Indoor Training 101

Indoor training can be daunting, but you don’t need to be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefits of a solid indoor riding setup. If you aren’t able to attend one of Bike Depots Sufferfest sessions, creating a basic indoor setup is a simple and efficient way of getting in those winter KMs so you’ll be ready to crush your first group ride or race of the season. From just moving your legs a little to structured training plans, here is our guide to indoor training and what you will need to get things going.

The Basics

Contrary to what Peloton ads will have you believe, the best space for your trainer set-up is somewhere well ventilated and out of the way. Having a nearby window and a powerful fan are imperative to your ability to train indoors, don’t underestimate how quickly you'll warm up without the natural wind of outdoor riding. Ideally you’ll be able to keep the bike on the trainer at all times, but as we live in Toronto and space is literally $1000/sqft that's not always realistic. When you’re feeling unmotivated to ride, sometimes the hardest step is getting on the bike. Try your best to make sure your bike is somewhere easily accessible and you can quickly throw it on the trainer and get going, without having to add too many extra steps to your setup.

Unless you plan on very intimately learning every imperfection on your wall, it’s best to have a table for a TV/laptop in front of your bike. Alternatively, there are many creative ways to attach your phone to your bike. We particularly like this one as it serves a double purpose in covering your top tube from sweat. It may seem excessive (“I won’t sweat THAT much!”) but drips of salty sweat will, over time, cause serious corrosive damage to your top tube and headset. Similarly, we also recommend putting down a yoga mat, towel or training mat under your bike/trainer to avoid damaging your floor with your salty secretions.

All trainers will be interacting with the rear area of your bike - either applying pressure to the tire or replacing the rear wheel completely. You want the front wheel to be stable and unmoving (unless you’re using rollers). Riser blocks keep your bike stable and give you the option to simulate climbing by elevating the front of your bike.

Trainers etc.

Before you decide on which trainer to buy, think about where you are in your current training, and where you hope to be in the future. Here we break down some possible equipment combinations but feel free to take elements from different packages to build a setup that feels right for you. As students, we understand that training is subject to budget restrictions and highly personal but we assure you, it is possible to get in solid indoor training with any level of equipment!


  • Trains: 1-2 times per week
  • Goals: Enjoy a bit of physical activity in the winter.
  • Trainer: A basic fluid or magnetic resistance trainer. With any trainer that makes contact with the rear wheel, it’s important to use an indoor training tire. These tires are specially made to not wear down from constant direct contact with the trainer and won’t cause any damage to the trainer itself. They also help prevent slippage during those high-intensity efforts.
  • Metrics: Heart rate monitor. You can use your basic heart rate zones to figure out how hard you are going. This kind of data is useful for getting a basic idea of how hard you are pushing, and over time you will come to learn how your heart rate increases and how this relates to your effort level.
  • Training: There are tons of free youtube videos that are fun to follow along. You will quickly figure out how hard to go as the bars on the bottom right increase and decrease. Pro tip: If EDM remixes of 80s pop music aren’t your thing, mute the youtube video and check out our UTRR certified indoor training Spotify mix. If you aren’t feeling a harder ride, fire up netflix and put on something engaging. Club president Boris Dyakov recommends action films; “you’ll find yourself pedaling harder during the fight scenes without even realizing!”


  • Trains: 2-4 times per week
  • Goals: Maintain fitness over the winter, improve in certain area
  • Trainer: Any trainer will do, such as a fluid or magnetic resistance trainer described above, but also consider rollers. Rollers are a fun option for cyclists looking to add a bit of excitement to their indoor training. There are many benefits to using rollers, such as increased stability and core strength. We recommend them specifically for speed work - the practice of developing a high cadence. Rollers are also very handy for warming up before races!
  • Metrics:
    Heart rate (see above).
    Speed and cadence. Once you are able to track your speed and cadence, you will be able virtually generate an “estimated power output”. This is measured in watts, and is the major metric used in virtual training programs such as Zwift and Trainer Road. Because you won’t be able to measure your exact power output without a power meter or smart trainer (more on that in a bit), it’s important to specify in the settings exactly which trainer you are using, as the estimated power calculations take this into account. It’s also important to be consistent in how tightly the barrel is in contact with the wheel, and to keep the tire pressure the same over time.
  • Training: Zwift is a virtual training application that allows the user to train and race against people from all over the world. This gamification helps to encourage the user to ride more and harder, and it also offers various workout plans and lots of customization. If you’re using your computer to run zwift, check if your speed sensors are bluetooth compatible. If not, you’ll need an ANT+ dongle to connect to your speed sensors.


  • Trains: 5+ times per week
  • Goals: Increase fitness, target specific weaknesses, increase FTP
  • Trainer: As above, any trainer will work. But nothing beats a direct-drive smart trainer for those who are taking their training seriously and want the greatest indoor training experience possible.
  • Metrics:
    Heart rate (see above)
    Speed and cadence (see above)
    Power Power (measured in watts) will either come from a smart trainer or from a power meter. Knowing your power is the ultimate training metric. There are countless resources available for learning how to train with power data, just like the pros. It really is the most objective measure of the capabilities of your fitness. In addition to making your virtual rides and workouts much more immersive, smart trainers can also measure your power output in the same way as a power meter.
  • Training: Our favorite training application is TrainerRoad. It provides structured training plans for all types of cyclists. Most rides are accompanied by commentary from a cycling coach, giving you tips and prompts to get the most out of your workout. There are hundreds of ride options and prebuilt training plans, each tailored to different training goals or target events.If you want to delve deeper into your training data, TrainingPeaks offers a more complex analysis of all of your metrics and helps to satisfy all your bike nerd desires.

We hope this guide has given you the push to get your indoor setup going! DM us a picture of your personal pain cave on instagram @UTRR_Official and you’ll be entered to win a UTRR cycling cap! #UTRRpaincave

By Lily - Posted on March 26, 2019