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  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • - Welcome back to the Triathlon Training Explained show,

  • powered by TrainingPeaks, now if from time

  • to time you are riding indoors, perhaps

  • on a Turbo Trainer as I am today,

  • then you will have quite likely

  • at some point complained that it feels somewhat hard,

  • or maybe considerably harder than when you ride outdoors.

  • Your heart rate's higher, your power's lower,

  • your FTP maybe feels a bit out

  • of reach, what is going on, well you'll be pleased

  • to know that you are definitely not alone.

  • Today, I'm gonna be exploring that conundrum and be looking

  • at how it happens and what you can do about it.

  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • Now, I must admit there have been times that I've jumped

  • on the indoor trainer and I've wondered,

  • what the heck is going in with my legs?

  • And it can really play with your head

  • because effort just seems so much harder to achieve.

  • Sometimes, impossible whereas normally you're knocking 'em

  • out of the park when you're outside on the road.

  • So, what do we think is happening?

  • Well, I've been out and I've asked you just that.

  • Now, why is it harder, indoor training?

  • - Because you don't get any rest.

  • You have to keep going all the time.

  • You're not able to glide and you

  • have to keep it in the zone or rate area

  • which is much more difficult when you're on the bike.

  • - The thing I find hard about indoor training

  • is that there's no distractions,

  • there's no changing gears, there's no steering,

  • there's no needing to be aware of traffic.

  • So, you really have to focus on

  • the pain, and how much it hurts.

  • - I think it's because of the heat

  • and you don't have the wind coming against

  • you cooling you down, so you can easily

  • overheat which can make you feel

  • like you are putting in much more

  • effort than you actually are.

  • - It's a definite love/hate relationship

  • with the indoor trainer, and it

  • makes training a lot harder.

  • There's no free wheeling, coasting,

  • sitting behind people, there's constant

  • tension on the chain as you're pushing

  • through the session.

  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • - Well, there are some very good theories there,

  • but let's see what the science says.

  • Now, one theory is that it's due

  • to a reduced cooling effect.

  • See, the human body has quite

  • a small and finite range it can

  • efficiently operate in, and that's

  • between 36.5 and 37.5 degrees Celsius,

  • and this is what's considered

  • our normal body temperature.

  • Now, if we go just a fraction above that

  • we can start to feel a little bit off

  • and actually, our training like

  • cycling might start to feel a

  • bit more laboured.

  • If we just go about three degrees

  • Celsius above maybe to around

  • 40 degrees Celsius

  • we can really start to feel quite bad,

  • and actually we can start to

  • experience the onset of hyperthermia.

  • Now, obviously when we're cycling indoors

  • we are stationary, but our bodies

  • are still creating vast amounts

  • of this energy to power our legs

  • and keep things working.

  • So, this is where things get really interesting

  • because the cells that are in our body

  • actually get their energy from food

  • and then creating and using that

  • through ATP molecules, and they

  • are then used to make our body work

  • and make our legs work, and we have to cycle.

  • Through this whole conversion,

  • it's actually only an overall efficiency

  • of around 25% that's actually used

  • to make our legs work.

  • The other 75% is, wait for it,

  • is lost through heat.

  • So, if you take a cyclist cruising along

  • outside at about 30 k.p.h.

  • Their experience, a nice wind, a nice breeze,

  • a bit of headwind.

  • That's equivalent of a big big ol' fan

  • around 30 k.p.h or perhaps even more

  • depending on the conditions.

  • When we're riding inside, that headwind

  • that breeze, it's all gone.

  • So, you can start to understand

  • how the body starts to feel

  • the effects of this heat, and it

  • starts to respond in a few ways.

  • Firstly, we have a slight increase in our heart rate.

  • Secondly, the blood starts to

  • shunt, and move away from our muscles

  • in an attempt to dissipate the heat.

  • So, it goes towards our skin to try to relieve

  • that heat out of our body,

  • but through doing so it's obviously

  • taking oxygen away from our muscles

  • which then might start to experience

  • a slight loss in power.

  • Another way it tries to dissipate the heat

  • is through sweat, and in doing so

  • we can end up feeling slightly more dehydrated

  • and again, a loss in performance.

  • Also, as temperatures really rise

  • then our head and our brain literally

  • cook, meaning it leads to a decrease

  • in motivation, concentration,

  • and perhaps even lowering our pain threshold.

  • But, of course we all know that,

  • that's why we use a fan.

  • A fan is there to essentially

  • recreate the wind to try to keep

  • us cool, to wick the sweat away

  • from our skin, and stop us from overheating.

  • What I would say, is that I know

  • from experience that I am pretty

  • much always dripping with sweat

  • when I get off an indoor training session,

  • despite having a fan.

  • So, perhaps it does contribute

  • in some way to making indoor training harder.

  • Now, another theory is that it's

  • due to being in a fixed position.

  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • So, without the ability to actually

  • move the bike, we're causing ourselves

  • to use more isolated muscles,

  • that perhaps aren't used to working quite so hard.

  • When we ride outside on the road,

  • we're able to shift our body weight around,

  • get a powerful bike, move the bike around.

  • In turn, we can start using more muscle groups,

  • even our upper body, our core,

  • as well as obviously our legs

  • to really help produce as much power

  • as possible, and actually, through

  • doing that we can allow some muscles

  • to recover and rest, whilst others

  • are working to overall help to

  • produce as much power as possible.

  • Another thing athletes do complain about

  • is that some muscles, or certain areas

  • of muscles might hurt.

  • Such as, adductors coming up the inside of the leg.

  • That's a real classic one because

  • when we're riding outdoors we

  • don't tend to utilise and use

  • those muscles quite so much.

  • They seem to get quite a hammering

  • when we're riding indoors and that

  • can really contribute to a slight loss in power.

  • What I would say is that, with

  • time when you're riding indoors,

  • you will start to train those

  • muscles up, condition them,

  • get better at using them,

  • and hopefully start to find

  • it's less slightly of an effort.

  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • The indoor trainer also has the

  • ability to suck the life out of

  • even the most motivated of athletes.

  • So, if you're riding indoors,

  • maybe in your garage, your dark garage

  • next to your lawn mower, and a bunch of tools;

  • Let's be honest, that is nowhere

  • near as motivating as riding outside

  • on the road, on a clear sunny day.

  • So, if you're not as motivated

  • that is going to contribute

  • to a loss in power.

  • So, what I would say is for indoor training

  • try to tailor your sessions specifically

  • for indoor training, keep them engaging

  • keep them interesting, keep that body guessing.

  • Try to make them slightly shorter, more intense.

  • Maybe don't do quite so many of

  • the longer rides indoors, otherwise

  • you are just going to mentally burn yourself out.

  • On that note, also things like Zwift, and other

  • virtual indoor training platforms are great

  • for keeping you interested, and engaged

  • in indoor training.

  • (upbeat energetic music)

  • But, the big reason I believe

  • comes from the indoor trainer itself,

  • or at least from some indoor trainers.

  • See, when you're cycling outside on the road

  • and you stop peddling, you coast,

  • you just keep on going,

  • But when you're inside on an indoor

  • trainer, and you stop cycling,

  • you pretty much come to a

  • stop within seconds, or at least,

  • on some indoor trainers.

  • So, what's happening is when you're outside

  • you have the momentum from your

  • own body weight, your bike weight,

  • and that just keeps you going

  • so you can free wheel, and you

  • can come off the gas and coast.

  • Whereas, inside on an indoor trainer,

  • you have a flywheel that's attached

  • to the resistance unit, and what

  • that flywheel tries to do is,

  • it tries to replicate that feeling

  • of riding outside on the road.

  • But, from experience, and we all know this,

  • It doesn't really do it that well.

  • So, what you're having to do is

  • work harder to try and maintain that momentum.

  • Because of this flywheel, it also

  • changes the way that we apply force

  • throughout the peddle strikes.

  • So, when we're cycling outside on the road

  • you may think that you're applying force

  • evenly and smoothly throughout

  • the whole peddle strike, but in actual fact

  • what you're probably doing is

  • applying force through the down stroke,

  • and that is also aiding the recovery

  • of the other leg back up to the top

  • of the stroke, and vice versa.

  • This all changes slightly when we start

  • to go up a hill, because we need

  • to apply force throughout the whole

  • peddle strike to maintain that momentum,

  • otherwise we'll either fall off our bike

  • or fall back down the hill, and that

  • is very similar to when we are riding

  • on an indoor trainer due to that

  • flywheel, and that inertia that we've

  • got to overcome on the flywheel,

  • and try to maintain that momentum.

  • Now, all of these factors are contributing

  • to what is making it harder,

  • and considerably harder than when we'd

  • ride out on the road where we've got

  • minimal resistance from tyres

  • and from wind for instance.

  • But, fortunately these issues are

  • becoming less and less, due to

  • advances in the flywheels.

  • We've got bigger flywheels on the dumb trainers

  • but most importantly, it's due to

  • these smart trainers, and direct drive trainers

  • as I'm using today.