If you’re looking to get quick on a bike fast then there’s no doubt about it, the TrainerRoad app is an excellent way to go about it. Improvements in fitness can often be hard to come by, and there’s often a certain amount of guesswork involved in your training. TrainerRoad removes the guesswork from the equation and leaves you with tried and tested indoor training plans and workouts that’ll have you knocking your PB’s out of the park.
My first experience with TrainerRoad saw me take my FTP figure of 287 and increase it to 348 after just six weeks of following their High Volume II Sweet Spot plan. Granted, I had been under the weather shortly before performing my start point FTP test, and this figure may have been slightly low, but still, a hugely impressive gain in FTP.
Costing $12 monthly or $99 annually, TrainerRoad is compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS and Android devices. At its core, the TrainerRoad app is simply a software application that reads ANT+/Bluetooth signals produced by your power meter/smart trainer/cadence/speed sensors and provides graphs to display this data. It also has the ability to set and control your power if using a smart trainer using what is called ERG mode.
All this may not seem a big deal, but combine it with the 1,000+ workouts available and the numerous set training plans on offer, and you end up with a heavyweight piece of training armory.
The range of workouts available is staggering, with 100’s of different workouts across all set power zones, a choice of FTP tests, short 15-minute workouts through to 6-hour epic endurance efforts, every possible area of training is covered comprehensively in the TrainerRoad app workout library.
Many of these workouts even have coaching instructions transmitted to you whilst riding, having you carry out extra work within a session such as cadence drills or riding in different positions, thus maximizing training effect from every workout.
All these workouts are tailored to your set FTP value and based upon a % of it. If you know your FTP you can just enter it into your TrainerRoad profile, if not, then you can perform an FTP test. TrainerRoad has two different FTP tests available for you to carry out, either the traditional 20-minute test or a 2x 8-minute FTP test. It doesn’t matter too much which one you choose, but you should stick to the same one for long term testing.
Once you have your FTP test completed you can select a specific training plan. Here you have a wide range of choice depending on what time of year it is, your specific goals, and what type of rider you are. There’s traditional base plans, sweet spot base plans, build phases and specialty phases catering for road, mtb, and TT riders. There’s even dedicated triathlete plans.
Training plan blocks on the TrainerRoad app are usually between 6-8 weeks in length and the intended use is for you to run through them in order; Traditional Base > Sweet Spot Base > Tailored Build > Speciality Phase. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from starting any set plan at any point, creating your own training plan from the workout library or just choosing workouts to perform at random.
TrainerRoad also features its own workout creator. This means that if you’re undertaking a training plan from somewhere else such as TrainingPeaks, you can create set workouts in the creator and carry them out on the TrainerRoad app.
TrainerRoad’s user interface is a no thrills, clear, easy to follow and understand display. A big blue, block graph shows your prescribed workout with details of your current power and HR tracking through from left to ride as your workout progresses. Target power vs actual power is displayed on the top left-hand side of your screen, while your current heart rate and cadence are visible on the top right-hand side corner. Total workout time left and current interval time are both displayed centrally on screen.
One useful on screen setting is the adjustable percentage +/- power button. Although the idea with the TrainerRoad app workouts is that you should ride them at the prescribed power rate, sometimes, while training in ERG mode, things just need dialing up or down a notch. This can be especially useful if you don’t feel sufficiently warmed-up come the start of an interval, or if you’re feeling a little under the weather. Likewise, you may find your fitness has improved, and you need to turn up the heat if a session isn’t stressing you as it should.
TrainerRoad will save and record every training session and give you in-depth analysis of each workout, displaying TSS, NP & IF values along with calories burnt, time spent in specific zones and HR details. This data is stored and available for you to view at any point through your TrainerRoad Career page. TrainerRoad can also be synced directly with Strava, Training Peaks and Dropbox meaning ride data is easily transferable between the different apps and programs.
It’s not essential that you have a smart trainer or power meter, but there’s no doubt that the TrainnerRoad app excels most when used in conjunction with a smart trainer such as the Tacx Neo or Wahoo Kickr. If you don’t have either, then fret not. TrainerRoad have cleverly developed a system to calculate virtual power readings through the use of a speed sensor and traditional trainer making the TrainnerRoad app extremely accessible to all users.
The only downside I find to the TrainerRoad app is that sometimes staring at the same old blue graph daily can get a bit monotonous. I highly recommend throwing in a weekly race on Zwift, or taking part in the Tuesday Pro4mance ride just to break things up a bit. And, of course, a weekly ride outdoors, otherwise your core strength will begin to suffer.
There’s a rawness about TrainerRoad I love, and although in comparison to Zwift, it doesn’t offer the same level of user interactivity, there’s no doubting its ability to take a rider and drastically improve their fitness levels in a very short space of time. TrainerRoad trains you, coaches you, nourishes you with information and turns you into a conscientious and knowledgeable athlete. When it comes to dedicated indoor FTP training, TrainerRoad is the best in the business, period.
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