How to build a pain cave | 9 tips for creating the perfect indoor training space

Make your pain cave a place to be proud of

How to create a winter training plan

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.


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 pain cave should not be underestimated.

The rise of training apps such as Zwift, RGT Cycling and Rouvy 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 pain caves worth revisiting. Here are nine tips to create your own indoor training space.

Create the space

Let’s start with an obvious one – the key to creating a pain cave 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.

You don’t have to haul the turbo out of storage and attach your bike to the trainer 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

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 training plan up on the wall, so you can physically see it, keep on track and remind yourself why you’re bothering at all.

All within reach

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 and leave a small multi-tool in your pain cave in case you need to make any quick adjustments.

A breath of fresh air

wahoo headwind fan
The futuristic-looking Wahoo Headwind fan automatically adjusts its strength according to your speed and heart rate.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

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 15 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.

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. Some clothing brands have even introduced indoor-specific training kit.

Lone rider

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

Even the keenest riders who just love being on their bike can end up pretty damn 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.

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

Get smart

Tacx Neo 2T smart turbo trainer
Smart trainers have made the turbo experience more realistic and interactive than ever.
Simon von Bromley / Immediate Media

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, such as the top-end Tacx Neo 2T pictured above, 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.

Virtual reality

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.

Stay connected

If you’re putting together a fully-fledged pain cave, complete with smart trainer, laptop/tablet/television and tornado-strength fan, you’ll need a power source. Something to consider if your pain cave is outside of the house.

What’s more, a good WiFi connection is essential if you’re doing interactive training. Get a range extender if you need one.


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.