Adrian does an excellent job of turning his readers on to the benefits of high-intensity interval training in their quest for weight loss. His How to do high intensity interval training to lose weight fast article describes the principle very well. It's the style of workout I do on a bike trainer.
For several years now, I've been researching and writing reviews on top-notch cycling products. My articles have run the gambit from cycling helmets to cycling shoes, but my current passion is writing bike trainer reviews.
Let me lay out for you how the right bike trainer can be the tool you need in order to follow Adrian's interval advice…no matter what the conditions are outside. After all, trying to ride a bike in the heat, traffic, rain or snow is not only uncomfortable and frustrating; it can be foolhardy.
Some readers may confuse bike trainers with stationary bikes. Stationary bikes are 'stand-alone' units that take up a lot of space in the exercise room. On the other hand, bike trainers are portable units that you attach your bike to so that your bike doubles as an indoor exercise machine.
There are basically three styles of bike trainers…
Keeping in mind that Adrian's readers are going to be doing hard efforts interspersed with easy efforts, you'll want to get a trainer that can resist enough to allow you to pedal very hard for 10-40 seconds.
Fluid trainers are definitely capable of providing many times more resistance than even the strongest riders (think Tour de France cyclists) can put out. This is the style of trainer that the pros use when they need to warm up for a race or if they need to ride a workout under very controlled conditions.
Fluid trainers are also the most costly of the three styles, with a good fluid trainer selling for around $300.00. Several companies are making fluid trainers that don't leak (leaking was a near-universal problem with early fluid trainers), which eliminates the last stumbling block that was keeping fluid trainers from being embraced by hard-core cyclists.
While mag trainers can't resist at levels up to 3000 watts, as can a fluid trainer, they are more than adequate for just about any rider doing intervals.
Mag trainers develop their resistance by moving an aluminum flywheel through a magnetic field, which creates drag. The most basic mag trainers require the rider to dismount to alter the resistance level, while the more sophisticated units have a control that mounts to the handlebars for changing the workload.
There's even a new style, called the CycleOps Magneto, that alters the resistance level automatically by letting centrifugal force change the position of the magnets as the flywheel spins faster.
Bottom-line: mag trainers will do perfectly well for most riders, and they cost about a hundred dollars less than fluid trainers.
Wind trainers may or may not be adequate as tools for following Adrian's interval-training advice. When it comes to really 'putting out' on a wind trainer during the hard part of the workout, two potential problems come to mind.
But let me backtrack a little bit. I have to remind myself that my experience is with bike racing and the extreme workouts that training for racing entails. The vast majority of readers of this article don't race their bikes like a bunch of maniacs, so the amount of resistance needed to get in a good interval workout may be much different than what I'm used to.
I suppose the best thing to do would be to get yourself down to a bike store and give the different styles a spin. You'll want to ride that thin line between 'getting enough trainer', and not 'wasting your money' on a trainer that you'll never be able to push to its limits.
At least now you know a bit about the different styles of trainers…and who knows, if you're at a 'box store' you may be even more knowledgeable than the salesperson.
Of course, it's all about the lack of shock and the nature of the movements. It isn't too hard to understand that there's a lot of shock to the joints when running, but there's something else that separates it from cycling.
Running (especially sprinting) is a series of short, explosive contractions, while cycling is much like swimming, in that the contractions are smoother.
Because of this, people who wouldn't dream of sprinting (for what it's worth…most Americans haven't sprinted for so long that they'd probably fall flat on their faces if they tried) will have no problem 'turning the pedals' as fast as they can on a stationary bike without tearing up their legs.
And that's an extremely important advantage.
If you've been around Adrian for any length of time, I'm sure you've read his articles about what happens to your body after a high intensity workout. In short, your metabolism is elevated for up to several hours after you've finished your workout.
When I was training hard for marathons, my wife would tell me that she could feel the bed moving with each of my heart beats. And that was at night, hours after my interval workouts.
What that means to you is that your body will be burning calories long after the huffing and puffing is over. And thanks to a bike, you now have access to the type of workouts that were previously performed by only the most well-conditioned athletes.
So go to Adrian's Exercise bike weight loss interval workout video and get started.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for 'all things cycling'. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike… and looking for good cycling products.