How to balance indoor and outdoor riding for maximum fitness gains

what is the best way to achieve your best cycling fitness? It is best to combine those beautiful outdoor miles with the quality and efficiency of indoor training. This is how you try to reach your maximum level of fitness with a minimum of effort.

For some, nothing beats the feeling of getting on a bike. The fresh air in your hair and the sense of accomplishment when you take a break on the local climbs.

But for those of us with busy lives and jobs, there’s a much more efficient way to exercise. Indoor riding means no traffic lights, no cars, no rain and it’s simply the highest quality workout you can get.

However, very few of us only want to drive indoors or outdoors. There has to be a sweet spot. We’ll speak to a trainer to find out how you can combine the two to maximize your fitness.

And as a bonus, we’re going to tell you about some free software from Garmin that you can use to make the process amazingly easy.

As you try to achieve your maximum fitness

Tacx Neo 2T - Garmin

Before we get to that little morsel of information, though, let’s catch up with an expert on how to reach fitness levels you’ve never seen before. We spoke to Garmin Ambassador Matt Rowe, a highly knowledgeable cycling coach and brother of current Ineos pro Luke Rowe, to find out how you can maximize your fitness.

Matt has designed a sample training week to get you through the winter months. It is tailor-made for a rider with a good level of fitness who wants to ride sporty for longer in the spring.

The plan is adaptable to time constraints and sessions can be made more difficult as you progress as you get fitter. Each session can also be done indoors on a trainer like the Tacx Neo 2T, or outdoors with a controller like the Garmin Edge 1040 guiding you through the session.

Monday – rest day

If you have any gear to wash or work to do on your bike. Today could be a good day for that.

Tuesday – 20/40

Jamie Tacx Neo 2T

Aim: This is great for getting you used to reacting to speed bumps you would encounter when riding in groups or on hilly roads.

  1. 10 minutes warm up
    Z1 into Z2
  2. 15 repetitions of
    20 seconds above the threshold
    40 seconds Z2
  3. 5 minutes Z2
  4. 15 repetitions of
    20 seconds above the threshold
    40 seconds Z2
  5. 5 minutes Z2 in Z1

Progression: Increase the number of repetitions or omit the 5-minute rest between sets.

Wednesday – Z2

Aim: Cycling is an endurance sport and working in Zone 2 makes sense even if you have limited time. This session is best conducted indoors to maximize session quality. Turn on the TV or some music to entertain yourself, and remember that tomorrow’s session is tough, so keep the intensity low.

  1. 1 hour Z2

Progression: Increase this to 1.5 hours if you have the time.

Thursday – sweet spot

Goal: Sweetspot offers the best training effect for your money with a reduced number of hours. Mix and match interval times, starting with several shorter intervals and increasing intervals as you get fitter. These are great when ridden indoors or outdoors.

  1. 10 minutes warm up
    Z1 into Z2
  2. 10 minutes upper Z3
  3. 5 minutes Z3
  4. 10 minutes upper Z3
  5. 5 minutes Z2
  6. 10 minutes upper Z3
  7. 10 minutes Z2 in Z1

Progression: Throw these intervals into a longer outdoor ride.

Friday – rest day

Nothing on the cards today. Go for a drink after work. It’s off-season after all!

Saturday & Sunday – Free rides

Garmin Edge 1040 Lifestyle

Depending on your goal, you can choose how much you do over the weekend, but you ideally need to plan in the number of hours of your target event. If it’s a sport that lasts around 6 hours, then a total of 6 hours over the weekend is enough.

Saturday could be a 2 hour drive while Sunday could be around 4 hours on the club run.

As you approach your event, it’s a good idea to drive these hours in a row to prepare for the event. So that might just mean a short jaunt on Saturday before a big 6-hour ride on Sunday.

Make it easier for yourself

Garmin Connect on iPhone

Hopefully Matt’s training schedule doesn’t sound too daunting, but now we’re making it even easier with free software from Garmin that you must use.

Garmin Connect is something you may already be using. It’s what you download when you want to connect your phone to your Edge controller. But it’s often underused and offers a brilliant range of free content to help you speed up. It’s like having Matt Rowe’s guide with you every day for free!

Garmin Connect is a hub for all your data, whether you’re riding indoors or outdoors, and even your weight, performance PBs, and sleep. You enter your activities and the Edge 1040 then gives you a daily training suggestion. Here it helps you get fitter than ever. You don’t have to set a goal and you just need to collect about a week’s worth of data for the daily suggested workouts to appear. If you already have activities on Garmin Connect, you can get started right away.

Garmin Edge 1040 3

It works by giving you a stress focus, which is the effect your activity is having on your body. That means the Edge 1040 can tell you what to focus on and what training to do to get there. It even takes into account runs if you like to mix things up, and even your sleep quality if you’re using one of Garmin’s compatible wearables.

This makes it a bit better than TSS alone as the only metric to determine workouts, as you could be utterly wrecked from a horrible night’s sleep. The Edge 1040 sees that and knows not to weigh you down too much that day, leading to a recovery ride or even a full day of rest.

You can choose to do this ride on the road, but if you don’t like the weather you can do the training on the Tacx Neo 2T. It even turns on ERG mode to keep you perfectly in the zone. All you have to do is pedal.

Tacx Neo 2T

Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer

The Neo 2T is a brilliant choice for indoor training. With a power accuracy of +/- 1%, a maximum resistance of 2,200 watts and the ability to replicate a gradient of up to 25%, you can put in some seriously tough sessions with this thing.

One of the downsides of riding indoors can be that you’re sitting stationary, but the Neo 2 can be mounted to these motion plates to enhance and give a true street feel with multidirectional motion.

And the 2T is a super-quiet trainer, too. In fact, it is one of the quietest on the market because Tacx designed it without internal gearing and therefore no fast-moving parts. This is nice because it doesn’t drown out your tunes.

Garmin Edge 1040

Garmin Edge 1040 Solar

Speaking of music, Garmin just introduced a new control screen on the Edge 1040. Just swipe down and you can change the volume, pause and skip tracks. However, Garmin suggests this should only be used when driving indoors.

You can also control a workout from here, which comes in very handy when it comes to breaking a sweat as the Edge 1040 has been designed to work in the sweat zone.

So, maximizing your fitness just got a whole lot easier. With kits like the Tacx Neo 2T and the Garmin Edge 1040 you can train really efficiently whether you are indoors or outdoors.

Then Garmin Connect ties everything together and allows you to follow a training plan in minutes or simply get fitter with daily suggested workouts without having to think about it.

The icing on the cake is that once you have your Edge 1040, the training plans and all that clever stuff is free with no subscription required.

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