Tri Talk Tuesday – Four Bike Trainer Workouts for a Killer Off Season Training Plan

Hello Tuesday, how nice to see you. It feels like it’s been a while since the last Tri Talk Tuesday with Cynthia and Phaedra, but really it’s been a month. Time is eluding me right now. My life feels like it’s in a complete time warp.

But I did register for Ironman Chattanooga, so at some point (post pregnancy, hello restricted activity, boo) I need to get myself back onto real life time and pull my act together.

This means spending a long winter (and spring, and summer, because baby) training indoors. Thank goodness I have a treadmill and bike trainer because both of those will get some serious use when I can’t just go out running and riding at my leisure anymore. And since I’ll be spending a fair amount of time with my bike hooked onto my trainer, I figured for this month’s TTT theme of indoor cycle training, I’d share a few of my favorite bike trainer workouts.


First thing’s first, if you train with power, or plan to, you need to do an FTP test. This is your functional threshold power and you’ll set training zones based on the results. Training by power is the gold standard for indoor training and I got my PowerTap power meter shortly before getting pregnant, so I haven’t really gotten an opportunity to put it through it’s paces entirely yet. But you bet your booty with an Ironman on my 2016 docket that thing is going to get slammed. An FTP test is comprised of a short warm up of about ten minutes. Spin your legs, throw in a few short bursts of speed, and get those muscles ready to scream. The meat of the FTP is a 20 minute all out sprint. You need to be able to sustain your pace and effort without burning out in the last few minutes. Follow this up with a ten minute cool down and if you did it right you should be pretty much destroyed after only 40 minutes on the trainer. But the results of your efforts will be your guide through power based training, so really dig deep and focus. It will all pay off in the end.

Spin, spin baby! Get your inside ride on with a bike trainer and some short but sweet killer workouts.

If you then are indeed training with power, this is a fabulous power workout that my friend Kecia over at Push My Limits introduced to me and I love it!

Warm up- 5 minutes

3×4 minutes power zone 3/recover 2 minutes 

4 minute recovery power zone 2

3×3 minutes power zone 4/recover 1:30

4 minute recovery power zone 2

3×2 minutes power zone 5/1 minute recovery

4 minute recovery power zone 2

5 minute cool down

If you don’t train with power, that’s okay. Power meters aren’t cheap and they’re generally not a beginner, or even an intermediate tool since the price tag is not always for the faint of heart, or bank account. There are plenty of awesome trainer workouts you can do without power.

I love a good tempo workout on the bike, so this workout is super simple, easy to follow, and uses rate of perceived exertion (RPE) which is a great way to train and race that keeps you in tune with your own body.

Warm up- 10 minutes easy with a few bursts of speed thrown in

 4×8 minutes RPE~8

3 minute recovery between each set

Cool down- 10 minutes

Griswold likes to pretend he’s being a helpful training partner

Short on time and need some bang for you buck? Try a quick yet challenging sprint pyramid that has you on and off your bike in 45 minutes but feeling like you just came off a hardcore endurance workout. This one also uses RPE.

10 minute warm, include a few 30 second bursts of speed

1 minute ON /1 minute OFF

2/2 minutes on/off

3/3 minutes on/off

4/4 minutes on/off

3/3 minutes on/off

2/2 minutes on/off

1/1 minute on/off – RPE during ON interval should be around 9, OFF is your recovery

10 Minute cool down

A lot of people dread long off seasons on a bike trainer, but it doesn’t have to be boring or mundane. There are plenty of awesome workouts out there to keep you focused and training hard, and smart, all winter long. Indoor training is often times more beneficial then just riding outside all the time too. There are reasons why the pros do most of their training inside on a trainer; it works!

Bike trainer- love it or hate?

Have a favorite trainer workout? Share it in the comments!

Tri Talk Tuesday is a monthly triathlon blog link up series. TTT will be back again on December 8, 2015 with a theme of Triathlon Holiday Gifts! Have a post? Come join the conversation!

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5 Replies to “Tri Talk Tuesday – Four Bike Trainer Workouts for a Killer Off Season Training Plan”

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I love that workout and actually did that one last week 🙂 I’m going to have to try the on/off workout…I have one similar, but with shorter intervals. It would be good to do one with some longer intervals. As you know, I am definitely a fan of the trainer…it allows me to really push myself and get stronger at cycling 🙂
    Kecia recently posted…Team Mosista – Move for MovemberMy Profile

  2. I wouldn’t say Iove or hate the bike trainer. I much prefer to be riding outdoors, but when daylight doesn’t allow it I get good workouts in on the trainer. I do try to get in a long ride outdoors all year round, whether it be road or mountain bike. And for me, training with power has been the best investment. I have a powertap hub, but don’t use it on my trainer because I have the Wahoo Kickr so the rear wheel comes off. The two power measurements are about 10 watts off so I will have to repeat power tests outdoors on the bike with the powertap to get updated measurements for racing. Good for you on Chattanooga! I’ve heard great things about that course.
    Kelli recently posted…TriTalk Tuesday – Are you suffering on the bike?My Profile

    1. I definitely prefer riding outside, that’s for sure! But if I am stuck on the trainer I at least know I’ll be getting in a good workout. Glad you love you Powertap, because I love mine too =)

    1. Definitely try it! It’s harder than it looks. The first time I tried it I was pleasantly surprised by how hard I had to work for it.

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