Idiot's guide to turbo and HRM training please

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  • Idiot's guide to turbo and HRM training please
  • the teaboy

    I’m currently rebuilding my scaphoid after a nasty ice-related crash so all my riding is on a turbo with tri-bars (thanks daver27) at the moment.

    I was reasonably fit before the crash and am happy doing intervals etc but I feel that I might not be making best use of my time on the turbo.

    I have: bike, a basic mag turbo with resistance remote, towel, legs, clock, dvd player, iPhone.
    I don’t have: SRM, HRM, ANT+, PC/ laptop, other acronyms, cadence.

    My current strategy is: get on bike, warm up, either do 5*3min, 4*4min, 3*5min intervals or watch a Bond film and do fartleks whenever Bond girl/ villain is on screen, warm down. I’m planning to do 2*20s but haven’t had the balls yet!

    Do I “need” a HRM to control exertion beyond ‘perceived effort’? If so, what’s the best bang for buck for (significantly) less than £100?

    Do I “need” sufferfest and how can I watch it without a laptop?

    Training for general fitness, running and some big rides in July.

    oh, and wtf is ANT+?

    Premier Icon composite

    ANT+ is basically a wireless communication standard, to allow devices to talk to each other, often devices from different manufacturers. So you might have for example a Garmin Edge 800 that is connected to and records data from a heart rate monitor, a power meter and your body composition scales.

    Premier Icon mrblobby

    ANT+ is a Gramin protocol that things like power meters, cadence sensors etc. use to talk to a display/head unit. It’s an open protocol that lots of other manufacturers use in their devices.

    Would recommend having a look at TrainerRoad. If your turbo is a model it knows about then you can do power based workouts. All you need is a speed/cadence sensor and an little garmin USB stick (all much cheaper than getting a power meter.) It’ll also interface with a garmin HRM. You could probably get all that for under a 100 quid. There’s even a good set of training plans to follow on TrainerRoad.

    Power based intervals are where it’s at as they are much more precise than HR based intervals (which can lag some way behind effort.) Though all depends on how serious you are really.

    Sufferfest, can be fun, depends what you want to do. If you just want to smash it for an hour then they are good… but probably not something you’d want to be doing every day. You can play them with most video file players, I think they are supplied as MPEG movies. You can also load them into TrainerRoad which then gives target power readings based on your own FTP throughout the workout as the intensity changes. Works very well.

    Ah just seen the “don’t have” for PC/laptop. TrainerRoad does need that. Is well worth getting one sorted if you can.

    Also get yourself a big powerful fan!

    Edit: I’m liking the bond film idea 🙂

    Double Edit: For sufferfest you’d need to burn it onto a DVD in a format that your player can play. There are loads of apps out there for that. You could also play it on the iphone but that would be a bit rubbish probably.

    the teaboy

    Thanks for these. Didn’t realise that I could burn sufferfest onto dvds.

    I might try dvd burning with the Tour of Flanders/ Paris Roubaix too (thank god for Eurosport).

    Otherwise, I may be too technologically retarded/ skinflinty to participate!

    Edit: Also, power intervals do seem to be a bit of a holy grail – especially as I seem to have developed a bit of a muscular imbalance as a result of a previous crash.


    Start with the Bond films, but you should be aiming to work up to one interval for every drink in ‘Withnail and I’

    Premier Icon Pawsy_Bear

    I use my polar HRM and a rear wheel cat eye computer give cadence and distance.

    Zone based training
    Long slow Z2 for endurance
    Recover spin Z1-2 – high cadenace low power


    I’ve stuck my Sufferfest videos on my phone, useful for when I’m in the gym at lunchtime. Works well enough, although you’ve got to be careful about dripping sweat on your phone.

    If I were at home I’d be looking to something with a bigger screen + loudspeakers, laptop or burning to DVD for example.

    HRM is a cheap and effective alternative to a power meter, handy to make sure you’re actually going hard enough in the intervals, and have recovered properly. If it’s for home use a cheap unit will be fine, if you plan to take it to a gym in the future get one with a coded transmission (otherwise you end up with interference from the guy/girl on the machine next to you…). All HRMs show current heart rate, which is pretty much all you need on a static setup.


    Get a speedo for your bike which measures the rear wheel speed. You can then judge the effort required for each interval (i.e. power since the resistance is constant(ish) on a turbo).

    If you make sure it’s calibrated each time you get on the turbo, then you can test yourself and the various interval times you’re looking at.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore

    For a cheap easy session with equipment listed, why not try simple riding at set cadences or intervals using the cadence revolution free downloads?

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