How to track indoor cycling workouts
Seven apps that you can use to track your indoor training
Indoor cycling used to be a bore, with not much more to look at than some numbers on a screen. But nowadays, the indoor cycling world is bigger and better than ever, with virtual bikes, games, the best turbo trainers, and worlds to explore. You can track your training, ride with friends, and race against other indoor cyclists from around the world, all from the comfort of home.
There are a few big-name apps that lead the way in the indoor training space – Zwift and Peloton have the biggest user-bases in all of indoor cycling, and both platforms continue to evolve and expand at a rapid rate. However, those aren’t the only ways you can track your indoor cycling workouts. There are a number of other indoor cycling apps, devices, and platforms that you can use to monitor your progress and work towards your goals. Here are seven ways to track your indoor cycling workouts.
Zwift is an app that you can use to ride and train in virtual worlds, connect with friends, and race against the world’s best. Available for Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, and Apple TV, a monthly Zwift subscription costs $14.99 per month, and with that, you’ll get access to all of its virtual worlds, group rides, community events and more.
The way Zwift works is that you connect your bike or trainer to the game using Bluetooth Smart or ANT+, where you can also connect any of the best heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence sensors, and controllable trainers. You don’t need one of the best cycling computers or head units to track your progress – all the information is tracked and saved in the Zwift app, which you can then upload to connected platforms such as TrainingPeaks or Strava.
Once your device is connected to Zwift, you’ll be riding through the virtual world, where your time, distance, speed, cadence, power, and heart rate are tracked every second. On Zwift, you’ll have access to thousands of workouts, tons of training plans, and group rides and races. There’s no shortage of tough training sessions in Watopia, and all of your rides will be tracked within the game itself.
The high-energy, music-pumping, instructor-led classes of Peloton are like no other. On the Peloton Bike or Peloton Digital (Peloton’s training app), you can track your indoor cycling workouts and compete against yourself and the leaderboard. Peloton is more about you vs you, rather than virtual racing, sprint segments, and experience points. It is focused on helping you get the most out of yourself while pushing through a tough workout.
The biggest catch with Peloton is that it’s expensive – the Peloton Digital app costs $19.49 per month without the Peloton Bike, or $39 per month with the Peloton Bike. With the Bike, you’ll get access to your personal metrics such as cadence and calories burned, and see yourself on the class leaderboard. Starting at £1,750 / $2,245, the Peloton Bike is the most expensive entry on this list, but it really is all-inclusive with 10 different types of classes to choose from, and live and on-demand workouts led by professional instructors available 24/7.
Wahoo Systm is another training app that you can use for structured workouts, as well as strength training, yoga, and mental training sessions. The difference in Wahoo Systm is that your training plan will be tailored to your unique physiology, strengths, and weaknesses after you complete the 4DP test. This one-of-a-kind power test measures your complete power profile as a cyclist and helps create a training plan that is uniquely designed for you.
Like Zwift, Wahoo Systm is an app available on Mac, Windows, Android and iOS, and costs $14.99 per month. Wahoo Systm tracks your training and progress just like Zwift, and you can upload your workout files to other third-party apps after your ride. A real added bonus is the off-the-bike sessions included in Wahoo Systm, while you can also track and upload throughout your training plan.
With every workout, Wahoo Systm provides a detailed explanation of the power, cadence, and heart rate targets that you want to hit, all of which you can analyse post-ride in the training calendar. For best results, complete the 4DP test as your first ride on the Wahoo Systm app which will then tell you which workouts you should focus on in order to improve your weakness and reach your cycling goals.
Garmin is a well-known name in cycling, and for good reason. The company has been designing high-quality head units for a number of years, and also has a number of other popular products such as heart rate monitors and smart trainers. The Garmin app can help you track your indoor cycling; and when paired with a Garmin head unit, the app will provide much more than other training apps.
On a Garmin GPS head unit, which you can sync to the Garmin app, you can track every aspect of your indoor ride from power and heart rate, to calories burned and average cadence. You’ll even have charts and graphs, as well as the Lap button which you can use to break your ride up into intervals. You can also receive notifications from your smartphone as long as you have it paired.
To track your indoor cycling workout on a Garmin device, simply choose the 'Indoor Cycling' activity from the home screen and off you go. Click ‘save’ at the end of your ride, and you’ll be able to analyse your ride within the Garmin app, as well as track your progress over time.
Not one that 'traditional cyclists' know much about, FitBit is an all-around health and wellness app that comes with a line of sleek wearables. Originally created to track your steps throughout the day, FitBit has expanded its capabilities and you can now track your indoor cycling workouts and log activities.
Called 'Spinning' on FitBit, your device will automatically track your heart rate, speed, time, and calories burned once you start your indoor ride. While it is more limited than other training apps, FitBit is user-friendly and has a line of wearables that fit easily around your wrist. At the push of a button, you can track your indoor cycling workouts, no matter where you are or what bike you’re on. FitBit is simple.
Built to make you a faster cyclist, TrainerRoad is one of the most efficient indoor cycling platforms available. Designed for cyclists and triathletes, the app features a no-nonsense approach to training which basically boils down to ERG mode workouts almost every day of the week. Available on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, TrainerRoad offers a variety of training plans organised into Base, Build, and Speciality categories, and narrowed down further based on your goal event, e.g. Ironman triathlon or 40K Time Trial Nationals.
In addition to the structured workouts, the TrainerRoad app gives you access to a TSS (training stress score) chart that shows you how much stress you are under during training, and how much will help you reach your goal. In each workout, you’ll be able to track all of your indoor cycling metrics such as power, heart rate, and cadence, information which is saved in the app for post-ride analysis.
The TrainerRoad app also provides updates on your FTP (functional threshold power) throughout your training calendar, which can help keep you motivated and focused on your goals. In the TrainerRoad app, you can also send workouts to your cycling devices or head units, which you can then complete on the indoor trainer or out on the open road.
Strava is a free app that is known for its live-tracking features and Strava segments. Available on iOS and Android, the Strava app can be used for all sorts of activity tracking including cycling, running, hiking, rowing, and more.
Strava works a bit differently than other apps on the indoor trainer. When you go to add an activity, you’ll need to select the 'Indoor Cycling' tag and manually input your data such as time and distance. Although it’s not as thorough as other indoor cycling apps, the Strava app is free, and you can track your training and analyse data over long periods of time.
The paid version of Strava will provide you with more details on your training calendar and progress, while even sending you personalized training to improve your fitness. Starting with the free version of the app, Strava has a lot to offer as a user-friendly way of tracking your indoor cycling workouts.
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Zach is a freelance writer, the head of ZNehr Coaching, and an elite-level rider in road, track, and e-racing. He writes about everything cycling-related, from buyer's guides to product reviews and feature articles to power analyses. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at Marian University-Indianapolis, Zach discovered a passion for writing that soon turned into a full-fledged career. In between articles, Zach spends his time working with endurance athletes of all abilities and ages at ZNehr Coaching. After entering the sport at age 17, Zach went on to have a wonderful road racing career that included winning the 2017 Collegiate National Time Trial Championships and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Pro National Time Trial Championships. Nowadays, Zach spends most of his ride time indoors with NeXT eSport.