Turbo training is exceptionally effective and will help keep you fit during winter when the weather is too bad and the days become shorter. Here's everything you need to know and our pick of the best.
What is a turbo trainer?
Turbo trainers are quite simply a device that enables you to ride your bike, stationary, indoors. As such they have become the de facto training equipment for the winter months and for warming up ahead of a race. Turbo trainers, or turbos as they are commonly known, clamp around the quick release skewer of a bike’s rear wheel suspending it in an A-frame.
This frame positions the rear tyre so that it sits on a roller, as you pedal and spin your rear wheel the roller turns too. A resistance unit is attached to the roller and uses air, fluid or magnetic means to vary resistance against which you are pedaling.
Turbo trainers are usually classified by the method used in the resistance unit. Some will automatically get harder as you pedal faster, others are adjusted manually, typically by a lever that clamps to the handlebars. See below for more on the different types of turbos.
Why use a turbo trainer?
Winter is often seen as turbo time, as icy conditions mixed with rain, wind and generally unpredictable conditions makes heading out on long rides no fun. Choosing to turbo is a safer and more time efficient riding option.
Avoiding bad weather is a good enough reason to use a turbo, but the real benefit is to use it as an effective method of training, as you can work on any specific fitness component and focus a training session to the second. This is why many elite riders use them year round focusing their sessions and supplementing their road miles.
Turbo trainers also allow for intense efforts to be completed without worrying about traffic, road junctions or undulating terrain that doesn’t allow for constant, steady state efforts. Whether a speedy sprint session or a longer interval pyramid there’s a specific session for whatever it is you’re looking to improve.
Similarly it’s great for those tight of time, or training after work in the winter when it’s too dark to head out on the road. Just a 30 minute blast on the turbo every other day before or after work can have major benefits on your overall fitness levels. With research showing the effectiveness of high intensity, short interval training on cardiovascular fitness it’ll really benefit those with little time to ride.
Our favourite trainer at the moment is the