Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

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handful
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Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby handful » Tue Mar 05, 2013 23:31 pm

I realise this will vary according to the effort put in but in general, do people consider their turbo training as being a true boost to their fitness or is it more a case of being better than nothing and fitness levels are just better than they would have been with less riding? Is it always better for fitness to do a 'proper' ride whenever possible.

I ask because I had my first outdoor ride (mtb) since doing about 14 hours of Trainerroad sessions over the last 4 or 5 weeks and found I was really struggling on the climbs, more so than I hoped. I'm getting on a bit (50) and not particularly strong on hills anyway but I was hoping for some payback for the effort I have been putting in.I'm not expecting miracles by the way, just a little disappointed that I felt the pain that I did!!
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FatTed
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby FatTed » Wed Mar 06, 2013 00:59 am

I find the trainer better for training, the sessions can be more focused. No traffic lights cars or pedestrians rain or snow.
I don't have to worry about getting exhausted and still be 50 K from home. The bike trainer (leMond revolution) has improved my road cycling especially since I increased the number of sessions per week. I now train on the trainer and just ride my bike on the road for fun, I never Race any one but myself.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby twotyred » Wed Mar 06, 2013 01:06 am

just a little disappointed that I felt the pain that I did!!


Hope you mean discomfort/suffering. If its causing you pain stop doing it.

3 hours a week training is not that much so you may be expecting too much. I'm about your age and I consider 6 hours a week the minimum to stay in shape.

However if you are doing 15 hours a week then you are probably knackered!

I think the turbo can be a useful addition or partial replacement to training outdoors e.g. Bradley Wiggins used it to stay in shape for the Vuelta in 2011 after he broke his collar bone in the TdF

Myself I use it through the week in winter in addition to weekend rides and consider it to be alot better than nothing.

See if you can increase the amount of training you are doing and get outside now the weather is better. Maybe also consider doing one of the trainer road training plans to give yourself some structure.

adambutterwick
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby adambutterwick » Wed Mar 06, 2013 01:13 am

You can do specialised training on a turbo that you just can't do in real life; e.g. pedalling with one foot to perfect your pedalling motion and equalise leg strength left/right. Interval sessions are easier too because they can't be interrupted. I bought a trainer to use while the weather was crappy but I found it no fun compared to road cycling so I just treated it like a gym session and did specific workouts as opposed to just base miles. It helped over the winter, my fitness didn't fall to pieces but really I've found no substitute for the real thing.

So in conclusion, I'd say IME turbo sessions are better than sitting around doing nothing and great for improving technique, but there's no replacement for going out and doing it for real. If you want to improve your climbing I found this article very helpful:

http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/articl ... tar-12092/

handful
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby handful » Wed Mar 06, 2013 08:09 am

twotyred wrote:
just a little disappointed that I felt the pain that I did!!


Hope you mean discomfort/suffering. If its causing you pain stop doing it.

3 hours a week training is not that much so you may be expecting too much. I'm about your age and I consider 6 hours a week the minimum to stay in shape.

However if you are doing 15 hours a week then you are probably knackered!

I think the turbo can be a useful addition or partial replacement to training outdoors e.g. Bradley Wiggins used it to stay in shape for the Vuelta in 2011 after he broke his collar bone in the TdF

Myself I use it through the week in winter in addition to weekend rides and consider it to be alot better than nothing.

See if you can increase the amount of training you are doing and get outside now the weather is better. Maybe also consider doing one of the trainer road training plans to give yourself some structure.


Pain is the wrong word, I've been doing too many Sufferfests!! I did reach what I consider to be my MHR though of 184. It's hard to judge on the ride I was doing though, like I said it was on my mtb and it was at Cwmcarn which is renowned as being a pretty tough and technical climb and it's technique that I'm lacking sometimes as well as fitness!

I'm going to get out on the road over the next couple of weeks and see how that feels.

Thanks for the other advice guys, much appreciated, I guess I will try and up the time to double what I'm doing although I will find that tough, I work pretty long hours. Twotyred, I have been do the Intermediate Base Plan on TR interspersed with Sufferfests because I find some of the base plans not as intense as I feel I can do. I tend to think that the higher the TSS of the workout the quicker I'll improve and limit the amount of time I need to spend on the turbo. :lol:

My efforts so far! http://www.trainerroad.com/career/chricycle147
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby Imposter » Wed Mar 06, 2013 08:17 am

adambutterwick wrote:You can do specialised training on a turbo that you just can't do in real life; e.g. pedalling with one foot to perfect your pedalling motion and equalise leg strength left/right.


Both of those are fairly worthless, IMO. Turbos, in general, are a 'training aid' - not a substitute for 'real riding', whatever that is.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby MarkP80 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 08:57 am

Circumstances have prevented me from going out on the road since last September. Since that time I've been following the plans on TrainerRoad fairly strictly, in that time I've seen a significant increase in FTP. I finally got out for a short ride last weekend and personally 'felt' a lot quicker.
One thing I know is that a) without something like TrainerRoad, my turbo training would have been nowhere near as effective (I just know I wouldn't have pushed myself to the same extent), and b) I also know I wouldn't have pushed myself to the same extent out on the road either.
do people consider their turbo training as being a true boost to their fitness or is it more a case of being better than nothing

- so yes, personally I do think turbo training has boosted my fitness. YMMV.

just a little disappointed that I felt the pain that I did!!

- You always feel that - but did you go faster!

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby saprkzz » Wed Mar 06, 2013 09:05 am

I have used the Turbo to go alongside my gym training over the cold winter nights. I didnt risk taking the road bike out when it was bad, so the Turbo has allowed me to keep doing something.

I also use it for interval sessions (15 x 2mins) which I find very hard to do on the road due to traffic, roundabout etc etc. I would say its helped to keep fitness over the winter and has helped towards creating a good base fitness, but as mentioned here by others miles out are much better.

And also dont be dissappointed not doing so well on the MTB, i find the two disciplines are so different!! I used to race MTB''s, converted to the road and now cant keep up with the MTB lot in the club!

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby GiantMike » Wed Mar 06, 2013 09:23 am

I improved my power over the winter doing very little other than turbo sessions. But, the turbo is only as good as the quality of the training you're doing on it. I found it good for targetted training in certain power zones but terribly boring for anything else.

When I got back on the road it felt weird at first. You need time to re-adapt if you have done a lot of turbo work (in my experience).
Last edited by GiantMike on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby twotyred » Wed Mar 06, 2013 09:43 am

Twotyred, I have been do the Intermediate Base Plan on TR interspersed with Sufferfests because I find some of the base plans not as intense as I feel I can do. I tend to think that the higher the TSS of the workout the quicker I'll improve and limit the amount of time I need to spend on the turbo.


I agree that for the for time limited training keep the intensity up. For three hours a week I'd be majoring on threshold and VO2 max. If you've got a reasonably accurate FTP in Trainerroad then the Sufferfests will give a you a good hard workout. I also can't stand to spend more than about an hour on the turbo so tend to keep the sessions short and intense

You may be being too hard in your judgement of your performance. Could be that the conditions at Cwn Carn were harder than usual that day. Do you have a more accurate way of measuring your performance like doing an FTP test on the turbo or timing yourself up a local road climb?

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby handful » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:13 am

I'm due to do another 20 minute test soon, I think my FTP is right for the way my turbo is set up /tyre pressures etc or at least it's consistent and directional. You may be right about the conditions but also I was rusty and struggled hauling my my over roots and rocks on what is a pretty tough climb anyway! I'm on holiday today as well and am contemplating going out for a quick blast on the road bike on a loop I know well to see how that goes. A good sign is that I'm not stiff from my exertions yesterday and I think I would have been without the turbo!

Thanks for the comments btw, it's appreciated.
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby jotko » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:20 pm

I did a lot of turbo training through Jan/Feb, including the Tour of Sufferlandria. Just started riding my 23 mile round trip to work again and I can safely say the winter training has made a massive difference - I am significantly quicker and stronger than I was at the end of the Summer. I am using the same bike (Croix De Fer with 32 tyres) and have only lost a few pounds so I think it is the winter turbo work making the difference. I think it was learning what sort of effort I can hold and maintain and for how long - my ride home is now treated like an over under sufferefest intervals session, lol. Latest ride home, 3 PRs - http://app.strava.com/activities/43266463

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Me-109
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby Me-109 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:48 pm

The technical nature of off-road climbing can have an impact on what you perceive to be fitness and mask any improvements you have made. This forces pace changes and body positions that you will not have replicated on the turbo. What you won't know is how bad you might have been had you not done the turbo sessions.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby danowat » Wed Mar 06, 2013 13:16 pm

I don't see a massive distinction between the two for me, an hour on the turbo = an hour on the road, turbo riding is harder (both physically and mentally for me), but each has it's own merit, I think you have to decide what sessions are appropriate for the turbo and what aren't.

Doing intervals of less than 30mins are better on the turbo as you don't have to concerntrate on the road, you can just focus on your target and hold it, I also (and my coach agrees) think that there is some level of mental toughness that comes from doing hard work on the turbo.

Longer state rides (1hr upwards) for me are pretty much exclusively done on the road, I have done 90-120min tempo rides on the turbo, but they are very, very horrible.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby Lightning » Wed Mar 06, 2013 15:57 pm

danowat wrote:I don't see a massive distinction between the two for me, an hour on the turbo = an hour on the road

This is how I feel about it too.

Turbo training is just as good for training (or better depending on the intensity and traffic, etc) than doing so on the road. I think the main problem is lots of people believe they can just sign up for something like TR, do a couple of hours a week of intense workouts on the turbo and only go out on the road after a few months to destroy everyone on some road ride. I'm not saying this is your case by the way.

Now for your experience.. Did you spend 14 hours during those past 5 weeks on the turbo (i.e. 3 hours per week)? So zero time on the road? How long was your MTB ride? How long was your longest turbo ride? 3 hours per week is already pretty low, and riding outside every 5 weeks is simply not enough (you do need to adapt to the road). I also suspect your MTB ride was your longest ride in those 5 weeks and you simply weren't used to it. I understand you may be busy, but if you can do it, try to add at least a 3 hours tempo ride outdoors every weekend or something (so 3 hours tempo outdoors on weekend + 3 hours of high intensity on the turbo during the week) and try the same ride in 5 weeks. I'm pretty sure you'll feel much better.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby handful » Thu Mar 07, 2013 07:06 am

Thanks guys, some really good advice here. Basically I'm just not doing enough!! Thanks for the tip about the time crouched cyclist plan on TR, that looks like its worth a try. I'm not under any illusion about ever being a competitive cyclist but feel that fitness needs to be at a certain level to actually enjoy it, particularly mtbing which if I'm honest is where I get most of my pure cycling enjoyment from (and pain from falling off!) I am starting to get a buzz on the road as well though and suspect that's where the future will lie as I get older!
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby Markwb79 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:11 am

Turbo training is definitely more focused. But which is better?

2 hour Z2 road ride including 2*20min interval with the risk of the intervals not being consitant because of going down hill, possible traffic lights etc

or

2*20min interval on the turbo
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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby danowat » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:22 am

Markwb79 wrote:Turbo training is definitely more focused. But which is better?

2 hour Z2 road ride including 2*20min interval with the risk of the intervals not being consitant because of going down hill, possible traffic lights etc

or

2*20min interval on the turbo


Depends :lol: , but if your session aim is specifically 2 x 20, then the one on the turbo is better IMO.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby phreak » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:27 am

I like the turbo for a couple of reasons. A it means I can train specifically for my main rides, which in this case means doing 1 hour at a constant pace. That's tough to replicate on the roads (near London).

Secondly there's also a time thing. It can easily take 45m to an hour to get out of the traffic in London. That time is kinda wasted, whereas on a turbo you know you're going to get a good 60-90 minutes of work in.

Long rides are great for their enjoyment value and getting time in the saddle, but in London turbo work offers much better bang for your buck.

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Re: Benefit of turbo training vs 'proper' riding?

Postby Toks » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:56 pm

handful wrote:I realise this will vary according to the effort put in but in general, do people consider their turbo training as being a true boost to their fitness or is it more a case of being better than nothing and fitness levels are just better than they would have been with less riding? Is it always better for fitness to do a 'proper' ride whenever possible.

I ask because I had my first outdoor ride (mtb) since doing about 14 hours of Trainerroad sessions over the last 4 or 5 weeks and found I was really struggling on the climbs, more so than I hoped. I'm getting on a bit (50) and not particularly strong on hills anyway but I was hoping for some payback for the effort I have been putting in.I'm not expecting miracles by the way, just a little disappointed that I felt the pain that I did!!
Has your trainer got a good road feel? Did you include 'threshold' and anaerobic (30sec-2mins) bursts? We're you really putting the work in or just turning your legs? (indoors, without a fan to cool you down it can feel like you're really working hard and actually you're just plodding along) If the answer is "yes" to these questions then be patient, assuming you weren't massively under trained prior to your turboeing stint you'll soon get back up to speed.


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