Build A Home Gym On A Budget

Here’s a fun fact: you can build a pretty comprehensive home gym for under $250. As the days get shorter, darker, and colder a lot of workouts that used to be done outside have to get moved inside. We’re pretty hardy winter warriors, but there’s weather even we won’t go out into.

So when one of those famous Carolina ice storms descends upon Chapel Hill, we break out the following equipment to get in a full, comprehensive workout to stay in shape, stay limber, and cross train through the winter months.

 

CARDIO

Indoor Cycling Trainer (~$149.99-$1,899)

The indoor trainer is an amazing piece of equipment. Even a budget-priced model can deliver a hard, lung busting workout. Simply clamp your road or mountain bike into it, get on, and start pedaling. Sure, it can be fairly monotonous, but a quick Youtube search for ‘cycling trainer workout’  can yield plenty of tough, structured workouts to help you get the most out of your time.

Check out our guide to cycling trainers here.

 

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

STRENGTH/FLEXIBILITY

Trainer Mat ($49.99)

This is one of the most versatile fitness items we’ve ever owned. It’s designed to go under your bike while in the trainer to help dampen noise and catch dripping sweat. But we also use it for yoga, core workouts, pushups/sit ups, and more.

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

 Resistance Bands, Kettle Bells, or Fit Balls (~$29.99-$79.99 for a set)

We used to have a pretty comprehensive set of free weights (in fact, they might still be in the basement somewhere), but these days we mostly just use a resistance bands and kettle bells for our workouts. Resistance bands can be used to build strength, enhance flexibility, and improve your overall fitness, while kettle bells are excellent for strengthening muscles we don’t use much during cycling.

*We recommend speaking with a personal trainer or coach before beginning any weight or resistance training to ensure proper exercise form and avoid injury

 

RECOVERY

Foam Roller ($17.99-$39.99)

The foam roller has become an essential tool for us. Using the foam roller can help loosen up tight muscles and adhesions, keeping you loose and flexible which makes you more resistant to injury.

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

 

TOTAL FOR A WHOLE GYM: $249.96

So lets hear it, did we miss anything? What’s your favorite piece of home workout equipment? Tell us in the comments section.

4 Ways to Make Your Indoor Training Better With Your Smartphone

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.

1. Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer

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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer

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.

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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer in use

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.

2. Elite My E-Training App

Elite Qubo
Elite Qubo Fluid + Trainer integrates with the My E-Training App

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.

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My E-Training App from Elite

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.

3. Kinetic inRide Watt Meter

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Kinetic inRide Watt Meter pod attached to a Kinetic fluid trainer

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.

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Heart rate monitor & power sensor pod pair with the Kinetic inRide iPhone App

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.

Kinetic inRide Watt Meter
Ride data is displayed on your paired iPhone or iPad (mount not included)

4. CycleOps VirtualTraining App

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CycleOps VirtualTraining App

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!

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CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer

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.

Real Advice: Training Indoors


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Winter is coming. And this year, just like every year, we’re all going to swear up and down that no matter how bad the weather gets, we’re going to ride outside. And this year, just like every year, that resolution will last just about through mid-December, at which point we will all switch to full-on holiday bacchanalia mode and just kind of stop riding, reasoning that spring isn’t that far away.

For most of my cycling career, this was exactly the pattern I fell into year after year. I would ride my way into excellent form going into the fall, only to feel like I was starting again from scratch every spring. Finally, one year, I decided to buy a trainer. I didn’t work for Performance at the time, but I visited my local store, and the associate helped me pick out a trainer that was right for my needs. I ended up going home with an Elite progressive resistance trainer, and a special tire designed to be used with stationary trainers (more on that in a bit). The results were incredible. While I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t exactly love riding the trainer, I was able to keep relatively in shape through the winter, and entered into the spring in much better shape than previous years.

When it comes to trainers and rollers, there are a lot of options to choose from. Trainers can vary a lot in price and features, so it’s important to consider what your training goals are before buying.

Here are some tricks and tips to get the most out of your winter training:

1. Know Your Trainers: The primary purpose of trainers is to help you build strength and endurance. Basically, a trainer is a treadmill for your rear wheel—you just clamp your rear wheel in and start spinning.  How much resistance your trainer delivers will depend on what type it is. Our Learning Center has an article that dives more in-depth into the different types of trainers, but here’s a quick summary:

Wind Trainers: Use a fan to generate resistance.

Advantages

  • Fewer moving parts
  • Produce progressive resistance, which increases as wheel speed increases
  • Smooth resistance with minimal vibration

Disadvantages

  • Noisy
  • Fan susceptible to damage
  • Increasing wheel speed only way to increase resistance

Magnetic Trainers: Use combination of magnets and metal plates to generate resistance.

Advantages

  • Offer multiple levels of resistance
  • Quieter than wind trainers
  • Produce linear resistance, which stays the same regardless of wheel speed
  • Typically less expensive than other options

Disadvantages

  • Changing resistance level requires dismounting bike unless trainer is equipped with handlebar-mounted remote shift lever

Fluid Trainers: Uses a hydraulic fluid and an impeller to create resistance.

Advantages

  • Produce progressive resistance, which increases as wheel speed increases
  • Very quiet
  • Most moving parts protected by enclosed resistance unit
  • Available in adjustable resistance models

Disadvantages

  • More Expensive

A quick word on tires: trainers tend to be tough on your tires. As mentioned above, some companies like Vittoria now make specially designed tires that are made to withstand the rigors that the trainer will put them through.

The Elite Qubo Fluid+ resistance trainer is a great way to gain strength and work on endurance through the winter

2. Rollers: are different from trainers in that the focus is on developing form instead of strength. While riding the rollers can deliver a hard, pulse-pounding workout, rollers are better used to work on cadence, pedaling efficiency and concentration. Unlike trainers, rollers are a free-form exercise where the bike is not locked down, so they require a smooth pedaling motion, steady cadence and concentration to use. They take some practice to get the hang of, but the rewards are significant. The first few times you use rollers, we highly recommend wearing a helmet, setting them up next to a wall (to make it easier to get on and off), and putting some couch cushions around you on the floor. It’s also recommended that you have someone video your first attempt at using the rollers, since hilarity is almost certainly sure to ensue (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).

Rollers are an excellent way to work on form and cadence through the long winter months

3. Boredom: I’m going to be really honest here: there are few things more boring than riding a trainer/rollers. When you’re sitting on a bike that’s going nowhere, it’s really hard to stay motivated and push yourself. A good way to overcome this is with videos or music. Many companies offer workout DVD’s for use with the trainer that can help you target specific areas you’d like to work on (strength training, endurance, climbing, etc…). Something important to remember, though, is that your time on the trainer is an hour you have to yourself to do whatever you want. With that in mind, here are some other ideas I use to stay focused:

-Catch up on the DVR queue

-Watch cycling movies like Breaking Away, American Flyers, and The Flying Scotsman

-Scour Netflix for movies that your better half doesn’t want to watch (I’ve probably seen Commando on the trainer at least 7 times)

-When I have to use the trainer at work or before a race, I have a special playlist on my phone of songs that help get me motivated

Catching up on TV you may have missed is a great way to keep the trainer from getting stale

4. Ride With A Buddy: Everything is more fun if you have a friend, and riding with someone else helps you stay more accountable. If you have some buddies who are into cycling try setting up some indoor training sessions. If you have a video game system, then you have a recipe for success since you can host “trainer tournaments”. Last year at the office we had some fairly epic Halo multiplayer battles while riding the trainers (one guy even added aerobar extensions to his bike since he could ride hard while still using the controller).

You'd be amazed how much faster the time goes when you can crush your friends in Halo or Madden

You’d be amazed how much faster the time goes when you can crush your friends in Halo or Madden

5. Sweat It Out: When you’re on the trainer, it’s going to get sweaty. You’re not moving, so there’s no air to cool you down. Here are some tips to keep cool and clean:

-Put down a trainer mat under the bike

-Use a sweat net to protect your frame (many trainers come with one of these)

-Use a small fan to keep cool

-Always have a bottle with ice water in it

-Wear a cycling cap to keep sweat out of your eyes

A sweat net will help protect your frame and components from the corrosive effects of sweat

6. Have A Plan: Riding the trainer is an activity that rewards having a focused approach. Making vague promises to ride the trainer every day for an hour may be hard to follow through on as the winter grinds on. Create a training realistic training plan that you can adhere to, and that drives toward very specific goals. This is where using a training DVD can be very helpful.

Using a training DVD can help you create a plan and work toward specific goals during the off-season

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