The new season is approaching – that’s for sure. Therefore, it is time to slowly, but surely get yourself prepared for it: let the winter training begin!
When thinking of training in winter many think of cold temperatures, early dawn and often even wet conditions. It is known that an indoor trainer provides the opportunity to train regardless of external influences, but it does not exactly increase motivation. Hours of indoor bike training often come with many negative side effects: the TV program is nerve-racking, the DVD collection – depending on its size – is running out of new stuff and has to be re-watched – all in all not a really great situation.
Stop complaining and start indoor riding! – there is no training tool for cyclists and triathletes that can be used as effectively and at such top quality as an indoor bike trainer. In order to illustrate this our “Science with STAPS“ series today is dedicated to an exemplary indoor session and shows its efficiency:
Training goal: Increasing the maximum oxygen intake (VO2max)
Test person: STAPS employee
Analysis: Basic endurance session vs. intensive IE session ("intermitted exercise")
Maximum oxygen intake is one of the most important physiological parameters and for us – especially when training volumes are limited – one of the first things we want to adjust in winter training. An appropriate means of training is the so-called “intermitted exercise” (IE) that is very efficient. When doing IE training the athlete can take advantage of the characteristics of oxygen intake: kinetics of VO2 are rather sluggish – similar to e.g. the heart rate. IE training therefore is designed in a way that it always takes up one minute and consists of an interval phase (30-40s, @100% of VO2max) and a pause phase (approx. 20-30s, @basic endurance 1).
These intervals are done approx. 6-10 times in a row. The big advantage of this training is that the pauses are short enough to keep the sluggish oxygen intake almost steady (i.e. high) for the whole duration of the work-out. Contentwise we are therefore talking about 6-10 x 30-40s at VO2max, for oxygen intake this equals, however, 6-10 minutes in VO2max zone.
Our employee compared a one-hour basic endurance 1 session with an IE session (30 s interval / 30 s pause). Consistent with the training sessions we recorded power [watts], heart rate [1/min] and, of course, oxygen intake [ml/min]:
He did the basic endurance session at an average of 140 watts for exactly 60 minutes and had an average VO2 of 2,161 ml/min. This means an O2 amount of 129 liters.
The IE session consisted of a 10 minute warm-up at basic endurance level 1, followed by 2x10x IE (30/30) with short pauses and a cool-down. The result: the average power was at 185 watts, VO2 on average at 2,744 ml/min which means an O2 amount of 120 liters – within 44 minutes of training. The athlete therefore processed almost the same amount of oxygen at 15 minutes less training time, i.e. he saved 25% of training time. In other words: with IE sessions more oxygen can be pumped through the body and thereby make the VO2max adapt very effectively!
Stop pedaling is not an option!
Indoor bike training also offers an advantage over training “on the road“ when it comes to adhering to the respective training zones or when it comes to pedaling in general. When you ride outdoors, you have to stop at traffic lights and cross roads, the training zone cannot be adhered to a.s.o. Many situations in which you do not pedal – and therefore do not train!
The adjacent pictures illustrate the frequency distribution of power during a three-hour session outdoors and indoors. It is remarkable that the athlete doesn’t pedal for a few minutes (<3 minutes) only on the indoor trainer while the “pedaling-free“ (<20 watts) time outdoors amounts to approx. 25 minutes, the added up time below basic endurance level 1 probably amounts to more than 30 minutes. One sixth of the whole training session is therefore lost outdoors!
Most athletes will probably agree that especially higher volumes are more attractive when ridden outdoors. There are, however, enough time slots in which efficient and successful training can be done in 30 to 45 minutes indoors.
It is the golden mean that combines all the advantages!