by Tim Cusick, PCG master coach

High Rewards from Indoor Training - Peaks Coaching Group

Okay, first of all, I am not a trainer guy! Part of what I love about cycling is getting outside and knocking out actual miles. That being said, for most of us the trainer is a reality in the winter, and this year promises to be no exception. Still, getting on the trainer for me needs to have high reward. Click through for my tips on how to get those rewards…

Trainer Tip 1: Use the trainer to build your functional threshold power (FTP)! Trainers are a great way to induce an even power load and work on that threshold. I cannot tell you the number of times I have talked to people doing 5-6 hours of “base” miles a week on their trainer. This just isn’t going to bring about much improvement. A moderately fit cyclist should be able to complete at least two one-hour threshold-building workouts a week on the trainer. Start in December or January with 2 x 15 minutes at 90% of your threshold (with five minutes of rest between) and build that until you can do 2 x 20 minutes with little to no drop-off in power from interval one to interval two. Once you can do that, move to 3 x 15, then to 3 x 20, or even 2 x 30, all at that at 90% of FTP range.

Trainer Tip 2: Better your spin! Trainers offer such a controlled environment that using them to work on your spin is an excellent use of time. I think a lot of cyclists underestimate the economy of becoming a good spinner. I’m not talking about a fast spinner; I’m talking about an economical spinner. Learning to smooth out your stroke and find a slightly higher natural cadence will pay benefits. On the trainer this can be done in a variety of ways, but here are two that I like: First, one-legged drills are a great way to balance strength between legs while rounding out your pedal stroke. Second, fast pedaling drills; add 2 x 5 sets of 1-minute fast pedal drills in your Level 2 power zone to warm up (or try as a way to warm down), targeting 130 rpm and above, and focusing on being smooth, with no bouncing.

The good news is that spring comes after winter! All your hard work will pay off.


Want to make sure your winter training gets the rewards you need next season? We can help! Contact us to find out how our coaching and training plans can help make your next season the best yet.

Tim Cusick, Peaks Coaching GroupTim Cusick is a USA Cycling Level 3 coach and the president of Peaks Coaching Group. He and the other PCG coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes, and Tim can be contacted directly through or Get more great tips and articles on the Peaks Coaching Group Power Blog.


  1. Leave the guy alone. He’s trying to share helpful tips with us. Personally, I’d love to have him tell me what he keeps in his saddlebag for emergency trainer tools.

  2. Some workouts are better on trainer, depends on your location. It can be hard to do 30min ftp blocks in the city. And the simplifying man up and go outside argument does not apply to serious training lol. Have you realized there is no momentum on a trainer, only constant pedaling and resistance? Dwell on that.

  3. riding the trainer instead of outdoors on rain days also keeps your bike clean and allows your components to stay in good shape. I always say the cleaner the bike the happier the bike, and that’s not just wiping the frame down, the longer your stuff last, and you’ll be happy cause your bike is running and your not bleeding your pockets. oh wait that’s provided all of your bikes are well and properly maintained.

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