Putting in those hours on the trainer can be long during the cold winter months. Finding ways to pass the time while still getting your workouts done will go a long way to ensuring you accomplish the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning of the winter. So here are some strategies you can use to make the time on the trainer go by faster and help make it enjoyable enough to become part of your routine.

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Structured workouts

Having a solid training plan goes a long way to motivating you to put the required hours in on the trainer. Structured workouts with intervals makes the time tick by just a little bit faster and helps you optimize your time. Using a power meter, whether on your bike or in the trainer, can also help to ensure you are getting the most out of your efforts. Hopefully by training smarter your mind will keep focused on the long-term goal and help you find motivation each time you hop on to your bike.

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Entertainment

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Anything to keep your mind distracted can be helpful when you are having trouble commiting time to the trainer. One strategy is to only allow yourself to watch your favourite TV show while you are spinning. This way the workout becomes the reward. Alternatively turn on a movie you haven’t had the time to watch. If you enjoy watching bike racing dig up some old race footage from the Tour de France or your favourite classic and ride with the pros. You can even match your efforts to theirs.

Use an interactive or social training app

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Developers are coming up with increasingly clever ways to make trainer time more effective and fun. Using a smart trainer like the Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Control paired with the training app can help you do structured workouts and stay more engaged while you train. Other platforms like Swift give you an interactive digital platform to ride in with other cyclists. These tools can help you hold yourself accountable and give you increased motivation which can help you train better and make the workouts seem a bit easier.

Listen to music

Training to the right soundtrack can really help some people dig a little deeper. Music won’t make the time pass faster for everyone but it can help you get into the zone and sometimes once you get focused you’ll find workouts begin to fly by. If you don’t find music works or maybe for your base workouts try putting on a podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to and see how that works.

Train with friends.

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If you have a friend with enough space to set up a few trainers get a group together for weekly sessions. Training with people is much more motivating and holds you accountable to your friends or teammates. Come spring, you may be chasing these same people on the road if you don’t match their training during the winter. You can also join power training classes offered by studios and bike shops which will allow you to ride with cyclists of all abilities and maybe make some new friends in the process. Shared suffering is often times easier than doing it alone.

Try rollers

Rollers

If you have gotten truly fed up with the trainer maybe it’s time to try rollers. You won’t necessarily be able to do the same efforts on them but since your bike is not held in place your body will need to be more engaged. This will strengthen your core muscles and feel a bit more like riding on the road.

Reduce the number of trainer hours

Bicyclist on trail on snowy day.

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By cross training or riding outside you can significantly reduce the number of trainer hours you need to put in every week which can help make them go by a little faster when you do have to do them. If you want to just stay active go for a run or try out another aerobic winter activity like cross-country skiing to get in some workouts. While riding outside during the winter isn’t for everyone, it’s a great way minimize the number of hours you’ve been spending on the trainer. For those willing to brave the elements, it can be a great discovery and be a rewarding way to stay fit.


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3 Comments

  • Jono says:

    I like to setup a playlist that’s 30-40 minutes, with varying tempo songs, and then try to match my cadence to the beat while on my Cascade Fluid Pro (https://www.cascadebiketrainers.com/products/cascade-fluidpro-bike-trainer/). So a warmup with something with a consistent, driving beat, like Journey’s “Separate Ways.” After that something a bit peppier, maybe Black Sabbath’s “Neon Knights,” to push into bigger wattages. Then maybe a breather with a short, slower song, before jumping back in with faster metal. And Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” is an interval session all on its own.

    The times I’ve tried watching TV or listening to podcasts, I tend to zone out & then realize I’m not really doing much in terms of improving performance. Or I end up getting bored & wanting to quit earlier.

  • Jack Bauer says:

    The show 24 available on Netflix is the best time killer of all time. 8.5 seasons. 40 minutes each it’s perfect length for short medium and long sessions when strung together. Plus it’s mainly action so doesn’t require much attention.

  • RHP says:

    I start and end the winter season with rollers because I can leave my bike “road ready” in case there are days hospitable to riding outside; I use a trainer through most of the winter (and have different wheel and tire for the rear).
    Indeed the trainer allows for more intense rides, yet I really love rollers, probably because the need to pay attention to what I’m doing feels more involved.

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