Tag Archives: Turbo trainer

GUIDE: Gym versus outdoor cycling – which is better?

Which is a better workout, an exercise bike in the gym, or an outdoor ride on a proper bike? For us at Ribble, there’s no contest – getting out in the elements on your favourite route beats quite literally going nowhere on a trainer bike every time!

Sure, the weather or darker winter months may force you to cycle indoors, or you could use an indoor trainer for specific interval training, but our preference is nearly always to get outdoors.

Is there any science behind the idea that outdoor cycling is better for you? We’ve taken a look:

Outdoor cycling uses a wider range of muscles

One factor people tend to forget is that when you’re riding a bike on the road, you’re not just using your legs to pump the pedals – you’re also using your whole body to keep the bike balanced, particularly when you’re going fast.

Core muscles like the stomach, back and abdominal muscle groups get a greater workout when you’re keeping a bike balanced, and if you stand, lean or duck while you’re negotiating hills, your shoulders and upper body are taking the strain too.

While you might get some degree of the same workout on a fixed-down exercise bike, you don’t have the same impetus to do so – i.e., keeping yourself upright! So you’re less likely to use as many muscles as you do on the road at the gym.

Riding outdoors pushes you harder

Some argue that you’ll train harder in a gym setting, inspired by the other people around you, than if you were out on the road on your tod – however, at least one study suggests the opposite’s true.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha asked 12 keen cyclists to ride 40km on two separate days: one indoors on a training bike, the other outdoors on flat roads. Although they were asked to put the same amount of effort into both, researchers found they exerted up to 30% more power and worked up higher heart rates on the outdoor ride.

It’s unclear why this is – maybe riding outdoors, with the scenery rolling by, cycling harder doesn’t feel like as much work as it does in the gym, where you’re more focused on your energy levels. Either way, it’s another point in favour of the great outdoors.

You’ll feel the benefit in cold weather

Most gyms maintain the same air-conditioned temperature all year round, but Mother Nature isn’t quite so forgiving. But do you actually burn more calories in cold weather training?

There’s no clear consensus on this. We know the basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn while doing nothing) increases slightly in the cold, but this is hardly likely to make a noticeable difference. It’s also thought that people have more “beige fat” (which burns more easily) in the winter months than in summer.

However, researcher and endurance athlete Michael Joyner MD says cold conditions help your body regulate its temperature better, enabling you to exercise longer and harder than you would otherwise. So while the cold might not do the work for you, it can help you push yourself further.

Finally, it seems intuitive that exercising in the freezing cold outdoors helps develop greater resilience and mental toughness than pedalling away in a climate-controlled gym… but we might be biased.

Best bikes for your improved workout

So hopefully we’ve made our case for why you should ditch the gym membership and get out on the open road for your daily workout or commute to work. With that in mind, here are some of Ribble’s recommended bikes for fitness training and getting out there out on the road:

Evo Pro


Ribble Evo Pro carbon road bike

The Ribble Evo Pro (pictured above) is our popular entry-level carbon sportive road bike. This model has often been a first step into the world of cycling or maybe a cyclist’s first experience of the lightweight responsiveness of a carbon bike so we have acknowledged that by increasing the head tube for a more upright and comfortable position. The Evo Pro is the perfect weekend bike but could also be used for fast commuting and riding sportives and challenge rides.

Ribble CGR

Ribble CGR bike

The Ribble CGR is a light yet robust 7005 aluminium bike with disc brakes and clearance to take 35mm tyres. The key to to the CGR (above) is it’s versatility as a road commuter and all-round bike capable of everything from winter riding to summer trips along the towpath. This cleverly designed frame could easily become the key do-it-all bike that you are looking for.

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Ribble 7005 Winter Audax bike

This is a design classic we’re rightly proud of. The Ribble 7005 Winter Audax (above) is the bike that thousands of UK club racers turn to for their training sessions. With a 7005 aluminium frame and carbon bladed fork, together with mudguard and rear pannier mounts, it’s also a popular choice with commuters and tourers.

 

Guide: The Turbo Trainer is your friend – which one should you Buy?

Turbo trainers are convenient training devices that allow you to cycle indoors on your own bike away from the weather. They are great to keep your legs spinning throughout the year but especially in the autumn and winter months. The rear wheel of your bicycle is typically suspended from the unit, and when pedalling the resistance provided replicates the ‘feel’ of being out on the open road.

Why use a turbo?

If you watched Team Sky’s Chris Froome win his third Tour de France you probably could not fail to notice that his post-stage interviews were largely conducted as he warmed down on a ‘wireless’ turbo trainer. Whilst ‘wireless’ turbo trainers are useful for warming up and down before and after races, an ‘indoor’ turbo trainer really earns its keep in the colder months when weather or darkness discourage you from riding outdoors.

By training indoors, perhaps when the roads are icy, or you don’t have time to do a full outdoor training ride, you retain your fitness throughout the year and can also perform set structured training sessions without any interference from the weather or other road users.

Turbo trainer guide

Choosing a trainer: which is best for me?

Your choice will ultimately depend on your budget but factor in the type of sessions or amount of training you plan to do on it. If your training time on the turbo is going to be significant then it’s likely you’ll want to invest in a more sophisticated model. You might need to consider your neighbours and choose a quieter unit or your space to store it may be limited.

Turbo Trainer Guide

What type of turbo trainers are there?

There are many different styles of turbo trainers available to purchase and now an increase in the popularity of new ‘Smart’ trainers which can connect to social training ride programmes such as Zwift and TrainerRoad. The more sophisticated trainers are interactive and can be used with the associated software playing a laptop, television or even a projection screen in front of you. The main choice between the different trainers is the style of the resistance unit which vary in both price and feel.

Got you interested and want to see more?

READ OUR FULL TURBO TRAINER GUIDE HERE

VIEW ALL TRAINERS HERE