Watt bikes allow you to train efficiently and effectively, increasing your cycling strength and fitness without the obstacles associated with riding outdoors. This is our beginner’s guide!
Many of us get motivated to get fitter and faster in our sport of choice but then get caught up in the daily doings of things and struggle to actually make time in our schedule. While cycling and mountain biking are fantastic sports to get your body moving and increase your fitness level, they require quite a lot of admin and also time if you really want to see results from your training.
The beauty of the watt bike is that you can get some very time efficient training that packs a punch while in a convenient and safe environment. Cycling outdoors requires some form of route planning, sometimes transporting your bike to an ideal location, dodging traffic or unsafe areas, and regular cleaning of the bike to mention a few things. While the joys of cycling outside certainly outweigh those obstacles, not all of us can afford the time for it.
What is a watt bike?
At the basic level, a Watt Bike is a stationary cycling machine that allows one to do cycling specific training in a safe indoor environment. The pedals are connected to a resistance mechanism for you to work against and the levels of resistance are variable to facilitate different training programmes and climbing simulations.
Where can I find a watt bike?
You can purchase an indoor bike to use in your home if you have the resources and space available, or you can check in with your local gym which will likely have several bikes and maybe even some spinning classes for you to join. The social aspect of joining a watt bike spinning class is something to be embraced! Having a regular group that you spin with helps with accountability in your training schedule and makes the experience more fun.
How do I train on a watt bike?
The spinning classes that we have spoken about will typically have various training sessions which you can choose from to suit your needs and ability. There are a lot of free online resources to help you put together a training session but to find the optimum training programme that suits your ability, lifestyle and goals, getting in touch with a professional trainer is going to deliver the best results! Read Lexi’s watt biking story below for some inspiration!
Lexi’s watt bike story
Lexi Bird, founder of Ma Mère Confections and a keen mountain biker, recently got into watt bike training while preparing to take on the 3 day Wines2Whales mountain bike stage race. We asked Lexi about her experience of training with a watt bike and what her top tips are for watt bike beginners.
WA: So Lex, what drove you to start Watt biking in preparation for your stage race?
Lexi: Access to time! Between 2 kids and a full time job I didn’t have the luxury of hitting the mountain as much as I needed to and the watt bike provided the perfect solution.
WA: What was the biggest hurdle for you to get over when you started watt biking and how did you navigate that?
Lexi: I definitely struggled a little in the beginning because I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up downloading the W2W training guide on their site and tried to replicate all the 60-90 minute sessions on the watt bike.
WA: How regularly were you training on the watt bike versus other training in the lead up to Wines2Whales? It is something that you will keep incorporating into future training campaigns when needed?
Lexi: I did 2 – 3 sessions on the watt bike per week. I actually think it did me much more good than physically jumping on the bike as it’s easier to keep your eyeballs on your heart rate when you are not cruising down the mountain. I was able to train way more specifically and stick to my various zones with much more efficiency which really boosted my fitness. (Keep in mind I only really started putting in work about 5 weeks prior to W2W so I needed all the help I could get).
WA: You mentioned that you made use of the training sessions detailed in the Wines2Whales training guide. How difficult would it be for you to design an effective watt bike training plan for yourself?
Lexi: The W2W training program had some pretty rad sessions on it. Now that I have done a couple of hours in the pain cave I feel like I can now start putting together my own sessions as I have a basic feel for what works for me.
WA: For you, what has been the most notable benefit of watt biking?
Lexi: My general fitness has significantly increased, what I also found interesting was how quickly the watt bike sessions started translating onto the trail. The sessions may be shorter than your average outdoor ride but it’s a serious quality over quantity type work out. Watt biking is really great for riders who are cool with the technical stuff but need a boost in the speed and endurance department. That being said, I also feel like my technical skills and ability have really improved as well simply because I now have more power to get up and over technical segments of the trail.
WA: Having now figured out the ups and downs of watt biking for yourself. What would be 2 pieces of advice that you would give to a watt biking newbie?
Lexi: Correct setup is vital, if you wake up with numb hands the day after – then you need to get some advice.
Secondly I think following a program will definitely give you the best results, there are tons online (wattbike also has a very useful app with millions of workouts)
What are you waiting for? Take the first step and you’ll be enjoying the fitness boost you’ve been needing in no time!