Beating Boredom on an indoor bike

Feb. 8, 2014

Ok, so yesterday wasn’t actually a rest day for me. My Tri club did another 2 hour Friday night spin, so of course I went to that! I haven’t posted yet about how to make a 2 hour – or a 6 hour! – spin or trainer ride at least a little entertaining, so I shall do so now.

For me, the biggest thing is variety. Putting your bike in one gear and grinding away for an hour or more is not only incredibly boring, but also not likely a good approach to do all the time, especially for Ironman Wisconsin which has a lot of hills. However, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I just want to grind while I watch a movie, listen to music, or read a book/listen to an audiobook. There is a time and a place for that, totally. Just don’t do it all the time.

Most spin instructors will write a workout, often set to music. At home in your trainer, you can also follow a written workout. They can be very easy to write yourself, especially if you have a clear idea of what kind of workout you’re looking for that day (e.g. lots of climbing, lots of sprinting, easier ride for recovery). For example, if for a 10 minute portion of workout:

2 minutes “climbing” by increase the resistance, then a 1 minute “recovery” by reducing the resistance, then 3 minutes climbing again, 1 minute recovery, then 2 more minutes climbing and then 1 more recovery.


3 minute time trial (all out fast, even pace), 1 minute recovery, 4 minute climb, 2 minute recovery.

And so on. You can break it down further, such as turning the 4 minute climb above into 1 minute easy climb, 1 minute moderate, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy. This might simulate a hill that starts out easy, gets harder as your momentum lessens and you really have to get working, and then gets a bit easier as you crest it.

Spin instructors vary a lot in their approaches. I have learned this after attending many different spin classes, and it was very apparent during out 6 hour spin with 6 different instructors. Some go by heart rate, or RPMs (revolutions per minute – most spin bikes have a sensor that tells you this info), or other metrics like percentage of maximum effort. They should explain the approach and they all work, but you may find yourself preferring a certain method and/or instructor. I know I do. But it also means there are variations in how workouts you find online are written. Again, just find what works for you and go with it.

Resources for structured workouts:

Triathlete Magazine has some free workouts here.

Spinervals is a company that makes workouts and workout videos for indoor cycling. They have some free ones here. I own one of their DVDs and it’s pretty good.

Chris Carmichael has some free workouts here too.

If you’re looking to reach expert level, you can time your workouts to music. For example, getting out of the saddle and working really hard to the chorus of “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, which our spin instructor did tonight. It might sound cheesy, but it really is motivating.

As mentioned above, you can also watch videos. I’m not just referring to putting on Star Wars, Star Trek or a James Bond movie (though I highly recommend all of these, haha).  There are videos that simulate an outdoor ride (which may or may not be considered cruel when you’re trapped inside in Wisconsin with the snow falling or cold wind howling), and there are videos of taped spin classes.

EXAMPLES Free Workout Videos:

YouTube has several free videos of spin classes, such as this one from Global Cycling Network.

This video that maybe sorta simulates riding outdoors in a group.

And here is an example of a video that simulates riding by yourself outside.



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