for when I absolutely can't go outside (basically when there's precipitation). Im not sure I'll use them with enough consistency to justify paying for more parts and subscriptions.

    I was really hoping for a written layout of good time usage.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hey_poolboy View Post
    Trainerroad wins hands down. No nonsense structured workouts. Base > Build > Specialty plans that work.
    I think you are correct if your desire is to improve performance and win races. However, for those who just want some indoor exercise to stay in shape without going crazy, Zwift, Bkool, Rouvy do the AR thing pretty well and the gamification seems to make it more enjoyable.

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  12. #12
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    Are you looking at a heart rate or do you have access to power? Some things to consider when your spending time on a trainer or rollers is to do intervals that match your riding style or maybe where you are weakest...If you like riding long distance do some 3x20 min sweetspot intervals or if you are weak at 1-3 min power surges do some Vo2 Max intervals 8x3min efforts to help you get stronger there. Just depends on goals or weakness’s on where you should spend your time on rollers or a trainer. That will help the time pass and you will see a benefit from it on the road or dirt.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinsdad1979 View Post
    Are you looking at a heart rate or do you have access to power? Some things to consider when your spending time on a trainer or rollers is to do intervals that match your riding style or maybe where you are weakest...If you like riding long distance do some 3x20 min sweetspot intervals or if you are weak at 1-3 min power surges do some Vo2 Max intervals 8x3min efforts to help you get stronger there. Just depends on goals or weakness’s on where you should spend your time on rollers or a trainer. That will help the time pass and you will see a benefit from it on the road or dirt.
    Thanks for this. I actually did the 3x20 you recommended this evening, at a pretty good effort. If im being honest, too much data really takes the fun out of riding for me personally so I don't use heart or power meters. I track mileage, climbing and average speed on a Garmin 520 and that's perfect for me. The recommendations you gave are exactly what I'm looking for, something beneficial other than sitting on the couch when its snowing or raining.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MI-XC View Post
    I would have suggested a smart trainer over rollers. With a smart trainer you can zone out while doing the workout and have all the intensity controlled for you. With the rollers you will have to be much more engaged (balance, shifting, intensity) and it will be more difficult to perform high intensity intervals. If you are looking to optimize your training use TrainerRoad. If you’re looking for entertainment and engagement with a social aspect then use Zwift. You can actually use both apps together, but now you’re introducing more complexity with your set up.
    Another option is rollers with smart resistance. Inside Ride - E-Motion Rollers
    Not cheap, but similar cost to the nice smart trainers and a much better riding experience in my opinion. I'm a long time user of their rollers and just got the smart resistance version late last year. You can rock the bike, climb out of the saddle, sprint, etc. and it's pretty much like riding on the road. I just don't care for stationary trainers, my butt gets sore on them in under an hour and don't like that the bike is locked in position. You are right that you can't zone out too much on rollers, but it's pretty hard to crash on them. The hardest part is when you are coming up on turns in Zwift and you're head is thinking "turn!" , but that's a bad idea.

  15. #15
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    Trainerroad (or any trainer program really) doesn't require a power meter or smart trainer, they have a virtual power option where it uses cadence and wheel speed to calculate power. Just need a $20-30 sensor like a Wahoo blue SC or similar.

    https://www.trainerroad.com/virtual-power

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by cal_len1 View Post
    Trainerroad (or any trainer program really) doesn't require a power meter or smart trainer, they have a virtual power option where it uses cadence and wheel speed to calculate power. Just need a $20-30 sensor like a Wahoo blue SC or similar.

    https://www.trainerroad.com/virtual-power
    Doesn't look like rollers are a supported trainer for that sensor. The only ones listed under Kurt Kinetic are traditional locked wheel trainers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    Doesn't look like rollers are a supported trainer for that sensor. The only ones listed under Kurt Kinetic are traditional locked wheel trainers.
    I'd send them an email, they may have a generic roller profile, or there is a different trainer's curve which is close enough. With virtual power, all you need is everything to stay the same relatively. As long as it does that you will still get a good workout. I used the "generic mag trainer" option in Sufferfest for several years.. It just means that the absolute power output number isn't as exact.

  18. #18
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    I have used my Kinetic Road Machine with the InRide speed sensor with TrainerRoad using "virtual power" for the last several years with very good results. This year I decided to give rollers a shot, I have used rollers for years but never for anything other than cadence work and warming up. I purchased the Elite Quick Motion rollers and truly love them! I don't think I will ever go back to a regular trainer. I like having to focus and actually ride, I do admit that I am probably giving up some watts but think as a mountain biker (as opposed to a road rider) it will develop my ability to put power down even when the trails are rough.

    One thing with the Elite Quick Motion rollers is I had trouble with the virtual power calibration with TrainerRoad. I used the Misuro B+ speed sensor, put the correct wheel circumference and adjusted the Misuro blink code. I could never get it close. So I ended up buying a Quarq. Now with a PM and the adjustable resistance on the rollers I feel like I am getting the best training indoors I have ever had.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    I actually got the rollers because the "zoning out" was what I hated about a regular trainer. Rollers are a bit more engaging plus they work your core.
    I use rollers myself simply to make it more engaging. At the time, I couldn't afford a smart trainer anyhow, so admittedly I haven't tried that koolaid yet. Hard intervals aren't a challenge. The only "problem" I have with rollers is that you can't do hard out-of-the-saddle sprints. Of course, if I'm trying to do max effort intervals, I'm definitely NOT doing that this time of year. Tempo and steady state intervals at this point, and by the time I need to be doing 12x30s max effort intervals the weather is nice enough I can get outside and bang that out on the road.

    Bonus, rollers have improved my bike handling.

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