How to adapt to indoor or virtual cycling | HotChillee tips!

Outdoors to indoors – How to adapt your cycling to the virtual world

If you’re usually out tapping out the miles at this time of year, having to take your riding inside might be a bit of a shock and will probably require a bit of a mindset shift. Check out this article about getting started indoors but here are some more tips for adapting your cycling to the indoor or virtual world.

HotChillee CC Zwift Sigma Sports


Plan your week

If you usually ride outside through the spring and summer, although you may do some structured sessions, you’ll probably just be out enjoying the road or trail beneath your tyres. This is brilliant and, if you listen to your body, you’re very unlikely to overdo it. However, with indoor riding, especially on Zwift, it’s very easy to get sucked into beating yourself up every day.

Why it’s important

With the current situation, maintaining good immune function is vital and doing daily high intensity sessions on the turbo isn’t going to help with that. It’s vital to balance and plan your workouts and to avoid running yourself down.


Quality not quantity

It’s important with indoor training to get out of the more is more or mile munching mindset. You’ll get far better returns from your indoor riding and stay healthier if you opt for quality rather than quantity.

There isn’t an issue with doing hard workouts but they have to be balanced with appropriate recovery.

Workouts should either be hard and short (30-60 minutes) or, if you are wanting to do some longer rides, very easy.

Very easy particularly applies to any “recovery rides”. These should be strict Zone 1, imagining that your cranks are made out of glass. If you don’t stick to this the ride won’t fulfil its recovery goal, you’ll simply build unnecessary fatigue, log virtual junk miles and limit gains from previous or subsequent workouts. If you don’t think you’ll be able to resist jumping on the wheels of other avatars, consider some yoga, Pilates or other off the bike restorative activity.

It’s also essential on longer indoor rides (90 mins+) to fuel and hydrate well. Not doing so and depleting yourself can lower immune function.


Hard day, easy day

A good rule of thumb is that a hard workout day or a longer ride day should always be followed by an easy day. This can be a recovery ride as long as the criteria above are stuck to but why not take the opportunity to do some off the bike work?


Just three rides

The vast majority of riders will see significant progress by consistently doing just three indoor sessions per week.

Ideally these sessions should be:

X1 session focussing on VO2 (Zone 5), Anaerobic Capacity (Zone 6), Sprints or Big Gear type work. This session could also be a short “Crit-City” race on Zwift. Your highest intensity session should ideally be done earliest in the week when you’re freshest.

X1 session focussing on Tempo (Zone 3), Sweet-Spot (Zones 3/4) or Threshold (Zone 4) type efforts depending on ability. This session could also be a Chain-Gang type session, sustained climbing workout, time trial or Hare and Hounds type race on Zwift.

X1 session focussing on endurance. This should be predominately Zone 2, 90-180 minutes – depending on your boredom capacity and good fuelling is essential.


At least one day of full rest

Along with the hard day and easy day rule, the other golden rule of weekly training structure is to have at least one full day off per week.


What a week might look like

So, bearing all this in mind, an example week might look like.

Monday: Sprint workout eg. HotChillee Serrano
Tuesday: VirtChillee Tuesday social ride @ recovery pace
Wednesday: VirtChillee Wednesday ride Jalapeño (3X10 mins Sweet-Spot)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Yoga/Pilates
Saturday: Endurance 90-180mins Zone 2 eg. UKZwifters 2-hour Sportive
Sunday: Rest

Final thought

If you can shake the more is more mindset and embrace the brave new world of quality balanced by recovery, we’d predict, by following this sort of structure for the next 12 weeks or so, that you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the improvement in your cycling performance when we are all released onto the roads and trails again. Try it, what have you got to lose?

All HotChillee CC members will be receiving regular e-mails informing them of upcoming VirtChillee Rides and including workout files that you can upload and use on Zwift.

Keep an eye on our blog for more tips and advice on getting the most out of your indoor riding and why not tweet us @HotChilleeCC a pic of your pain cave.


ian holmes pain cave