Does the position on your bike on the indoor trainer need to be changed compared to when you cycle on the road? The bike on the indoor trainer has no lateral oscillations that help your cycling. What does this mean? We answer all these questions with Niklas Quetri from ASG Bike Science, my trusted biomechanist
In my experience, it is not worth changing the position on the bike; there is no reason to do so if indoor training is alternated with outdoor training sessions or perhaps, as in the case of triathletes, is interspersed with other kinds of training such as running and swimming.
“In any case, we would be speaking about long-term adaptations – confirms Niklas -, which would be less when indoor training sessions are alternated with outdoor sessions. To explain what exactly changes, let us see how our muscles behave. When cycling on the indoor trainer the muscles of the rectus femoris and hamstring work harder. The psoas ileum also works much more, due to a greater intensity of the recovery phase of the foot and the almost total absence of inertia. There is also a greater involvement of the adductors especially because, in the absence of the lateral oscillation that the bike has on the road, the body compensates this absence by using these muscles as stabilizers. Since cycling indoor is much more static, the abs tend to work less, as does the gluteus maximus and they therefore require separate strength training”.
The issue of the absence of lateral oscillation when training on indoor trainers is a question that I often find myself facing also with the athletes I train. This is one of the most obvious things to anyone who cycles indoor. What happens is that the body has to compensate for this oscillation, unless you are lucky enough to own a latest generation smart trainer, such as the one I use, the Tacx Neo2T Smart which has a system in the wheel hub that simulates this movement.
“Exactly – Niklas specifies -. Today’s top-of-the-range indoor trainers actually allow you to simulate the oscillation of the bike. There are also brands that produce a sort of board on which it is possible to fix the roller and thus make the whole ‘roller-bike-athlete’ complex sway. This is clearly always a palliative solution, which does not fully correspond to what happens on the road, but it gets close. If this kind of advanced product is not used, it goes without saying that the body has to compensate a lot for the absence of lateral oscillation and therefore puts more pressure on the core muscles, on the shoulders and more friction can occur between the saddle and the pelvis”.