General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Hills versus Trainer Rss Feed  
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2016-01-08 3:25 PM


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Subject: Hills versus Trainer
Happy New Year everyone!

I brought this question up in the middle of a different thread, but the more I thought on it the more I wanted to hear more opinions on it.

Currently I'm doing all my training rides on a trainer in my basement. I'm mixing up interval work with long rides. However I was recently looking at a biking plan that called for some hill work. It made me wonder if hard interval work on the trainer would do the same thing that outside hill work can do for you?

Is there anything you get out of specific hill work that you can't get out of the trainer?

Lastly, if I do all my training on a trainer indoors, and go do a race and run into hills, am I going to get dropped?

Thanks for the input everyone!


Alex

"Trust the process."


2016-01-08 3:44 PM
in reply to: linkslefty

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer
If you have a trainer like mine, a KK Road Machine, the resistance increases with speed so the power I would need to generate going up a steep hill can only be represented at a high speed. If you have one of those "smart" trainers I think they can give you sufficient resistance at lower speeds. For me, going up a 3-4% hill or so, I would need to generate 300 Watts or so of power to stay at 16-18 mph but 300W on my trainer will only show up at a speed of greater than 21-22 mph.

Let us know what kind of trainer you have, then I'm sure folks that know a lot more than I can offer suggestions.
2016-01-08 3:51 PM
in reply to: linkslefty

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer

Yes, harder interval workout is basically the same as the benefits of riding a hill...regardless if you are on the trainer, or outdoors on a flat road.  Hills do provide a form of "automatic resistance" in the sense that if you coast or pedal to lightly you will tip over, but if you are motivated enough to keep your intensity level up on your own, it doesn't really matter.

I like to do hill training mainly because at lower speeds while climbing, it's safer to put in really hard efforts.  I have much better control at 12-15 mph in avoiding road debris or if a car comes out of a driveway than trying to stay safe at 25+ mph for a hard effort.  I hate the trainer, but I'm guessing hard efforts on the trainer are also pretty safe.  

2016-01-08 5:16 PM
in reply to: linkslefty

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer

Per the above, trainer sessions can make one a very good hill climber (especially if you can control the resistance).

That said, there is also a mental aspect to hill climbing (IMO), that balance between wanting the pain to end sooner and being patient and staying within your limits. Yes, this is a total generalization, but most people in triathlons ride hills way too hard for their fitness levels.  I think learning how to dole out the effort equally so you ride over the top is best learned outside.  Again just my .02

2016-01-08 6:42 PM
in reply to: #5160543


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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer
Thanks for your feedback thus far. I have a cycleops magnetic trainer. I keep it on a higher resistance, and recently bought a 3LC time trial interval DVD that gets a real good burn going. I get the mental factor of riding real hills, but the logistics and weather haven't worked out real well and prob won't for the next 6 weeks, which will put me about 5 weeks into my HIM plan.
2016-01-08 11:59 PM
in reply to: #5160589

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer
To mimic the benefit, you'll want to make sure your cadence is lower while riding at near threshold effort levels. That typically means harde gearing, not just hard intervals.


2016-01-11 4:50 PM
in reply to: linkslefty

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer

While a trainer helps, it's only part of the effort for hill climbing.  If you're asking is riding a trainer at max effort equal to the effort required for hill climbing the answer is no.  A trainer helps build muscle and endurance, but to account for things like balance, bike handling, shifting, riding in a pack, et al ... you only improve these with time on the road.

Envision this ... pedaling up a hill at 5mph, granny gear maxed out, about to either puke or pass out, bobbing and weaving in the road to maintain balance, people are passing you or you're passing others AND this happens at mile 47 of a 50 mile ride ... how does riding a stationary trainer mimic this?  Short answer is it does not.  Trainers are fine for endurance,strength building and such for when one can't ride outside but seldom do much to improve bike handling, road awareness, balance and such.

As to your question about getting dropped ... the short answer is yes you will.  Unless your last name is Froome, van Garderen or such, you'll always get dropped.  My response is - so what ... getting dropped is overrated.  Is that what you're out there for ... to not get dropped, or to finish the race? 

Overall, keep working on the trainer, especially when you can't get outside to ride - but when you can get outside, take advantage of it.  The combo of these will work to make you a stronger cyclist overall.

2016-01-11 9:29 PM
in reply to: Dorm57

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer
Totally agree with this . . .

Originally posted by Dorm57

but to account for things like balance, bike handling, shifting, riding in a pack, et al ... you only improve these with time on the road


. . . you can achieve a lot in terms of fitness on the trainer, including efficiency at the low cadence/high power that you would get on a hill, but a real hill will feel different and tax your body differently. That being said, if it's cold and dark and you can't safely be outside, you're doing everything you can! Keep it up.
2016-01-11 11:49 PM
in reply to: Ershk

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer

Originally posted by Ershk Totally agree with this . . .
Originally posted by Dorm57 but to account for things like balance, bike handling, shifting, riding in a pack, et al ... you only improve these with time on the road
. . . you can achieve a lot in terms of fitness on the trainer, including efficiency at the low cadence/high power that you would get on a hill, but a real hill will feel different and tax your body differently. That being said, if it's cold and dark and you can't safely be outside, you're doing everything you can! Keep it up.

Know how to ride your bike, but don't get carried away with this. 

2016-01-12 12:14 PM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer

Originally posted by brigby1

Originally posted by Ershk Totally agree with this . . .
Originally posted by Dorm57 but to account for things like balance, bike handling, shifting, riding in a pack, et al ... you only improve these with time on the road
. . . you can achieve a lot in terms of fitness on the trainer, including efficiency at the low cadence/high power that you would get on a hill, but a real hill will feel different and tax your body differently. That being said, if it's cold and dark and you can't safely be outside, you're doing everything you can! Keep it up.

Know how to ride your bike, but don't get carried away with this. 

x2.  I fully agree that handling skills and cornering skills can greatly improve ones speed and efficiency while in a race, but training outdoors doesn't automatically make you better at those skills.  I know lots of people who ride outside all the time that can't handle their bike well at all.  Those are things you need to (and should) work on specifically.  Doing hill workouts outdoors doesn't guarantee you any significant improvement in handling skills over someone else who generally knows how to ride their bike but does most of their training on a trainer.

2016-01-12 4:50 PM
in reply to: linkslefty

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Subject: RE: Hills versus Trainer
I believe riding outside on all terrains can be beneficial. But don't let that keep you from riding your trainer. While not the only thing involved in cycling well, the watts are what is important. If you need to generate x watts to keep up with the pack on the hills, hit intervals on the trainer that improve you ability to generate those watts. Don't stress too much if you are stuck inside during the winter months just keep following the plan that has you increasing you watt output.


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