Indoor vs. Outdoor
Will an indoor cycling class at my local gym or cycling studio help me in the
Of course it will, but make sure you know your best options for best
results. Hefler Performance Cycling started a indoor cycling performance studio all the way back in 2001. Back then, it was 10 trainers- the ‘dumb” kind – in a friend’s garage in McLean, Virginia. I had a ghetto blaster cassette player, and hot coffee afterwards.
Boy, am I glad for that coffee! We all froze our butts off that first winter. But we had some fun and epic workouts together. I opened my first real studio in Vienna at Spokes Etc… in 2004. Several bigger and better locations later, HPC continues to evolve and refine our training system for ever better outcomes for our clients. I use reliable and accurate “smart” trainers (COMPUTRAINER) because although considered “older”, the system is still the only one out there that uses a hard-wired interface with our computers.( And,hey, the magic of any “smart” trainer is in the software.)
For a class of twenty riders, hard-wired means no data drop out. Even if I have multiple bluetooth cycling computers running as well! Equipment aside, the heart of my success as a coach and as a business is getting positive results for my clients.I work hard to design and provide workouts that tick all the boxes of the core principles of training.
The four pillars are:
Individuality. Classes should be tailored to each riders’ goals and current fitness level. We use YOUR specific power threshold, Heart rate and even RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) to optimize your class experience Progression. Classes should evolve throughout the season to develop riders’ improving fitness and ability to adapt to increasing workload.
Specificity. Workouts that incorporate different energy systems and muscle groups to target specific cycling requirements. These will include classes that focus on climbing endurance and power, sprint sets, cadence work, and time trial simulations; each in a proper proportion to maximize training benefit.
Overload/Recovery. Every fitness club has some form of indoor cycling class, and during the winter it’s very tempting for outdoor cyclists to jump in rather than slave away on an indoor trainer all by themselves. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with indoor cycling classes in gyms and health clubs, cycling studios like SoulCycle and Cyclebar, and even live and on-demand classes like Peloton, but if you
are a cyclist or triathlete it is important to find one that’s actually going to improve your performance on the bike. Indoor cycling classes generally fall into two categories:
Sweatfests and Structured Workouts. Both have their merits, and I understand the psychology of the Sweatfest fan’s desire to reach the end of a class thoroughly exhausted, but as a coach I prefer the Structured Workout approach. Many times the Sweatfest feels excruciatingly difficult, but due to inadequate recovery periods, your perceived exertion level is through the roof but your actual power output is too low to lead to improved fitness. Check in with the instructor: if the primary feature of the workout is that it’s ridiculously intense, but he or she can’t identify what you’re actually going to get out of it, find a different class.