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The Importance of Indoor Training - by Eneas Freyre

With spring in full swing, we are all excited to hit the open roads and trails to test our winter fitness with the back drop of budding trees and colorful flowers.

If you are among those that have been training at TARGETRAINING in our indoor cycling and running program this past winter season, don’t be surprised if you find yourself fit and ready to roll. Perhaps your top end speed is not refined, or you don’t have the rhythm of being on opens roads in your legs yet, but there is no doubt that you are strong.

TARGETRAINING clients have proven time and time again that our indoor programming pays dividends when it comes to outdoor performance. So I cringe every time I hear someone say, “Thanks for the great indoor workouts; my fitness is fantastic, but I’m going to start training outdoors now.” Inevitably I’ll see these individuals again in short order, tan but slower. Don’t get me wrong, we all train indoors to be able to enjoy being outside and feel free as a bird, but the specificity of indoor training can and should be maintained to some extent during the spring and summer seasons.

We often recommend that if you can incorporate about 20-40% of all of your training sessions into an indoor setting, you can help keep your fitness strong all year long. For most of us this may be 2 or 3 sessions a week, a small commitment to be able to be at the front over the weekend with your friends.

Why does our program work? Very simple.  We keep you exercising consistently and targeting an average intensity of 80% which is a great way to improve endurance, and stimulate the ever important limiter of “metabolic threshold.”  To boil in down even further, we help you burn fat and more of it over time which is the key to going longer and stronger. Sure you could do this outside, but with the dynamics of inconsistent terrain, the draft effects of group training, and of course the time constraints that most of us have, you will be hard pressed to replicate a 1hr TARGETorque or Tread session outdoors.

One of the most successful international triathletes of 2011, Andy Potts, is known to perform as much as 80% of his training all indoors on the bike. This is an amazing testament to his focus and legitimizes the benefits of a highly controlled training setting. Check out this great interview with him here.

One of our long time TARGETRAINING clients, Brad Hardy, will train indoors all year long and has been doing specific indoor run sessions and bike sessions as an integral part of his training program as he prepares to compete in this year’s age group Duathlon National Championships at the end of April. Brad expands on this thought by saying "Indoor training during the summer months is an important part of my training because it allows me to include very specific high intensity sessions along with outdoor rides that offer more variation due to traffic and terrain."

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words so below you will find two graphs.

The 1st graph was generated in one of our Wednesday indoor cycling hill classes which focused on steady zone 3 work with some light sitting and standing intervals. The session was only 1:10 min in length, but the time spent in zone 3 was almost 40min! That is quite efficient when you consider a warm up and cool down. The 2nd graph was produced from our recent spring classic ride which included cycling to and from the event so for a whopping 5hr ride only about 60min was spent in the critical zone 3 area. Yes, the Classic was fun, but if I want to get an efficient workout in during the middle of the week, I’ll stick with a quick 1hr indoor ride that has specific zone distribution targets.

zone chart 1

zone chart 2





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