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Training Tips

Workout Motivation: Try Movies During Trainer Rides

By: Isaiah Newkirk  March 19, 2020

Getting bored from riding the trainer? Try these tips to stay entertained for those long rides.

The clock ticks. You stare at your power, and it seems like time is standing still. You are 30-minutes into a one-hour trainer ride, and you want nothing more than for it to be over. How do you survive the torture? A simple distraction, like a good action movie to motivate you during your workout could be just the trick to help you push through.

After growing up in the Midwest, where oftentimes there is no reprieve to the cold grey weather, I have pretty much tried everything to keep myself motivated while cranking out a rigorous workout for hours on the trainer. (For the record, my longest indoor session was 5 hours...I'm a different person now a days I promise). Now, as a coach I try to pass this knowledge along to my athletes when sometimes Zwift just doesn’t do enough to distract them.

To best dispense this advice, let’s talk about three things aimed at keeping your mind busy, while still being able to focus on your workout.

Sensory Overload

Your first step to surviving long training sessions is figuring out a way to engage a few key senses - your eyes, your ears, and your sense of touch. For sight: have something to look at. This could be a fun route on Zwift, your Garmin metrics, a stage of the tour, or good workout movies. Above any other movie genre I would recommend action. Choose a movie that you’re familiar with so that you don’t need to hear all of the words clearly. I've also found action movies check this box, even if you haven’t seen the movie before. Action often allows you to be distracted by cool graphics and visuals as well as high energy. (My usuals are The Matrix trilogy, Marvel, and any Kung Fu movies).

Next hearing; if the movies aren’t enough of a distraction to motivate you through your workout, it’s all about the tunes or podcasts. Find something that motivates you and gives you energy. For me, the best workout music genres are rock, heavy metal and techno. My wife loves 60/70’s rock and roll. Everyone is different. Do what calls to you and don’t settle; keep searching until you find the right music, movie or podcast that motivates you to keep working out. For extra credit find something that matches the cadence of your workout.

Now for the final sense, touch. This one is all about being comfortable. The old days of being in a dungeon gym (aka “pain cave”) have passed, so do what you can to make it a place you want to be. Big things are: make sure the temperature is cool enough (I would recommend low 60’sF); set up a fan to keep air flow moving; and have towels to help you mop up all the sweat you’re losing. These might seem small but they go a long way to keep you feeling fresh and motivated.

Get Social

With the senses covered, we move onto social. Just like riding outside, if you are able to make riding inside social it makes it that much more fun. The most common option is Zwift, where thousands of riders gather to ride together all at once. You can find a group ride for any level, join races, or invite your friends for E-meetups. The more old fashioned option is hosting training parties. Yes, that is a thing. Invite a friend over and suffer together to make the time pass faster. This also could be inviting your significant other to give the trainer a try as well (my wife and I do this quite a bit, actually). Another option is spin classes and cycling training studios, if you can find a good one near you.

Add Variety

Finally, have a quality workout that was designed for indoor riding. In my years of managing cycling studios I found that the more engaging a workout is, the happier the athlete gets through it. I started designing workouts that add in extra specific cadence work and minute-by-minute instructions and changes. The key was writing a workout that would keep the athlete hyper-engaged but also not overwhelmed. This took practice and, of course, varies depending on the athlete. For example, in general, if you have a basic set of ten minutes at zone3 power (something sustainable for a decent amount of time) and you are bored, I recommend doing alternating cadences of 70RPM’s for one minute and then 100RPM’s for the next minute. There are all sorts of ways to mix up workouts to make them more appealing to indoor training.

Riding indoors doesn’t need to be a torture that you just “get through”. The above are what I have found work for both my athletes and myself, but feel free to reach out and let me know if you have anything that you have found works for you. If you know anyone that is really struggling with the indoor miles feel free to pass this along as well. Give these tips a try and you might just find yourself enjoying the indoor training time.

About The Contributor

Isaiah Newkirk | Cycling Coach

Isaiah Newkirk currently works as a coach with FasCat Coaching. Isaiah has been coaching for ten plus years and is eager to help any rider achieve their goals and potential. Isaiah has coached athletes to national titles, world titles, and the professional ranks. To get in touch with Isaiah about his coaching please email or find him on instagram @isaiah.newkirk.