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How to choose your Home Trainer

When winter is here, when the night falls early and it gets colder and wetter, or when you simply don't have time to go outside to ride... Fortunately, the home trainer has been designed to allow you to train at home and to meet the needs of any cyclist who cannot ride outside.

Initially used by professionals in winter or before a race, the home trainer was quickly adopted by amateur cyclists. The arrival of platforms such as Zwift and the pandemic have also helped this process. Easy to use, the home trainer allows you to ride indoors on your own bike by fixing the rear wheel. It takes up relatively little space and is easy to store and transport.

The different types of home trainer

In the home trainer section, we can find different types of trainers and different models. To help you in your choice, we offer you a market overview to know everything about this essential accessory!

Resistance home trainer

They allow the bike to be fixed directly to the machine via the rear wheel. Depending on the needs of the training, the wheel can offer more or less resistance via a hydraulic, magnetic or air brake. This resistance exerted on the rear wheel therefore makes it possible to vary the intensities.

An entry-level resistance home trainer will allow you to simulate a flat course and offer 5 to 10 braking positions. It will be noisy and your rear tire will tend to wear out quickly due to friction on the plastic roller. A mid to high-end home trainer will simulate hills and be quite quiet, especially if the drive roller is made of gel.

Home trainers with direct transmission

Direct transmission home trainers are different from the resistance ones. For these, the rear wheel is removed from the bike so that it can be placed on the home trainer, which is a stand equipped with a cassette. The installation process is the same as if you were to put a wheel on the bike, but instead of putting a wheel on, you put the bike on the home trainer and fix it.
Compared to resistance home trainers, the fact that you don't put the wheel on a roller means that you don't wear out your tyre. It is important to note that these products are often more expensive because they are of higher quality. They are more comfortable to use, they are closer to reality by simulating the slope better. They also allow you to simulate more elevation changes than resistance home trainers. These products tend to be quite voluminous, but as time goes by, the brands are making compact and easy to store models. The most popular products are the home trainers from Tacx and Elite.

Roller Home Trainer

Rollers are home trainers consisting of 3 rollers connected to each other and placed on the floor, on which you can ride. They allow you to work on balance, pedaling technique and velocity. On a roller, the bike is not fixed. It therefore does not allow to simulate slopes or to work on strength and power. The rollers are also more cumbersome than a conventional home trainer. The rollers are often used and very practical for a warm-up before a competition (track, cyclo-cross etc.)

Connected Homes Trainer

Home trainers have long put off many cyclists because of the monotony of the exercise. You stand up, choose a resistance and pedal in front of your wall, which can be very boring.
However, today brands have developed products that have put an end to the boredom of indoor training: connected home trainers, wired or wireless. Thanks to a Bluetooth connection, we can now connect our trainer to a phone, tablet or in the best case a computer or TV screen. This gives you access to the training apps that brands provide with their home trainers, the most popular being Zwift. Using the app allows you to to access or create training programs and virtual rides. This new technology was a breaktrough in the usage of home trainers as it is way more fun to train this way and allows you to be more specific in your training.
To go even further, some platforms like Zwift have arrived in recent years. This has completely changed the world of indoor cycling. Zwift is a game where you join thousands of virtual cyclists in virtual worlds, for racing, group rides or training sessions. Thanks to these developments, home trainers are no longer an ordeal for cyclists but a real pleasure to complete outdoor rides.

The rules to follow for effective training :

Once the home trainer has been chosen, it is now a question of training on a regular basis. For this training to remain a pleasure and to be effective, it is necessary to respect certain simple rules :

  • Do not ride more than 2 hours on home trainer.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and don't hesitate to consume specific sports nutrition. Indoor training forces you to make a big effort without being ventilated because you are in an environment that is often hotter than outside and you are not moving.
  • Protect the soil and the bicycle from perspiration.
  • Bring a towel to wipe your face so that perspiration does not sting your eyes.
  • When you practice on a home trainer, you tend to produce an effort quickly, so it is very important to warm up well to start your session. Plan a warm-up of 10 to 15 minutes and finish with 5 to 10 minutes of active recovery (60% FC Max).
  • If you use a resistance home trainer, it is important to use a home trainer tyre that will damage much less quickly than a conventional tyre and that will also be less noisy.

The different types of training :

As we have seen, the use of a home trainer is a very good complement to outdoor activities and allows you to train all year round. We will look at the different types of exercise that can be done with this tool. Take into consideration that on a home trainer, you pedal continuously unlike when you are outside, which means that for 30 minutes on a trainer, you have the equivalent of an hour's effort during an outside ride.

  • Velocity work : the goal is to turn the legs quickly (high cadence). The higher the cadence, the more coordinated your movements will be and the more efficient your pedalling will be. This exercise also allows you to work on one or both legs at a time. For this exercise, it will be necessary to grind, work between 60 and 70% of your mac heart rate (FC Max) and turn your legs between 90 and 120 rotations per minute (rpm). Depending on the form, vary the sequences, the duration of each sequence and the number of repetitions.
  • Force work : the objective is to drive with a large gearbox and high resistance on the home trainer. The pedalling rhythm should not exceed 50 to 60 rpm and the Fc Max should be around 80%. For this exercise, it will be necessary to opt for fractioned. Warm-up, 3 to 5 minutes of strength (50 rpm), 2 minutes of recovery. Repeat the cycle several times and then end with 10 minutes of active recovery.
  • Explosivity work : here, the goal is to do short, violent exercises to get your body used to violent climbs or sprints. In this exercise, it will also be necessary to work in a fraction. 10 minutes of warm-up (60-65% fc mac) then repeat several sprints from 10 to 20 seconds at 95-100% fc max with a rest time of 45 seconds between each interval. End with 10 minutes of calm and active recovery.

To summarise, how to choose your home trainer :

If you wish to invest in a home trainer or change it, make sure that it is compatible with your bike (wheel size, axle, cassette). Then determine your needs. If you want to pedal quietly in front of the TV, you can use a classic home trainer. To do specific work, it is better to invest in a medium or high-end home trainer that offers different levels of resistance and different levels of slope.

Finally, if you are a connected person who wants to break with the monotony of a classic home trainer and go further in your workouts. Go for a connected product that will simulate races or allow you to ride on a ton of different exercises thanks to apps like Zwift.

If you live in an apartment, be sure to choose a compact model that is easy to store and does not make too much noise . In any case, make sure you drink and eat during exercise, protect the ground and your bike, and equip yourself with other accessories if you want to optimise your work and have more data.



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