Are workouts on the trainer harder than the road?

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Workouts on the trainer are more predicable than those on the road. You do not have to deal with the elements, traffic or animals. When using a trainer, you can be more consistent and focused on your workout. You can set the resistance and complete a workout using your heart rate target zones in an easier manner on the trainer as compared to riding outside. 

However, most basic trainers do not allow you to adjust the resistance on the fly to simulate hill climbing, riding downhill and riding with good form. 

Overall, when you have limited ability to ride outside due to weather conditions, a trainer workout can be a good replacement for outside workouts. 

The answer is maybe. On a trainer, there is no coasting. There are no down hills or breaks unless you decide to stop pedaling, and you can probably achieve more pedaling time during a ride. You also may be able to achieve a little higher average wattage by eliminating those coasting parts and even produce more kilojoules of energy and burn up a few more calories per hour while sweating out your workout indoors. Does this mean you need to reduce your workout time on the trainer? Well, probably not. Most of us have to fit our training around work, family, and the weather so we’re not training at our maximal physical capacity anyway, and by doing your workout on the trainer, you’re just getting a little more bang out of your workout time. My advice for those facing trainer workouts for the winter is to get a good fan (or two), create a good workout environment with some visual and auditory stimulus, and have at it. Doing a field test for trainer workouts may not be necessary if you create the right environment for those workouts and adapt to the conditions indoor. You may need to work up to those outdoor values but they can be achieved by adapting to the environment and to the differences of the resistive forces of the trainer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.