How to make the most of the indoor trainer

January 11, 2016

Kristin Butcher

Image: Dome Poon

Face it. The indoor trainer isn’t the hero we want, it’s the hero we love to hate. There are plenty of reasons why people choose to ride indoors, but right now even more so because of icy roads and wintery conditions. That means hoards of disgruntled bike riders are finally clearing the laundry from atop their indoor trainers.

Training regimens depend largely on whether your goals are to be in peak racing condition come spring or to guiltlessly polish off that extra helping of dessert. Whatever the motivations for getting your spinning fix indoors, here are some ways to make trainer time more enjoyable.

Image: Becky Stern

  • Develop a positive association: If it worked for Pavlov’s dog, it can work for you. Wireless headphones let you spend spin time indulging in your favorite television series, podcast, or crank up Taylor Swift without anyone being the wiser.
  • Get social. If you thrive on being accountable to others or love riding for the social aspect, sign up for a spin class or invite your fellow spandex warriors to bring their trainers over for a basement trainer party.
  • Have a plan and a place. For those who loathe trainer time, every obstacle in the way can be the one that makes you say you’ll do it tomorrow instead. Know ahead of time how long your ride will be and the goals of the training session, and if possible, set up a permanent “training area.”


  • It’s a brave new world for indoor training. Though not cheap, there are new applications like Zwift that turn training time into game time. Compete with others or against yourself and enjoy the fun of riding in a group even if you’re the only one home.
  • Rock the rollers. Rollers require a level of balance and attentiveness not necessary on trainers that attach to the bike. Riding rollers can improve core strength and stability while keeping a rider’s head in the game, but as plenty of YouTube videos can attest, wearing a helmet might not be a bad idea.
  • Turn your favorite drinking game into an interval session. Make the most of recurring moments in your favorite television shows by sprinting every time they happen. From canned laughter to a Game of Thrones character kicking the bucket, these can be good excuses to hit your top speed every now and again.

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