Cycling Knowledge Base Strength Training Winter

5 Essential and Effective Indoor Cycling Training Sessions

High-intensity indoor training is fun and improve your fitness. The 2PEAK Training Program not only gets you safely through the winter but also makes you stronger and more versatile.

Indoor Training in Endurance Sports

In our latitudes, despite all the warming, we have an unfavourable ratio of cycling-friendly and unfriendly weather. If you have a “normal” job, you hardly ever get to train on your bike in daylight during the winter months. An alternative is to put the bike on the roller or pedal on an ergometer.

That way you can escape the horrors of the ice and darkness. Indoor workouts, however, are perceived by many cyclists as just as terrible as winter rides. It is guaranteed not to get too cold, but too warm quickly. The lack of wind makes the body easily overheat. In addition, roller training offers little distraction for the senses.

Only hardcore cyclists voluntarily step on the spot for more than an hour. But you can make a virtue out of this necessity. Shorter training sessions can be made more qualitative in terms of content and thus set completely new stimuli. And that’s exactly what training is all about, targeted stimuli.

Set hard stimuli

Indoor training offers good conditions for hard stimuli: possible at any time, no traffic and full control. Targeted training is best achieved when training with a power meter or an ergometer that has a power and cadence display.

With a power display, you can set clear goals and have an immediate control of success, which has an enormously motivating effect. Heart rate is only a reliable guide up to Zone 2 training range. Above that, it reacts too sluggishly and is often not yet at the target level before the interval is over. There is one thing that most qualitative roll training has in common: the net training time is extremely short. Even with just a few minutes per week, you can make significant progress. More time than for the actual training is spent on warming up and cooling down!

30 seconds are already enough

Even a series of sprints over 30 seconds per week is enough to achieve a strong Training Effect, if the power is chosen high enough. This is the result of current research. With a sprint training program of six HIT units (HIT = High Intensity Training) of four to seven sprints each, completed within two weeks, beginners were able to make significant progress.

The most astonishing thing about it: the sprint training doubled the endurance capacity. This was measured with athletes who were able to run at the anaerobic threshold. It is surprising that of all things, a training that is commonly referred to as “anaerobic” has such a strong effect on aerobic performance. The results indicate that significant performance limits are at the muscular level.

The glycogen that can be stored in the muscles, the most important fuel for intensive exercise, increased by 26% during the short training period. Several studies show similar positive effects in well-trained athletes. It is important to plan at least 48 hours of recovery between two HIT trainings. Too short regeneration times, according to the results of one study, cancel out the training effect.

Extending an intensive sprint program from two weeks to six weeks results in further physiological adjustments: maximum oxygen intake increases and fat burning improves. The overall athletic performance level is pulled up by intense training.

Intense indoor training can therefore compensate for the fact that you spend fewer hours on the bike in winter. They also offer the chance to start the new season stronger. During the winter, in addition to working slowly for months on the so-called foundation and laying a ‘base‘, integrating intensive/qualitative training enables faster progress.

Those who use the method less from November to March do not create optimal conditions for new personal bests and will at best return to the level of the previous year. If you want more, you have to do more. Supplement the indoor training with at least one long (3+ hours) endurance training outside per week. If cycling is not possible, you can switch to other sports.

Exercise 1 – Speed
  • 20′ warm up
  • 10 x 6-15″ maximum speed, each 45″ recovery
  • 10′ cool down

Procedure: For 6-15 seconds each time try to reach a maximum speed. Then pedal loosely at normal cadence for 45 seconds. Select resistance only high enough to allow proper pedaling.

TIP: Be careful not to start jumping off the saddle

Exercise 2 – Strength endurance and technique
  • 10′ warm up
  • 3-5 x 6′ Z3 at 40-50 rpm, between repetitions 2′ loosely, turn up to 120 rpm briefly
  • 10′ cool down

Procedure: Pay attention to the pedaling technique. Stretch and lift legs consciously. Keep upper body calm. If you get out of breath, the resistance is too high. Zone 3 pulse and power level is sufficient, because the low speed increases the power component of the workout significantly!

TIP: For an optimal pedal, visualize a fluid up and down and no circular motion! Use the highest gear to achieve maximum resistance with small brakes.

Exercise 3 – VO2max training
  • 20′ warm up
  • 10×30″/30″ Z5 (120% threshold power) at >100 rpm; 30″ rest each at Z2
  • 10′ cool down

Procedure: Alternate 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds rest. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to hit the right performance level without a power meter (orientation: maximum power you can hold for four minutes at a time). Do not start with maximum intensity! The goal is to achieve an even power level over all repetitions. The heart rate monitor is worthless for this. By feeling: initially high resistance for the muscles, but not exhaustive for breathing. After the first two intervals it is usually easier. Then the effort slowly increases due to incomplete recovery. The heart rate climbs in waves and can become maximum towards the end.

TIP: As your form improves, slowly build up to 2 sets of 12 at 30″/30″. Series break then 5 minutes. This exercise can be performed well on most small rolls.

Exercise 4 – Sprint endurance
  • 20′ warm up
  • 4-7 x 30″ Z5 (160% threshold power) at >100 rpm; 4′ rest each at Z2
  • 10′ cool down

Procedure: After a loose warm up the first interval starts as a long sprint over 30 seconds. The power level is high – about 150% MP4, about 500-700 W. The goal is to achieve the highest possible CONTINUOUS power. If you don’t have a power meter, just kick what your body and roll will give you for 30 seconds. The recovery time between intervals is at least four minutes – kick lightly at low power for complete recovery. At this level of performance, many small rollers slowly reach their limits.

TIP: The high performance level makes differences in pedaling style noticeable. Experiment with the easiest way to reach the performance level. Try different gears and pedaling styles.

Exercise 5 – Maximum sprints
  • 20′ warm up
  • 4-7 x 30″ maximum intensity at >100 rpm; 4′ rest at Z2 level
  • 10′ cool down

Procedure: The sprints differ from exercise 4 in that you start at the highest possible speed and try to maintain it for as long as possible (whereas in exercise 4 you try to be as fast as possible for the entire 30 seconds. In exercise 4 you don’t start at maximum speed because you want to maintain it for the full 30 seconds). After a relaxed warm-up, the first interval begins. Against a high resistance, start in high gear and accelerate at maximum speed. After six seconds the performance usually starts to decrease. Continue the sprint over the 30 seconds as best you can.

Only a few ergometers allow this kind of load, because in the beginning the sprint can have a power of more than 1.000 watts. Therefore the performance is limited to the most stable and powerful machines. The training effect is somewhat stronger than in exercise four. Do not ride these sprints on a spinning bike with a rigid hub – risk of injury!

TIP: Before training one hundred per cent, it is good to have the doctor’s permission.

Which exercise when?

A) Preparation – four weeks: once a week, exercise 1 and exercise 2. First speed then strength training.

B) Build up program – six weeks: select a type from exercises 3-5 and train this unit twice a week for six weeks in increasing intensity/scope. Allow two days intervals between two intensive workouts. Loose training in between is no problem.

C) Maintenance program – combine one exercise from 1-2 with one exercise from 3-5 per week.


Warm up: increase slowly from lower Z2 to middle Z3. Keep speed high (90-100 rpm).
Cool down: drop power from middle to lower Z2 to Z1. Pedal smoothly (90-100 rpm). Supplement the specific indoor training with general outdoor endurance training: train for 3+ hours at least once a week.

Other articles on indoor cycling that might interest you:


Create a training plan for triathlon, cycling, and running based on artificial intelligence with 2PEAK that adapts to your performance after each training. Download the app and start revolutionizing your training.