9 steps to create the perfect indoor training setup

Make your indoor cycling setup a place to be proud of

Simon von Bromley riding a Giant TCR on a Wahoo Kickr Core smart trainer

Indoor training is more popular than ever as cyclists duck out of expensive gym memberships and soggy winter rides in favour of training in the comfort of their own homes.

Advertisement MPU article

Having the right indoor space to train can be the difference between staying motivated and just wishing you were outside riding your bike, so the importance of a good setup should not be underestimated.

The rise of training apps also means indoor cycling is more interactive and, dare we say it, enjoyable than ever, but there’s still plenty you can do to create the perfect training environment.

We quizzed several of BikeRadar‘s keenest indoor riders to find out what makes their personal indoor cycling space worth revisiting.

Here are nine tips to create your own indoor training space.

Create the space

Indoor cycling setup
Go from sofa to saddle in no time by creating a dedicated training area.

Let’s start with an obvious one – the key to creating an indoor training zone is finding a dedicated space to work with.

Not everyone’s that fortunate, of course, but having a specific area set up for indoor training means you can just get on with your workout.

While the best smart trainers are pretty easy to set up, a dedicated training area means you don’t have to haul the turbo out of storage and attach your bike every time you want to turn the pedals.

Also, if you’re planning an early-morning training session before work, or want to be able to hop on at the end of the day, having everything ready to go removes one of the possible excuses for ducking out.

Inspiration is key

Cycling photos on a wall
Get creative with your training space.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

One thing that made a big difference to nearly all of the riders we spoke with was having a source of inspiration to refer to during their training.

Be it posters of favourite pros, cycling memorabilia or artwork, it’s all good. Plus, it adds character to what can often be a pretty dull space.

We’d also recommend getting your goals or winter training plan up on the wall, so you can physically see it, keep on track and remind yourself why you’re bothering at all.

Get smart

Indoor cycling setup
Smart trainers have made the turbo experience more realistic and interactive than ever.

Long gone are the days when using a turbo trainer felt like riding through treacle in the middle of a hurricane.

The latest smart trainers offer a more realistic ride quality than ever and are quiet enough not to disturb your family, housemates or neighbours.

A smart trainer needn’t break the bank, either. Of course, you can shell out north of a grand for a top-of-the-range, direct-drive unit (or even more for an indoor training smart bike), but wheel-on smart trainers are now available for just a few hundred pounds.

All within reach

Indoor cycling setup
Have everything you need close to hand.

Having a shelf or table close to your bike will ensure you can place everything you need within arm’s reach.

That way you shouldn’t find yourself hopping off and back on the bike unnecessarily, midway through an interval training session.

A dedicated laptop table or iPad stand is also really helpful for Zwifting, to put your device in easy reach.

In terms of other turbo trainer accessories, make sure you have a towel to hand, two water bottles and leave a small multi-tool in your training zone in case you need to make any quick adjustments.

A breath of fresh air

Indoor cycling setup
Indoor training is a sweaty business. Get yourself a big fan to stay cool.

Indoor training is hot work that requires suitable ventilation and temperature control.

Most riders swear by one or multiple fans to keep body and room temperatures at a comfortable level, with the welcome side effect of making the whole experience feel a lot more like regular bike riding.

If you’re using a single fan, we’d recommend a diameter of at least 12 inches to ensure you get the coverage required. A small desktop fan simply won’t cut it in the heat of a tough session.

A remote-controlled fan is also ideal, as you can adjust the speed of the fan as the intensity of your workout increases.

And if you want a sure-fire sign of how popular indoor training now is, there are even cycling-specific fans out there, which can link up to your smart trainer to vary the amount of cooling based on how hard you are pedalling.

Otherwise, if you’ve got a window nearby then open it, and remember, you won’t require anywhere near as many layers as you normally would on your bike. Again, some clothing brands have even introduced indoor-specific training kit.

Lone rider

Indoor cycling setup
If possible, create your setup in an area free from distractions.

Space is at a premium for most riders putting together an indoor training or Zwift setup, but finding a location free from interruptions will help keep you focused on the job in hand.

A location away from distractions like family or pets is ideal – you don’t want to be interrupted near the end of a lung-burning five-minute VO2 max interval.

That’s entertainment

Indoor cycling setup
Essential listening: The BikeRadar Podcast.

Even the keenest riders who just love being on their bike can end up pretty bored when it comes to riding indoors.

Music apps such as Spotify and Apple Music have high-tempo playlists dedicated specifically to training, while those with a decent internet connection might decide to get buried in a television series or film.

And if you’re settling in for a long session, how about listening to the BikeRadar Podcast? It’s excellent, even if we say so ourselves.

Bluetooth headphones are essential if your training space is in the house and you don’t want to make enemies. Wireless headphones will also enable you to move freely on the bike without getting tangled in a cable.

Virtual reality

Indoor training setup
Hook your smart trainer up to an indoor cycling app for a truly immersive experience.
Our Media

Another option for those with power, internet and the necessary hardware is to gamify the whole experience with Zwift or other indoor training apps.

Zwift’s virtual training experience pitches you against other riders in an environment that’s both rewarding and addictive.

It allows you to host and join group rides, making your training time a lot less solitary, while you can also choose from a wide range of structured workouts and training plans, or join a virtual race.

There are other great options besides Zwift, though, including TrainerRoad for a stripped-back and highly focused training experience, Wahoo SYSTM for structured training that combines indoor and outdoor riding, and Rouvy for augmented reality.

Stay connected

Indoor cycling setup
Make sure you’ve got easy access to a power source and solid WiFi connection.
Our Media

If you’re putting together a fully fledged training zone, complete with smart trainer, laptop/tablet/television and tornado-strength fan, you’ll need a power source. What’s more, a good WiFi connection is essential if you’re doing interactive training. Get a range extender if you need one.

Advertisement MPU article

Got a training space you’re particularly proud of? Think you’ve got something to add to this list? Be sure to add it to the comments below.