Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners
a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
by Rebecca Ramsay
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners is written in no-nonsense, ‘does what it says on the tin,’ prose and offers the novice indoor cyclist – of whom there has been an exponential population explosion this delightful winter – plenty of valuable and pragmatic advice on how to, as the Amazon Kindle page Amazon Kindle page
“get you up and running quickly and efficiently with turbo training so you can maximise your fitness when you can’t get outdoors for cycling training.”
The guide begins with a useful introduction by Rebecca and succinctly contains her raison d’être; the essence of which is to help those cyclists who feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect of indoor cycling, offer a purpose to their turbo training and, not least, to inspire them to give the turbo a prolonged go (not just a session or two!)
The book begins by addressing the obvious in Section 1: what equipment do I need for Turbo Training? It covers pretty much everything from the Trainer + your bike (and tyre) through cadence, heart rate and power and onwards to hydration and the use of towels. If you can think it then be reassured, Rebecca has probably covered it. I’ve been using a Turbo for a year or two and still picked up many instantly useful tips.
Section 2 asks the question: What is Turbo Training and why bother? A short section that dispels a few myths and sets the agenda for what follows which is Section 3: Where is best to Turbo Train? Section 4: How do I go about an effective Turbo workout? Is where Rebecca’s experience as a professional cyclist really comes into play. She covers, with justifications, the warm up, the work out, including intervals training, and the cool down. If you think the latter unimportant then look at how many teams are now mimicking Team Sky’s approach (which they themselves introduced from the world of swimming.)
Section 5 hopes to help you overcome the perennial gripe about Turbo Training: 10 Ways to overcome Turbo Training boredom. It is condensed and thus easy to access and contains much that may help all cyclists, irrespective of experience. As does the oft neglected section 7: recovery from Turbo workouts!
So, now you’re familiar with the fundamentals it’s time to choose your Turbo Trainer and section 7: Which Turbo is right for me? Will help you make a reasoned choice, without any insidious marketing hype. Rebecca has ridden many trainers and reviews them without obvious bias, although she does have her favourite(s). What about rollers, I hear you ask? Well, section 8: Rollers versus Turbo Training – which is best? Sheds some light onto the debate and clearly explains the pros and cons of each system.
Ok, you’ve made your purchase and are now rearing to ride. Section 9: understanding pedalling technique and cadence, presents a vital, and sometimes omitted aspect of the sport. It is here you get a taste of Rebecca’s depth of experience and her workout paradigm, that of the structured interval, through a suggested cadence workout. It’s very good, I’ve tried it.
The book closes with a sack full of really well planned and explained Turbo sessions: Section 10: 20 Turbo charged workouts to explode your fitness! It starts with beginners intervals and progresses steadily through various structured-interval programmes: pyramids, negative splits, isolation, crossovers, threshold, power, etc. There is a definite progression here so the novice would be well advised to start with in the lower digits of the workout chronology – many are tough! Simply reading it gives you an insight into how to correctly and usefully structure your training. Riding them will only help you to become a better rider on the road.
An Aside: I notice that Rebecca appears to be using www.trainerroad.com on the book cover to record her sessions. Trainer Road is a superb addition for those of us without a power meter (a review is soon to follow).
This, as Amazon states, is a highly recommended read if you’re new to indoor cycling, or have been turbo training a short while but want professional guidance on how to take your indoor cycling fitness to the next level.
Who is Rebecca and why should I take her advice?
Rebecca Ramsay, nee Bishop, is a former multi-sport athlete: cross country ski champ, international triathlete and international cyclist with elite status who signed as a professional in 1998. She is also a certified personal trainer (NESTA, NCCA accredited).
At present she is a full-time mother of two and is focused on writing on the subject of cycling fitness and training. She also has an active interest in helping mothers become fitter, happier and healthier and plans to write eBooks for this market as well.
Rebecca answers the question – why should I read this guide? I aim to keep my guides short and simple to understand. I know you don’t have time to read a long, detailed science laden cycling book, so I summarise the science and try to give you exactly what you need to know to improve, and I keep the language simple.
If you would like more free cycling training or general fitness help, please visit my cycling website www.easycycling.com. At present on the site I have a FREE 4 Week Winter Training Programme download on sign up to my Ezine.
Additionally, you can find me on my Facebook Page where I’d love to hear from you!
Rebecca has a second eBook that has just been released, it’s available for the Amazon Kindle: The Time-Starved Cyclist’s Training Formula: how to find TIME to train for 100-miles – and NOT get divorced!
A review of this will follow shorty on Cycling Shorts.
CyclingShorts Rating: A real help for the busy novice – and not so novice – ‘indoor’ cyclist, we give it our Star Buy status giving it 100%…. you can’t fault it!
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners – a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
Available for Kindle
RRP £1.99 (Digital)
The Obree Way
a Training Manual for cyclists
by Graeme Obree.
Edited & Produced by: Maximise Marketing & Event Ltd & obree.com
£30 for A4 hardback
£4.64 for Amazon Kindle Edition (at time of writing)
“Training is bad for you! Training followed by rest and proper nutrition is good for you and will make you better prepared for the event you are training for.” Graeme Obree.
This manual sees the legendary Graeme Obree taking his own unique, and forgive the hyperbole, scientifically holistic, approach to the concept of training, performance and the science within – in all its forms. It is full of deep insights and ideas, the sort you that make sense as soon as you read them. If anyone has the passion, intelligence and focus to both follow this path and to achieve their goals it is Graeme. After all, as the great Robert Millar states ‘he’s got the t-shirt’. Rugby great, John Beattie, sums it up best in his forward when he says, ‘this training manual is different. It makes the complex simple and is for social cyclist as much as the elite. As you read it you hear a great mind at work, thinking the issues through. Issues easily applied to sports other than cycling.’
‘The knowledge here is extraordinary.’ John Beattie, British & Irish Lions.
This is a practical guide for cyclists new and experienced and is well served by thoughtful use of illustrations (by Elliot McIntosh, a student at Dundee University), photographs and quotes. Obree describes the book as his personal modus operandi. As much an attempt to add clarity to the often contradictory advice flooding the sport as an objective manual for the aspiring champion. Obree does offer many opinions, often based purely on his own experiences (sample size of one), but to his credit he states clearly when this is the case and usually offers a deeper insight into the formation of such statements. If only more health & fitness writers took this approach then the seemingly daily bombardment of the anecdotal would be replaced by the evidence based, and we would all be a little clearer in our approach to smoother and faster riding.
‘I hope the advice I’d of use and can make a difference to readers in some small way.’ Graeme Obree.
The books consists of thirteen chapters, fifteen if you count the conclusion and photo gallery and starts with the often overlooked question ‘what is training?‘ Obree focuses on specificity to outcome but with greater thought and flexibility than is usual, with specific focus on recovery recognition – an area I for one have often made big mistakes in! He covers, often with uncomfortable truths thrown in, group rides, solo rides, indoor, outdoor, and what a cyclist needs to think about, recognise in themselves, and to do, in order to adapt and to improve physiologically. The psychological is strongly implied and is a recurring theme throughout – assess your strengths and weaknesses, constantly.
‘… I am, dispensing with commercial sponsorship (not for the first time) and by bringing you the truth as I have analysed it and used to have the success I have had in my career.’ Graeme Obree
The essence of Obree’s message is that training is an activity that once completed, including recovery, makes you better at the activity than before you underwent ‘training’. The rest of the book sets out to help you achieve this lofty goal.
First steps, chapter two, is where Obree describes his fascination with the measurable variables of training alongside the feel of both body and mind. It explains, following a positivist scientific methodology, the need to know your bike/turbo set up and to measure and monitor your performance. Dotted throughout this and all chapters are many little gems of knowledge. The puncture prevention tips are ones I wish I hadn’t had to learn the hard – and costly – way while pulling out thorns on the road from Wigan to Ecclestone!
Chapter three focuses on bike set up; very useful geometry and equipment choices are laid out in terms of your realistic aspirations as a cyclist – reliability and cost… Ok, aerodynamics too!
‘Light, strong, cheap. Choose any two!’ Graeme Obree
Chapter four, The Turbo Session, is Obree’s homage to the equipment, the systematic, the psychological (again) and the preparation needed to perform better than you have before. As ever, there is an almost obsessive focus on on the details of performance setting, analysis and evaluation, but all presented like an affable coffee stop chat, and much better they are for this style too. Dare I say that ‘marginal gains’ may summarise the thinking here? Suddenly the thought of an hour or two on the turbo has new meaning. It has certainly helped me.
Chapter five, Training, is where I clearly felt the gulf between weekend warrior and serious, or elite, rider manifest itself. This is a chapter that is a must read if you want to improve and it certainly ticked a lot of the “I should be doing that” boxes that I have often found floating to the forefront of my thoughts while pootling about the Rhein-Sieg and Eifel (not forgetting the lanes of Essex and Wigan) but, usually, failed to implement with any consistency. I found the his critique of the seven-day training cycle very useful and have, well will (as soon as the snow melts), follow his advice as closely as I can.
“Fundamentally other riders want to talk to you on a two hour ride but the truth is if you can chat then you are wasting you time and [the] opportunity to improve.” Graeme Obree
Obree covers nutrition and hydration: pre, during and post ride, training frequency, intensity and recovery. There is a thought provoking focus on ‘real’ food as opposed to supplementation and training specificity.
Chapter six is is where Obree focus on the ubiquitous psychology of preparation. He emphasises the power of positive thinking and realistic, yet ambitious, goal setting. It is interesting to read about how Obree prepared himself mentally before some of his biggest races. However most of the psychology coved is in full agreement with current performance paradigms, think Dr. Steve Peters and his chimp paradox, but if it helps you then it is a chapter well read. One aspect Obree adds here is routine in thought processes. It’s what worked for him.
Chapter seven, the psychology of racing. As you are now aware the mind is a major player in Obree’s world. No Corinthian he. Prime motives are what are needed and it is the mind that separates the winners from the rest. A chapter for the elite racer lurking inside us all. However, much truth is written here that could benefit each and every reader, rider and racer. Visualisation played a key role in Obree’s own preparations and his rationale is explained in detail. More food for thought.
“A thought is like a thing. Everything you have and do began with a thought.” Graeme Obree
Breathing, chapter eight, is fascinating and presents a novel, at least to me, method of inhalation and exhalation when riding. Obree can be heard explaining this on Resonance FM’s Bike Show podcast from January 31, 2012. (Available via iTunes) I must admit to having had little success here – perhaps I’m always too out of breath to give it an honest go. Here’s the cycle, to give you taster, deep breath now…
– Full breath out (the most important part), Full breath in.
– half breath out, mostly breath back in.
– quarter breath out, breath back in a little.
I rarely get past the second step. Perhaps my nostril and tongue technique – also explained in the chapter – is lacking in finesse. I showed this chapter to a couple of yoga expert friends and both seemed rather impressed by the thinking, process and description. Practice makes prefect I guess… Back to the mat for me!
Chapter nine cover the act, possibly art, of pedalling. A fine chapter – it includes lots of physics so I would say that! The mystery of crank length is covered and then the best techniques to use to turn them, both in and out of the saddle are presented. The aim? To look a classy rider, oh and to improve performance.
Chapter ten is where I really feel somewhat the hypocrite through my own staggering lack of application: Stretching. All is explained from the perspective of specificity and four very useful – even I can, almost, do them – stretches are presented cover all all the major muscles used in cycling. Full colour photographs of Graeme in full stretch accompany the text.
The time trial, the race of truth, is covered, as you would expect, in minute detail in chapter eleven. Who better to learn from? The essence seems to be position, information gathering, set up, equipment selection, and rhythm. Perhaps I’ll try one, one day? They don’t hurt too much do they?
Chapter twelve sees a return to nutrition and diet. It contains a lot of good, solid sense and takes a traditional, real food approach. Obree seems to be no fan of the supplement – as his famous jam sandwich and mouthful marzipan tip will make clear. Cooking your own food from basic, healthy, ingredients is the theme, even down to the baking of your own low-sodium bread. Timing of refuelling is treated with care. Indeed, Obree treats nutrition planning as obsessively as he does training and bike set up. His success lends weight to his argument. You are what you eat.
Illness and other matters conclude the main chapters and includes minimising the chances of illness, when and when not to with and after illness, drinking and eating on the bike safely, hygiene – body and kit (several acquaintances of the road could well do with reading the kit bit!) The message is consistent with all other chapters – learn to listen, feel and respect what your body is telling you. No one would argue with its primary health care message.
The conclusion is best left to Graeme himself. His words neatly summarise the purpose of this novel, useful and, yes, fascinating, book
“Please trust me that this body of honest work is given in the best spirit, I have been the guinea-pig in e quest to refine my training on every level and I can commend it really does work. Knowledge and understanding is a constant quest. This book is not definitive and keeping an open mind on new findings and developments is not only a good thing but essential if you are serious in your search for new and better ways to improve your cycling and athletic performance.
Information is the golden thread throughout this book.
The more information you compile in relation to your preparation for any chosen event then the better prepared for your task you can become and this can make the difference between being a club rider and a world champion. My quest as an athlete was always to go into minute detail in the areas I could influence to affect the outcome to my advantage in terms of my performance. Trust me, if you take care in all aspects of your preparation and performance you will become an improved cyclist and perform better in your chosen discipline, if that is your goal.” Graeme Obree.
I’d give The Obree Way 99% for content, honesty and the fact it’s self-published!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.