Nine ways to make your turbo sessions more enjoyable

Training indoors is often a necessary evil during the winter, but it doesn't have to be a bad experience

Image shows a rider using a turbo trainer indoors
(Image credit: Future)

There are a host of training aids available these days to make the session fly by and there are plenty of other ways to keep you interested while going through your paces in your pain cave.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your motivation to the end of the session, starting with a bit of visual entertainment.

1. Sign up for an indoor training app


Ride Mont Ventoux in your garage

(Image credit: Wahoo RGT)

The number one way to keep motivated on a session is to sign yourself up to one of the best indoor training apps

There's a huge range of different apps available now, all of which give you interactive graphics as you ride and, paired with a smart turbo trainer, or even a dumb trainer with the appropriate accessories, make an indoor session much more fun than of old.

Whether you want to compete against others, follow a training programme or just get paced by an in-app bot, there's an option for you. Who knows, you might win Zwift Academy and be riding pro next year.

2. Watch a training video

Paris-Roubaix Femmes 2022

Watch a vid to stay motivated without risking a crash

(Image credit: Pauline Ballet/ASO)

It's strange, but watching a video of other people cycling does seem to motivate you to pedal harder yourself.

There are plenty of YouTube videos online featuring highlights of races like the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix or Liege-Bastogne-Liege and with the right subscription you can watch the whole thing on demand too.

There may be no chance that you'll keep up with Jonas Vingegaard on a climb, but it's good to see how he does it and nice to pretend.

3. Buy yourself a fan


(Image credit: mike prior)

You can have the best workout planned, all the entertainment in the world and the endurance of Lachlan Morton, but if you train inside without a fan you'll be drenched in sweat in minutes.

Out on the roads you have the luxury of the wind to cool you down, but in your house it all gets a bit stuffy. So do yourself a favour and buy a cheap desk fan, set it up in a place that blows on your face and pedal away. Or better still, you can buy Wahoo's interactive Kickr Headwind fan, that varies the intensity of the air blasted at you, ramping up its speed as you do.

You may also want to put down a towel or training mat to protect your floor or carpet, as even with a fan you'll sweat relentlessly anyway.  It's a good idea to keep sweat off your bike too, as the salt can over time corrode expensive components.

4. Have a structured workout

Image shows a rider completing a cycling workout.

(Image credit: Future)

Sometimes you just want to get on your turbo to get your legs turning and keep yourself active in the winter. In that case, simply pedalling for an hour or so can be beneficial.

But more and more riders are using their turbo to keep to a structured training plan over the winter to ensure they hit the spring in good shape. Therefore having some kind of plan can help stave off the monotony of just pedalling at the same cadence.

Whether you want to ride at a certain cadence, close to your maximum heart rate or an average speed - a detailed plan can keep you interested for longer. Take a look at Cycling Weekly's Workout Of The Week for inspiration.

Buyer's guide to turbo trainers

5. Binge watch that Netflix series


(Image credit: Claire Collins)

If you spend a rainy Sunday laying on the couch binge watching the latest series on Netflix, why not set up your turbo in front of the screen and pedal as you watch?

If you hate the fact that your favourite programmes are over too quickly, watching them on the turbo will make them feel a lot longer.

But make sure you don't watch a programme where the characters have the propensity to mumble or talk very quietly, as the noise of the turbo is likely to have you reaching for the rewind button.

6. Train with other people


(Image credit: Daniel Gould)

There's a reason why spinning sessions are all the rage now - training with other people can help your motivation and make sure you don't sack off your session early.

You don't have to pack your living room with 20 other people, but recruiting your partner or a friend to train as well can help you share the pain. That's where the best indoor training apps come in too, giving you someone (or at least a bot) to keep pace with and letting you message each other as you ride.

If you're doing the same workout as other people you can encourage each other through the tough parts and make the session go so much quicker.

7. Mix it up with intervals

(Photo: Andrew McCandlish)

(Photo: Andrew McCandlish)

As part of your structured training plan you should factor some intervals into your sessions, giving yourself something to look forward to (or dread) throughout the workout.

Rather than going hell for leather for 45 minutes, simply mix some sprints or high resistance bursts into your session and then return to your normal cadence. It's been shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can make big fitness gains without needing to spend so much time exercising.

Not only will it keep you focussed on what you're doing, it'll also help with your fitness and form on the bike, so it's win-win!

8. Try rollers instead


(Image credit: Future)

If you're easily bored, maybe riding a turbo isn't for you. You can still train indoors using rollers though, which require a lot more concentration.

The other principal benefit of rollers is that you don't have to clamp your bike into a machine. You simply chuck the wheels on top of the rollers and start pedalling.

Except it isn't as simple as that - it's incredibly difficult to balance at first, meaning you'll probably have to hold onto a door frame/wall/sofa in order to stay upright. But once you've mastered the art of balancing, the rollers can do wonders for your bike handling when you're back out on the roads. They're a great workout to up your cadence and smooth out your pedal stroke too.

9. Finish the session with cake

Fitness diet danger zones

(Image credit: chris catchpole)

We all love cake. You'd probably have a piece of cake at a cafe stop on a club run, so why not treat yourself after a tough turbo session.

It may not help much with your training plan, but we can't be held responsible for that...

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1