THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO INDOOR CYCLING

2/3/2023 – Danny Holman

THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO INDOOR CYCLING

There are lots of blogs out there with lots of good (but similar) advice on how and why to get started with indoor cycling. We even have one ourselves on why you should start. But this blog aims to take things up a notch with practical advice for beginners on how to kick on and really benefit from indoor cycling once they have started.

Are you a Hobby Cyclist?

Let's say you've already made the decision to start indoor cycling. You're already a cyclist who enjoys outdoor riding in good weather. You ride when you can but it's more like a casual relationship rather than an obsessive one. Ideally you want to spend a few hours a week on your bike but would like to continue throughout the year, even during the winter. So you've taken the plunge, done some research and bought a trainer.

If you recognize the rider above and can relate, you're what's known as a 'hobby cyclist' and this blog is for you. Read on.

The Basics

As well as keeping you fit, cycling is fun - so it's important to ensure that indoor cycling gives you the same amount of enjoyment and satisfaction as an outdoor summer ride.

You'll be spending a fair amount of time in your 'pain cave', so it's a good idea to find a location that's practical and accessible. If you have the space for a dedicated, permanent location for your trainer, that's ideal. You don't need to go to extreme lengths but you do need to find something that works for you and your lifestyle. Get your sound system sorted out if you want to listen to music and aren't using headphones. Have a shelf or table in reachable distance for snacks and a towel. And be sure to check out these 5 useful hacks for setting up your trainer if you are just starting out.

Thanks to new technology, the days of staring at a wall on your indoor trainer are over. There's now a wide choice of apps available to give a more immersive and stimulating experience and many riders even use more than one app to mix things up and give variety. But for the sake of simplicity in this article, let's assume you are using the most realistic app available on the market now. That's right, you're using ROUVY.

screenshot of cyclists ascending a hiill on ROUVY

Why we ride

People ride indoors for different reasons. A big motive, and usually the most popular reason, is to stay fit and if you ride regularly, improved health and fitness will come. But there are other motives as well. Some people just want some 'me time', or an outlet for stress. Others enjoy the social/community aspect and others enjoy the ability to explore new routes and scenery in far-flung locations.

ROUVY has all these covered. For fitness, any route will do the trick if you ride regularly, but we also have a range of workouts for more specific fitness goals. The ROUVY catalogue of over 1000 AR routes has a wide variety of rides and you can also choose ones according to the number of people riding them, depending on whether you want some company or prefer just yourself and the open road. If you want a more competitive edge to your riding then, there are regular races and challenges. Group Rides are becoming increasingly popular and there's often a chance to ride with pro athletes and one of ROUVY's special ambassadors.

If you want to connect with other riders and increase your social network, we recommend joining the facebook group which has a thriving community of over 17k athletes. Here you can get tips, advice, news about upcoming events and even join up to sub-groups.

One of the unique appeals of ROUVY is its level of realism. Rather than using artificial computer-generated environments, ROUVY records its routes on video by a team of riders based around the world using Go-Pro cameras. So if one of your motives for riding is to travel and explore routes in other countries, ROUVY's immersive AR experience is the next best thing to actually going there… and much cheaper.

Let's Take it to the Next Level

It's perfectly fine to remain a casual rider. One of the many great things about cycling is that it can be enjoyed by everyone, and each for their own reasons at their own pace. But if you begin to get more serious about it, there are several ways to get deeper into the other aspects of cycling.

If you're into numbers, or really want to push yourself hard to get fitter, you'll probably want to get into the scientific side of fitness a little more. Again, you can go as deep into this as you want but a little understanding of the science behind it will help you understand your body's strengths…and limitations.

If you want to, something that's really worth doing once you've set up your trainer, is to figure out your own fitness level. This will help you decide what kind of rides you want to go on, and also set a baseline to track changes in your (hopefully improving) fitness levels.

This can be done with a FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test. This might seem daunting but it's not. It will only take 20 minutes and a little extra sweat, but it's worth it and will enable you to estimate the intensity you’re able to sustain while riding over a long period of time.

Other metrics that are useful (but not essential) to know and understand are watts, lactate threshold and VO2 Max. Armed with this information, you'll better understand how your body works, what it is capable of and how it is improving.

man riding an indoor cycle

Getting into a routine.

If getting fitter is your main motivation for riding, the importance of regular exercise and a routine cannot be overstressed. There are many many articles about the correct technique for getting fit, but as a general rule of thumb, this is useful to know: To maintain your current level of fitness, it is recommended to do approximately 3 x 30 minutes of exercise a week in which your heart rate is around 130 bpm. To increase your current level of fitness, it is recommended to do approximately 3 x 60 minutes of exercise a week or more. Maintaining this level will burn fat and increase muscle strength and stamina.

So the bottom line is that riding once a week will keep you fit but if you want to get fitter, you need to dedicate yourself at least three times. Finding the time to create a routine is often the tricky part. To help in this, ROUVY have created ROUVY Regulars - a structured programme of regular weekly rides - to help create a weekly routine you can stick to. We also have several training plans specially designed to help you in the area(s) you want to improve in. It's also easy to just explore the ROUVY's catalogue of over 1000 AR routes where you are sure to find something that grabs your attention and gives you the urge to try it.

Off-Bike Activities - Nutrition and Recovery

While your indoor cycling journey will naturally involve plenty of time in the saddle, there are other factors to consider for your well-being. Nutrition is a vital factor that shouldn't be ignored. If your body is burning up energy, you need to know how and why to replace it effectively. These 7 steps will give you a good overview of the essentials of nutrition and what to put into your body. Just as important, is knowing about proper resting and recovery periods. If these two are ignored, all the good work you do with riding can be undone.

old street bicycle loaded with apples and bananas

A common mistake made by riders who have just got a new trainer and are keen to try it out, is going in hard and fast in the early stages of getting fit and getting completely wiped out and demoralised. Building fitness is a slow, steady process that grows from building up your endurance and consistency levels. So think about the other factors than just putting more power through the pedals. Your body will thank you in the long term.

Indoor cycling is an ideal way of enjoying the benefits and joys of cycling all year round. For staying fit it's maybe even more effective than outdoor cycling as you have complete control of when and how you ride. So it's ideal for burning calories and weight loss in you have a balanced approach. The key to effective cycling when you are starting out is consistency - little and often - and if you choose an app like ROUVY, then it's easy to create a routine that works for you and helps you achieve your goals. Plus you get plenty of adventures exploring the routes of the world. It's a win-win scenario.

Have fun and let us know about your own personal indoor cycling experiences in the comments section below.

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