It’s early March and many of you in the Northern hemisphere are staring down a couple more months of winter training.
Indoor trainer rides are a valuable component of your training and we incorporate them into our plans year-round. Not only are they useful for time management but they also allow for precise execution of workouts in a controlled environment – no distractions from traffic, terrain or weather.
While this makes the trainer a great place to produce data that is consistent and repeatable, it’s also a perfect environment to practice the "SISU Racing’s 3 P’s of cycling" – position, posture and pedalling.
Incorporating technical work that focuses on bike position, posture on the bike and great pedalling action during your indoor cycling sessions will add considerable value to each workout, ingraining excellent riding habits that over time become the default setting for all your riding, regardless of exertion, fatigue levels and other distractions.
Let’s get into these areas of cycling. Nailing these will increase your endurance and efficiency.
1. Bike position, also known as bike fit. This may seem like a no-brainer but a surprising number of athletes do not sit comfortably on their bikes for the duration of their rides, shifting forwards and backwards on the saddle or even sitting off to one side.
This post is not the place to discuss the intricacies of developing your most comfortable bike position, but it is worth noting that the trainer is a great place to test and practice your “fitted position”. Athletes should be aware of where they are seated on the saddle while maintaining their fingers wrapped around the hoods (road position) or aero bar shifters (TT position).
Don’t be afraid to set yourself up in front of a mirror to check your position during the course of a workout, noting the subtle differences between pedalling in the upright and aero positions. If you are prone to fidget in that position, now is the time to seek advice and potentially evolve your position to something more sustainable for your body.
2. Posture is a foundation stone of good cycling, not to mention all other athletic activities. Posture has an impact on power output, bike handling as well as the physical stress incurred by cycling. Riding indoors is a great time to develop enhanced postural fitness by introducing a drill into your workouts.
Try this →Ride on the hoods (road bike) or bullhorns (TT bike) with relaxed fingers, wrists aligned and straight in both planes, elbows bent slightly and shoulders relaxed. Maintain that posture as you reach down with one hand for your drink bottle and extend your arm out at a ninety-degree angle to your body with the bottle parallel to the ground. Hold this position for ~20-30 seconds.
Your other hand should remain on the hoods or bullhorns with the goal to not significantly increase the weight on that hand. Repeat 2-3x times on each side. IMPORTANT: Being able to drink with both hands is an important skill for riding in the wind.
3. Pedalling action is a fairly unconscious activity for many of us but smooth and balanced pedalling has a substantial impact on performance and efficiency.
Thinking of the pedal stroke as a clock face, the majority of force is exerted between 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock with the foot recovering through the bottom of the stroke. Single leg pedalling drills can help athletes understand the phases of your pedal stroke and develop appropriate neuro-muscular connections.
Try this →Unclip one leg from the pedal and rest it behind you on the trainer. Pedal for 60 seconds with a single leg, switching your focus each 20 seconds through the three phases of the pedal stroke: 1 – 5 o’clock, 4 – 8 o’clock and 7 – 11 o’clock. Repeat with the other leg and repeat several times through. Start with lower cadences, ~50 rpm and build over time to two minutes over 90+ rpm. The key is to pedal with constant tension on the chain.
Becoming a better cyclist is about more than increasing power, improving finesse and efficiency by focusing on these areas of cycling will go a long way to improving your performance in triathlon.
You can work on your position, posture and pedalling on the trainer during the winter months to set yourself up to evolve your riding outside when the time comes.