Indoor Training: Become a better cyclist

You have your pain cave (or wattage cottage or she shed…whatever you want to call it!) set up, and you've done your FTP test. So...what next? While there are some things, such as bike handling skills, that you can't improve when riding indoors, there are still plenty of ways to effectively utilize indoor trainers.

Pedal Stroke

Since the bike is stationary, it is much easier to focus on details such as developing a powerful and smooth pedal stroke. Include some single leg pedaling in your warm ups and easy rides. These drills can improve your efficiency, smoothness, and leg strength. They can also provide insight into right and left leg strength discrepancies.

Single leg pedaling should be done at a low power with a focus on technique. The free foot should ideally be supported on something such as a box or the frame of the trainer. Weight should be distributed evenly over the saddle, and the rest of your body should be relaxed, keeping your core engaged and pressure on the pedal all the way around.

The Single Leg Drill

Warm up for a few minutes
30-seconds left leg
60-seconds both legs
30-seconds right leg
60-seconds both legs
Repeat 3 times

As you get more comfortable, you can increase the duration to 45, 60 or 90 seconds per leg.

Cadence Work

The controlled environment of a stationary trainer makes it possible to do very specific training. Low cadence or strength endurance intervals are challenging to do outside because you always seem to run out of hill, but these are easy to perform indoors. Similarly, high cadence intervals can also be done to further improve pedal stroke efficiency. Regular, structured intervals of varying intensities can also be much more specific because they can be performed at a desired cadence.

Sample workout

  • Warm up: 10 min easy
  • Single leg pedaling: 3x30 sec each leg with 1 min dual leg pedaling in between
  • 5 min easy riding
  • 2 min overgeared low cadence at low Zone 4, cadence 50-60rpm
  • 2 min fast cadence below threshold
  • 2 min overgeared low cadence at low Zone 4, cadence 50-60rpm
  • 5 min easy pedaling Zone 1 Recovery
  • 2 min fast cadence below threshold
  • 2 min overgeared low cadence at low Zone 4
  • 2 min fast cadence below threshold
  • Cool down

Training Zones

Training indoors also makes it so easy to target specific training zones.



Perceived Exertion










Sweet Spot






Vo2 Max



Anaerobic Capacity


10 (all out!)


You can choose to focus on specific zones or you can mix it all up in one workout for a crazy good time. 

  • Warm up: 15 min slow build from Z1-Z2
  • 10 min Z3 tempo, but at the end of every 2 min include a 10 sec out of the saddle sprint
  • 5 min Z1 Recovery
  • 5 min alternating 30 sec at Z5, 30 sec at Z3
  • 5 min Z1 Recovery
  • Repeat 5 min alternating 30 sec at Z5, 30 sec at Z3
  • 10 min Z1
  • 30 sec all out sprint
  • 5 min Z1
  • 30 sec all out sprint
  • Cool down 


With so many virtual training platforms, perhaps one of the best (and definitely most fun!) training rides is to just enter a race! Most platforms offer different categories depending on ability level and there are a variety of courses in terms of length, terrain, etc. You may find you push yourself even harder in a competitive environment like this than you would in a structured workout.


Hi! I'm Liz Van Houweling, a personal training and cycling coach. I am a mom to two toddlers, so I understand the importance of making exercise fit into your busy life. I have a passion for fitness and think it actually makes us better people (and parents!) if we can find time to feel good about ourselves.
I have experience racing road, mountain, cyclocross, and track cycling as well as sprint triathlons and half marathons. With the two little children, I currently do a lot of Zwift (virtual cycling!) racing...and I can't believe how much I love it!
As an ACSM certified personal trainer and USA Cycling certified coach, I want to help make your fitness dreams come true. I offer in home (in person) and virtual training. If you're looking for a personal trainer and/or monthly customized coaching plans for cycling, I'd love to talk with you! 

Phone: 812-603-0052


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