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Real road vs Turbo trainer?

henrikcomnhenrikcomn Posts: 4
edited August 2017 in Training, fitness and health
Will training on a turbo trainer be as good as riding on the road?

Im not talking about technique and stuff like that, but if you only look at building form and getting miles in the legs.

Posts

  • riekorieko Posts: 121
    I don't think anything can replace actually getting out on the road. However using a Turbo Trainer when you simply can't get out due to time or weather is definitely the next best thing.

    If you go for a smart turbo and link it into a platform like Zwift, TrainerRoad or Sufferfest then even better. It helps keep it interesting as well as being able to tap into workouts and training plans too.

    I actually got properly bike fit last winter exclusively using Zwift, other than probably two short rides out in the cold. By the time the nice weather came back I was fitter and faster than I've ever been.

    Still, theres no substitute for experiencing the open road on your bike!
    Giant TCR
    Giant TCX
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Turbo is great for short intensive sessions. It won't teach you bike handling or give you the adventure and sights from the outside world.

    If you're Just riding on a turbo you're missing the point of cycling.

    It's also easy to burn yourself out on a turbo. You have to have a proper plan. Going hard all the time will destroy your fitness
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    3 months of Zwift with a structured training plan this winter got me faster and fitter than I ever have been before.

    Ironically, since the Sun's come out from March onwards (ish), I've pretty much just been riding outside and enjoying it and have subsequently lost all of my top end speed and power and my ftp has dropped from 320 to 301, despite having the same ctl of around 95.
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    edited July 2017
    turbo training increases your fitness .. no doubts about that.

    It does d1ck all to improve your cycling though ... the road is completely different, there is wind, surface variances, stopping, traffic, weather, wet, dry, sun, noise

    The turbo gets me fitter, but riding on the road has made me faster


    edit: this is from a road newbie though ... my bike handling is at a point where it can increase at the same rate as my fitness.

    Examples of which, on my favourite descents every time I go out I get a PR on this 1 descent ... my last go, my top speed was 8mph slower than normal, yet I was 3 seconds quicker overall

    The turbo might make you be able to pedal harder ...... but real cycling teaches you how not to slow down and how to keep that speed
  • pirniepirnie Posts: 242
    The big advantage of the turbo is the consistency it provides. I don't know about you but I don't know of any road where you can pedal constantly for an hour, just focussing on the work you're doing without worrying about descents, cars, traffic lights, junctions etc.

    In terms of the work you can do in a given time it beats the road hands down. 60 minutes on the turbo can equate to about a 90 minute outdoor ride, plus you don't have to worry about routes and kit as much too.

    Of course there are huge advantages to riding outside too, as everyone else has said.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Hayman and Cummings would both argue that turbo training makes you both fitter and faster after training for Paris Roubaix and the British nationals respectively on turbo trainers due to injuries.

    I always find my forms drops significantly as the weather picks up and it gets too hot to turbo, despite trying to replicate similar sessions outside and often doing more hours. Quality trumps quantity for most and the turbo is nothing but 100% quality training.
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    joey54321 wrote:
    Hayman and Cummings would both argue that turbo training makes you both fitter and faster .


    they are both Pros though that have spend days upon days in the saddle for the last god knows how many years, on the road for hours on end

    they are not going benefit from the basics in the same way that your average Joe is
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Don't forget that Steve has been doing 1000s of miles a year since he was a schoolboy. Get the miles in the legs for a base and then you can do the quality stuff.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    fat daddy wrote:
    joey54321 wrote:
    Hayman and Cummings would both argue that turbo training makes you both fitter and faster .


    they are both Pros though that have spend days upon days in the saddle for the last god knows how many years, on the road for hours on end

    they are not going benefit from the basics in the same way that your average Joe is

    Yes, I know a lot of what the pros do isn't directly relatable, it was also slightly tongue-in-cheek, however there is an element of applicable truth to it. Particularly in Hayman's case, he did a brilliant race but has hardly been a contender before, mostly working as a domestic for others. A few months on a turbo trainer and he wins one of the biggest races of the year?

    Are these are guys that are also going to be aiming for quality out on the road too, not trying to fit intervals around a daily commute or anything like that. I personally know cyclists of all levels that, if they can mentally put up with sitting on a turbo trainer regularly, they go better. And it seems there is an element of that with Hayman and Cummings too, coming back from injury to win big races so quickly is very impressive.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    joey54321 wrote:
    fat daddy wrote:
    joey54321 wrote:
    Hayman and Cummings would both argue that turbo training makes you both fitter and faster .


    they are both Pros though that have spend days upon days in the saddle for the last god knows how many years, on the road for hours on end

    they are not going benefit from the basics in the same way that your average Joe is

    Yes, I know a lot of what the pros do isn't directly relatable, it was also slightly tongue-in-cheek, however there is an element of applicable truth to it. Particularly in Hayman's case, he did a brilliant race but has hardly been a contender before, mostly working as a domestic for others. A few months on a turbo trainer and he wins one of the biggest races of the year?

    Are these are guys that are also going to be aiming for quality out on the road too, not trying to fit intervals around a daily commute or anything like that. I personally know cyclists of all levels that, if they can mentally put up with sitting on a turbo trainer regularly, they go better. And it seems there is an element of that with Hayman and Cummings too, coming back from injury to win big races so quickly is very impressive.

    do read a fair bit now about base being essentially pointless. pros have time to do it, but you can be competitive with a lot less, but higher quality riding.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Pros will already have had years of miles in the legs though. Which is a bit different from someone just taking up the sport.

    Also I think the OP is doing the Marmotte next year - so no amount of Turbos will help him get used to 50 mph descents with 1000s of other cyclists around. You need to be able to handle a bike.
  • pirniepirnie Posts: 242
    fenix wrote:
    Also I think the OP is doing the Marmotte next year - so no amount of Turbos will help him get used to 50 mph descents with 1000s of other cyclists around. You need to be able to handle a bike.

    But equally you can't replicate alpine climbs in the UK, unless you're on the turbo. Optimal training is a mix of both IMO. Turbo for hard work, fitness/power and structure, outdoors for bike handling, sanity and fun
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Definitely both for me too - there's really intense sessions you'd not be safe to do on the road.
    But if it was one or the other - then the road would be the better option for the OP.
  • pirniepirnie Posts: 242
    fenix wrote:
    Definitely both for me too - there's really intense sessions you'd not be safe to do on the road.
    But if it was one or the other - then the road would be the better option for the OP.

    Agreed. If it's one or the other and you just do turbo you'd hate it so much you'd give up cycling!
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    fenix wrote:
    Pros will already have had years of miles in the legs though. Which is a bit different from someone just taking up the sport.

    Also I think the OP is doing the Marmotte next year - so no amount of Turbos will help him get used to 50 mph descents with 1000s of other cyclists around. You need to be able to handle a bike.

    Obviously, pros have done lots of cycling, I am not suggesting that a few hours of turbo training will turn the OP in to a pro. He/She asked which is better for building form and specifically said he was not talking about technique which presumably covers descending, bike handling, group riding etc... which are all very important skills, but given his/her comment I assume those skills are good enough or there is a plan for improving those too. For building form, I think turbo training is better than being on the road (if you can mentally do it regularly, which some people can, some people can't. I personally prefer doing intervals on the turbo as there is no distraction).
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    pirnie wrote:
    fenix wrote:
    Definitely both for me too - there's really intense sessions you'd not be safe to do on the road.
    But if it was one or the other - then the road would be the better option for the OP.

    Agreed. If it's one or the other and you just do turbo you'd hate it so much you'd give up cycling!

    To be fair, Zwift is bloody brilliant. Totally transformed turbo for me, actually quite looking forward to getting stuck into it again in the depths of winter.
  • bvduckbvduck Posts: 44
    rieko wrote:

    If you go for a smart turbo and link it into a platform like Zwift, TrainerRoad or Sufferfest then even better. It helps keep it interesting as well as being able to tap into workouts and training plans too.Still, theres no substitute for experiencing the open road on your bike!

    Thanks for the shout out, Rieko! David McQuillen, Chief Suffering Officer at The Sufferfest, here. One really important thing to consider when comparing outdoor vs. indoor is that indoor is far more efficient. A 45 minute indoor ride is = to an hour outside. For most of us, that's really important time...especially since it's also generally easier to get kitted up and riding indoors than it is for an outside one. Here's a few other bits we wrote about training indoors, including a few qutoes from World Champ Colin Sturgess: https://thesufferfest.com/blogs/the-suf ... suffer-365

    - David McQuillen, The Sufferfest http://www.thesufferfest.com
    David McQuillen, Chief Suffering Officer
    http://www.thesufferfest.com
    @thesufferfest
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,849
    joey54321 wrote:
    fenix wrote:
    Pros will already have had years of miles in the legs though. Which is a bit different from someone just taking up the sport.

    Also I think the OP is doing the Marmotte next year - so no amount of Turbos will help him get used to 50 mph descents with 1000s of other cyclists around. You need to be able to handle a bike.

    Obviously, pros have done lots of cycling, I am not suggesting that a few hours of turbo training will turn the OP in to a pro. He/She asked which is better for building form and specifically said he was not talking about technique which presumably covers descending, bike handling, group riding etc... which are all very important skills, but given his/her comment I assume those skills are good enough or there is a plan for improving those too. For building form, I think turbo training is better than being on the road (if you can mentally do it regularly, which some people can, some people can't. I personally prefer doing intervals on the turbo as there is no distraction).

    Joey has it. OP clearly stated they weren't asking about technique.

    Turbo training with a proper plan is much more efficient than training on the road in most cases (I suppose if you lived at the bottom of a 10 minute climb or whatever repping that a lot would be pretty good). There's no traffic, no lights, and if you're following a proper workout there's no wasted time coasting or soft pedalling (you're either doing an effort or recovering).

    And if doing the Marmotte it's probably the best way to properly practice doing similar intervals in the UK.

    Obviously all the other skills are important especially descending on the Marmotte but that's not what the OP was asking.
  • dannbodgedannbodge Posts: 927
    Turbo trainer is no replacement for riding on the roads, however it's very difficult to do specific training sessions on the road, which is where a turbo comes in very handy.

    Also Zwift is awesome.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,643
    I am a big time Turbo convert, it's revolutionised my training, power, and consequently enjoyment when I do get out on the road.

    I think for those with limited time (I work full time and have a young family) they are almost essential.
    My gf is out in the evenings twice a week, so with a baby monitor in the garage I can knock out two 90 minute workouts then. Additionally I work from home 2 days a week, and can flex my time, so can get another 2 or 3 hours of sessions in. Yes I could ride outside, and occasionally do, but the risk of a mechanical would meanI might be delayed at getting back to work.

    I use trainerroad, and love the challenge of completing the tough workouts, and then seeing what the resulting ftp tests show my progress to be.

    So for me, it's not a versus thing, I need both, and I now massively more enjoy the outdoor rides than I used to, due to the time spent on the turbo.

    For the first 6 months of the year, I have been on the turbo for 7 hours a week, every week.
    I don't just stare at stats though, I have a Eurosport player subscription, so watch a load od cycle races whilst on the bike, and if there are no sporting events I want to watch, I either go for a classic race from the past, or watch a drama or what have you off of iplayer etc.

    I reaped the rewards on a few loops I do, faster overall around them, and can see my progress on Strava etc, this then motivates me more to train harder, and hopefully see improved results.

    We are all different of course, but this definitely works for me, just wish I had had access to it 25 years ago!
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
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