Nate Pearson was never as fit as when he was doing CompuTrainer classes, where specific resistance-based workouts were led by a coach. But with a young family at home and the demands of a job, he also realized that he couldn’t easily afford the cost or the time of the classes.
“I was paying $20 a class, which I couldn’t really afford, plus I had to drive 30 minutes each way in traffic,” Pearson said. “I’m a programmer, and I thought, 'you know, I can do this at home'.”
Instead of cutting his old CompuTrainer coach, Chad Timmerman, out of the picture, he made him part of it. Three years ago, Pearson, Timmerman and another programmer, Reid Webber, launched TrainerRoad, which offers a deep menu of power- or estimated-power-based workouts online for use on a trainer.
The software works best with a power meter, allowing riders to stay right on target for work and recovery intervals based on their FTP (functional threshold power), but only a trainer, a wireless speedometer and a computer are necessary to get started. About half of TrainerRoad customers use the software without a power meter, instead using the Virtual Power setting, which calculates power based on speed and the particular trainer used.
Now, the Reno, Nevada-based company is readying to launch an iOS app version of the software on Apple's App Store.
While TrainerRoad declined to share their number of users, spokesman Jonathan Lee said 1.3 million workouts have been completed on TrainerRoad as of mid-November, 2014.
There are nearly 700 workouts on TrainerRoad, and you can create your own manually or with a power file from an actual ride
Timmerman, who sold his CompuTrainer studios, is a Level 1 US Cycling coach. He writes all the workouts, which can be accessed a la carte, or used as part of a few plans he provides to TrainerRoad users. The service is US$10 a month (about £6.40 / AU$11.50), or US$99 a year.
Users (or their coaches) also have the ability to create their own workouts, using a few simple tools. All workouts are based on a rider’s FTP, and workouts are categorized by the type of system(s) that is stressed, such as aerobic, endurance, tempo, anaerobic, etc.
Riders can also upload a .mrc power file from a ride outside, and TrainerRoad will replicate that as a workout.
To get started, TrainerRoad encourages users to do a 20min and/or an 8min test. “You go all out and you get your FTP, and then you scale your training plan to it,” Pearson said. “Then you build a plan based on how much time you have and how much stress you can take.”
Training plans are included as part of the monthly fee. And you can also just cherrypick workouts without a plan.
The software records all your workouts, noting personal records for various milestones. This information is stored even if you let your subscription expire.
BikeRadar has been testing TrainerRoad for many months with a Kickr and a CycleOps magnetic trainer. Read our review here.