4 Ways to Make Your Indoor Training Better With Your Smartphone
November 22, 2013 29 Comments
A few weeks ago we wrote about our strategies for indoor training, including ways to cope with the fact that you’re riding your bike indoors. But if you really want to get the most out of your indoor training (and spice up your solo sufferfests), check out some of the new technology available to track, plan and interact with your trainer rides, all from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet.
First up is the Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer, recognizable for its use of a “wheel-off” design (since you remove your rear wheel and mount your bike directly on a trainer-mounted cassette). Its super flywheel design with electronic resistance is engineered to replicate the inertia of an actual rider on the road, give the smoothest indoor riding on the market, and run extremely quiet. But we’re here to talk tech, and the KICKR Power Trainer has that in spades. Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technologies wirelessly connect to your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Garmin Edge and let you control resistance levels, structure interval workouts, and simulate real-world courses using your favorite App (including the free Wahoo Fitness App and many other popular cycling Apps and 3rd party software). You even get truly accurate power measurement, since the wheel-off design allows for direct, lab accurate power measurement at the hub which is consistent and calibrated throughout every grueling mile.
But that’s not all for the KICKR Power Trainer, as their newest trick is Strava app integration through the new Wahoo Segments app. The Segments app lets you ride any Strava segment indoors – you can compete in head-to-head matchups against any rider, on any Strava segment, anywhere in the world! The Segments app controls resistance to match the elevation profile of each course, meaning the KICKR Power Trainer realistically simulates the grade of each Strava segment’s climb in real-time. Resistance adjustments are instant, making it easy to replicate everything from a flat or rolling hill course, to the coast down a hill after a hard climb. When you’re finished you can then upload your workout to your Strava profile as an indoor workout.
The folks at Elite trainers have taken a different approach with their e-training technology, but the good news is that all you need to get going is your Elite trainer, the My E-Training App (there is a small annual fee for this service), an ANT+ Wahoo Dongle (for your iPhone), any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor, and any ANT+ heart rate strap (if you want to track heart rate data). Since many of you already have some, if not all, of these pieces, you can be up and running with Elite’s sophisticated e-training tech in short order.
It’s like having a virtual coach that travels with you whatever your destination – you’ll be able to track power, pedal cadence, heart rate, speed, time and distance directly from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with the My E-Training App. You can establish your anaerobic threshold, create personalized monthly indoor training programs, or even create races from all over the world with Google Maps. And of course all of your training data can be saved, shared and exported to chart the course of your training and improvement.
If you are interested in the benefits of a wattage-based training program and you’ve got a Kinetic fluid trainer, then the new Kinetic inRide Watt Meter is a perfect add-on to your training. This watt meter pairs a heart rate monitor and power sensor pod (included in the kit) with the new Kinetic inRide iPhone App to measure wattage with any Kinetic fluid trainer using the Bluetooth Smart communication protocol from your iPhone or iPad.
A highly accurate power curve allows precise wattage readings at exact speeds – firmware in the inRide Sensor Pod measures speed and cadence at the tire, translating it to wattage, and finally, that data and the heart rate data are collected and displayed on your paired iPhone or iPad. When you’re done, you can upload your postworkout file to a favorite website or email files to a remote coach – the Kinetic inRide Watt Meter is a great tool for the aspiring cyclist in training.
The folks over at CycleOps have come up their own VirtualTraining App, for desktop or tablet, that lets you control your training on CycleOps trainers, Wahoo trainers, power meters or with any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor (for a monthly subscription fee). If you’re connected to a trainer that lets you control the resistance (like the Wahoo KICKR Power Trainer), you can manage the resistance level to match a virtual route or pre-set training ride. The Virtual training software even integrates GPS and Google Earth technology to synchronize route mapping and videos with actual outdoor terrain, while adjusting the load generation of the resistance unit to reflect actual changes in terrain along the route. It even supports consumer-generated real life video content, so you’ll be able to share courses with other cyclists from around the world!
If you have a trainer where you can’t adjust the resistance level remotely, like the CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer, you can still use the VirtualTraining App (in conjunction with an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor and ANT+ heart rate strap) to record all of your training data from connected ANT+ or BlueTooth Smart sensors and then upload to the VirtualTraining portal for detail analysis.