Will a turbo trainer get me fit?
I was talking to my friend about this site and he surprised me by asking “Will a turbo trainer get me fit?” The answer is a resounding “Yes”
Other questions he asked that I answer below were:
- What’s the best turbo trainer for me?
- How often do I have to train?
- Is there a right or wrong way to train?
- What do I need to train with a Turbo trainer?
- I also told him of ways to stay focused and motivated.
I have also added helpful videos below
My friend not only wanted to get fit but also lose weight and as we keep being told to lose weight you have to “Eat less and exercise more.” And I have found no better or intense way to exercise at home than with a turbo trainer.
I myself lost weight and got fitter by using a turbo trainer and eating sensibly… so I know it works.
The drawback to using a cycle training stand is that it is boring… See below how some people overcome this.
Also like all good exercise it is hard work, but below I help point you to an exercise plan to suit even the most unfit and get you on the road to fitness.
Advantages of using a turbo trainer to get fit
- I have found no better or intensive way of fitness training at home. (I know this is personal preference and if you know of a better way to keep fit please let me know in the comments below.)
- It is easy to start and set up.
- A turbo trainer requires minimal space, just the length and width of your pushbike and a bit of elbow room.
- You can exercise on your cycle even in the worst weather.
- It is safer than going out on the road… My main concern nowadays (honestly a lot of car drivers should not be on the road)
- There is very minimal set up cost… just your own bike and a turbo trainer… and they can be found at a very wallet friendly price. Not all turbo trainers are the same, see below which is most suitable for you.
- You can exercise for as long and as intensely as you like
- It’s a low impact exercise that will increase muscle strength and fitness level.
How often do I need to train?
To get fit or to maintain your fitness level you do need use the turbo trainer on a regular basis.
For the beginner
For the very unfit I recommend 30 mins 3 times a week. I know that doesn’t sound much and if you feel after doing your workout that you haven’t done enough you can up your time exercising or do a faster more intense session.
Miss a day between exercises to let your muscles rebuild themselves.
For a regular cyclist or more experienced turbo trainer
Once you have better stamina and your muscles have adapted to the cycling exercise you can up your workouts to daily and also if you want you can extend your workout time.
Best workouts for turbo trainers
I have Googled workouts for turbo trainers and they all seem to target the experienced or club racer but I have found some that will suit a beginner.
The simplest way to workout is with a 5 to 10 minute warm up then increase the resistance and speeds depending upon how fit you are, then 5- 10 minutes easy at the end as a cool down, depending upon how hard you have worked.
You can find a turbo trainer workout for the beginner here which I have made.
These are 30 minute sessions starting at a level even the unfit can begin with and working up in intensity
You can follow it at your own pace even going back if you wish. Doing some exercise is better than doing none.
Relieve the boredom
After a few workouts you will have discovered that staring at a wall is extremely boring, but there are ways to make exercising indoors on your bike less tedious and more entertaining and even challenging.
What can you do to make using a trainer more entertaining?
- Music – The most obvious and easiest to set up. Bang in your ear plugs and pedal away.
- TV- If you can set up near a TV, you can exercise while watching you favourite programs. You may find that your bike makes too much noise if you watch TV with other people. Also WARNING your bike chain can spray oil over your carpet, put a mat down to protect it… I made this mistake!
- YouTube – This was the way I kept entertained… Place your laptop in front of you and bang in those ear buds. Don’t use head phones… They fill up with sweat and start to smell after a while… I had to throw mine away it was that bad!
- Smart trainers – If you find that you like to use your Turbo trainer and want to upgrade then a smart Turbo trainer is the next step.
A smart trainer lets it communicate with an app in your phone, tablet or computer. This app can then adjust the trainer’s resistance. So, when you come to a virtual hill or the start of a work interval, the trainer automatically makes it harder to pedal. Also, when riding in virtual groups, it adjusts for a draft: ride behind a big group and it’s easier. Get to the front and it’s harder.
- Apps – You don’t have to have a smart trainer some of the simpler apps can work of just a power meter that is connected to your back wheel. With these you can follow cycle courses and even ride with other online riders or just virtual ones.
The most popular apps are Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest but there are many more.
A cheap setup using Zwift
A video showing a cheap setup for the Zwift and also few helpful tips for using a Turbo trainer.
- CycleOps Fluid2 Turbo Trainer
- Garmin USB2 ANT+ Stick
- Garmin Speed/Cadence Sensor Combo
- USB Extension Cable
- Quad lock bike mount for phone
What is the best type of Turbo trainer?
When you are choosing your Turbo trainer there are two questions you want to ask:
- How fit are you?
- How much do you want to spend?
If you have already looked for a turbo trainer you will have seen that not only is there a vast array that all look the same but also that the prices vary from insanely cheap to ridiculously expensive.
It is a case of what you spend is what you get.
If you are a novice cyclist and not sure if cycling is for you then I recommend going cheap… not the cheapest but look for a cycle trainer that has different levels of resistance, a fly wheel and a quick release is handy.
Don’t get a single resistance trainer without a flywheel or your workouts will be misery. I have found on that I think is OK here on Amazon
For the more experienced and fitter cyclist I’m afraid you will have to look for something a little better. I used to cycle for fun (less than 10 miles a day) and found that I overcame the resistance of the cheaper magnetic cycle trainer stands making it useless for me.
A better mid-range turbo trainer should have a larger flywheel or fluid resistance (not a cheap fluid trainer these have a reputation for leaks) and if your budget can stretch to it a smart trainer. Again I have found one here on Amazon which I would recommend.
Are there any extras needed for turbo training?
- Mats – These have multiple used from deadening vibration and noise to protecting the floor from oil and sweat. Check out the price on Amazon here
- Quiet tyre instead of knobbly – If your bike is fitted with knobbly off road tyres you will find that the noise generated while using the turbo trainer would be deafening. You have a number of choices to either fit cheap road tires or purpose made silent trainer tires. Trainer tires can get expensive check out the price here.
- Sweat nets – Essential if you have a carbon fibre frame. Sweat will rot your bike…At race meats you will see the riders warm up on their turbo trainers and their bikes are draped with towels and sweat nets for protection. More details here.
- Fan – Unlike on the open road there is no wind to cool you down; if you are indoors in an enclosed space you will find a fan essential. A large fan similar to this one is recommended. For more info I’ve got a post on best fans for turbo trainers here.
- Ear buds – Listen to music or the TV ear buds are a great way to eliminate the noise of your trainer… I would recommend wireless to give you more freedom.
- Wheel raisers – The turbo trainer lifts the rear wheel making you feel like you are peddling downhill all the time and this causes some rider back ache. If your Stand does not come with a wheel raiser you could get one here or just use an old book.
- Skewer – Most good bike trainer stands come with a skewer for back wheels that need them, but if not you can find them here.
Will a turbo trainer get me fit? Yes they are a fantastic safe and affordable way to get and keep fit in the privacy of your own home.
I have used one myself to get fit over the winter months so I’m ready for ride outs in the spring. I definitely recommend these for anyone looking to get fit or lose weight.
I hope that this post has helped you make up your mind to use a Turbo trainer to get fit.