RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
Friends of RAGBRAI

Training blog

RAGBRAI Training: Indoor Training and Weight Training Suggestions

There were some questions in our training blog about how to do indoor training until the weather improves enough to ride outside.  We’ve enjoyed a very mild winter in Iowa and have been able to get outside on  weekends.  But usually, between the ice and snow and the darkness, indoor cycling is something we need to resort to.  Indoor trainers can also be used on rainy days or when you don’t get home from work until after dark.   I will give you some suggestions on how to get the most out of your indoor workouts without driving yourself batty in the process.   I have actually written an ebook on this subject, “Indoor Training For Cyclists”.  I will give you the highlights from this book. 

There are a variety of indoor trainers.  There are spin bikes at gyms where you can do spin classes.  Spin classes are a great way to build cycling fitness.   Usually you can ride these spin bikes on your own when there isn’t a class in session.  You can also get a variety of indoor trainers where your rear wheel mounts on them.  The most common types are wind, magnetic and fluid trainers.  They all have their advantages and disadvantages so check them out at your local bike shop.  When riding an indoor trainer, it is very difficult, especially mentally, so you don’t want to try to do long endurance rides on your trainer.  Instead, pick up the intensity a little and you can get a good workout in an hour or less.

A lot of bike computers run off the front wheel, which is stationary on indoor trainers, so you can’t tell how fast your are riding.  But the good news is all you need is a watch or a clock and ride by feel.  It’s okay just to get on and pedal at whatever pace you wish.  Any riding beats sitting on the couch!  However, if you want to try to increase fitness you should try picking up the pace.   For example, after a warmup, increase your effort until it feels somewhat hard and your breathing increases.  Hold this pace for one minute, then back off to your easy pace for two minutes.  You can repeat this pattern for 30 minutes or so, then ride easily for a few minutes for a cool down.  You can use any combination of intervals that you can dream up.  Part of the benefit of timed intervals is they make the time go by faster.   The important thing is to get your heart rate up, breath hard and work up a sweat. You can also play around with different gears and cadences, and adjust the resistance on your trainer if yours has such an adjustment.

I’ve also received some questions about weight training.  There are a number of reasons you should consider doing some strength training but the most important have to do with building balanced fitness and bone density.  Cycling is great for the muscles from the waist down but doesn’t do much for the arms, shoulders and core.  So, to complement your cycling strength you should do some strength training that incorporates your arms, shoulders and back.  A few exercises such as chest press, pulldowns, overhead presses and rows will do the trick.  Also, don’t forget your core muscles.  These are important for stability while riding and efficient transfer of power from your handlebars down to your pedals.  The other issue is bone density.  There are some reports that cycling leads to lower bone density than other types of exercise.  Unlike running where your legs and spine have to hold you upright, cycling is not a weight-bearing exercise. Your bike holds you up.  So while riding your bike is great for cardiovascular fitness, it doesn’t help your bones.  Strength training can help to do so.  It will also help make your fitness more well rounded.  Aim for one or two strength training sessions per week.  These only have to take 20 to 30 minutes per session.  If you are unsure how to do these exercises properly, seek some help from your local fitness center. This time of year is a great time to get started on some upper body work.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on preparation for your best RAGBRAI yet!

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach and Personal Trainer. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, the Iowa JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes Team, the Above & Beyond Cancer RAAM Team, and he coaches individual cyclists.  He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com

3 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: Indoor Training and Weight Training Suggestions

Still Trying To Ride My Way Lean | My (first) Century

February 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm

[…] although I often felt like I was making it up as I went. Today, I read an excellent article on the RAGBRAI Training Blog in which TJ Juskiewicz advises using “any combination of intervals that you can dream […]

Fitness Trainer Orange County

March 6, 2012 at 3:39 am

Wow, amazing weblog layout! How long have you ever been blogging for? you made blogging glance easy. The full look of your web site is magnificent, as smartly as the content material!

Weight Training Program

July 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Nice article! Great post about By: Still Trying To Ride My Way Lean | My (first) Century! You efforts putting this blog together was worth the while. Well put Still.

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • RAGBRAI XLIII Survey Results

    A big Thank You to all the riders, support personnel, and volunteers who made RAGBRAI XLIII such a huge success.  We had 4735 respond to our online surveys providing a ...

  • My RAGBRAI Story: An Inspirational Tale from a First Time RAGBRAIer

    RAGBRAI XLIII was the culmination of a process that brought me from the edge of personal disaster to the brink of a new life. Just nineteen months ago I ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: Reflections on RAGBRAI from a Training Perspective

    RAGBRAI is over for another year. Congratulations on riding more than 400 miles in one week (or however many miles you rode). Not many people ever ride their ...

  • Congratulations to Ben Behrends for Winning the RAGBRAI Kid's Art Contest

    We would like to congratulate all the young artists throughout Iowa who drew, painted or scultured RAGBRAI masterpieces leading up to RAGBRAI. We hope you saw some of the ...

  • RAGBRAI® XLIII Lost and Found

    Do you recognize anything in this photo?  Several lost items were turned into us throughout the week including cell phones, keys, bike computers, eyewear and more.  All owners of wallets, ...

  • 20 RAGBRAI photos: Blue skies and countrysides

    20 RAGBRAI Photos: Blue Skies and Countrysides

  • 15 RAGBRAI photos: Creative costumes of the ride

    See some of the most outlandish outfits of RAGBRAI 2015.

  • 10 RAGBRAI photos: Not your average bikes

    We found (at least some of) the weirdest bikes traveling the RAGBRAI route.

  • 12 RAGBRAI photos: Dance it out

    RAGBRAI is a party on and off the bicycle. We collected 2015's best dancing photos.

  • 15 RAGBRAI photos: Catching the sunrise

    A classic RAGBRAI photo is the cyclist silhouetted against an Iowa sunrise.

Latest Videos

  • We made a new camel friend, played human foos-ball and did the required slip and sliding. Relive the 2015 RAGBRAI ride with some of our favorite moments. And get ready for the 2016 route announcement party in January.

  • "This is my gift to you guys," said pool owner Bud Henson whose house is right along the RAGBRAI route this year in Moscow, IA.

  • First time RAGBRAI rider experiences Iowa on two wheels.

  • All Ability Cycles gives bicycle rides to residents of the Hiawatha Care Center on Friday, July 24, 2015. The group gives rides to senior residents along the RAGBRAI route.

  • Jabara the camel stole the show in Mount Vernon for RAGBRAI.

  • DM Register scribes scarf more rhubarb cream pie than NPR!

  • Tony Ron, of Fort Dodge, sells jewelry made of recycled bicycle spokes to pay for a flight and visa to Ecuador.

  • Patty Ankrum explains a project in Mount Vernon to take advantages of the thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists passing through.

  • Hundreds of riders flock to Team Google's complimentary charging tent set up in the RAGBRAI meetup town.

  • Taking advantage of a creek that runs through Shellsberg, the Air Force RAGBRAI team held their own mini-triathlon to stay cool in the water.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2015 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy