Indoor training & Sufferfest video review

For those of us lucky enough to live in a part of the world where we can virtually ride out bikes year round, the trainer and training videos are literally an absolute last resort.  However, the reality is, there is a huge proportion of cyclists, both competitive and recreationally, who are unable to ride their bicycles outdoors year round.  Indoor spin classes, cross training and setting up a bike on a stationary trainer become a huge part of the cyclist’s training schedule.

Volume and intensity always need to be carefully balanced throughout the season and is best done with the help of a coach who is more experienced and knowledgeable than you are and will also help with all those ‘second guessing’ moments a self-coached athlete no doubt faces from time to time.  The inherent nature of riding the trainer versus riding outside puts a qualifier on the time spent on the trainer in terms of intensity and volume.  In other words, most would agree that you’re far more likely to put in more time outside than you are on a trainer on any given day.  Boredom sets in rather quickly on a trainer, and as a result, getting the most ‘bang for your buck’ on the trainer is a high priority.  In a perfect world, the athlete and coach would be able to put together a winter training plan that filters in trainer work-outs as weather requires. However, that’s almost impossible as predicting the weather within more than a day or two accurately is impossible.  Having stationary trainer work-out videos on hand that already have intensity built into them can be a valuable tool for a grab-off-the-shelf-last-minute-trainer-time-days.

The Sufferfest has a unique set of training videos that I would argue are unlike any you’ve ever tried.  A lot of people find that simply listening to music or sticking in a movie are all they need to put in some time on the stationary bike; and that may be true and hey, if it gets you on your bike when the weather is nasty out then great!  However, sometimes we need more than just ride time, we need some real, structured intensity; and sometimes watching a movie or even just listening to music won’t suffice.  There are lots of options out there, each with something to offer.  One of the Sufferfest videos that I was invited to do a product review on was ‘Local Hero’.  The video starts out describing your mission of competing in the Australian championships and what the expectations are from your federation: TO WIN! No pressure though…..

The video then gives an exact description of what your work-out will be in sets and minutes as well as a perceived exertion ‘Sufferscale’ of 1-10.  There are also a series of sounds to mark certain actions that you have to do with a gunshot being ATTACK! What’s so unique about these videos is that they include actual footage from real races like you’re on the bike participating; and whose heart rate isn’t going to go up watching that?  You’ll recognize the faces and kits of many of your favorite professionals. Your competitive nature will have a hard time NOT racing. The required ‘Sufferscale’ score and cadence are always posted as a reminder and occasional written motivational heckles are also sprinkled in.  The music is an eclectic mix of classic rock, alternative, house and spliced together to keep things interesting and ensure that you won’t get bored of any one song.  One of my favorite parts is actually the ending.  As you do your cool down, you’re treated to some fun bike polo and kids on bikes videos to add a little laughter to your sufferfest session.

Whether you choose just music, a classic movie or a structured program of intensity training video, having a back-up plan for foul weather and unforeseen time limitations and changes in your personal life is a valuable tool to have any cyclist’s training plan.

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