Not all indoor trainer workouts are "interval" workouts...nor should they be. I think there are a lot of cyclists out there that ALWAYS seem to be doing not only indoor "interval" workouts when they put their bikes on the trainer but hi-intensity interval workouts. Why? Because that's all I think they know how to do. At least that's what I see/witness when I join a group indoor training session...ESPECIALLY this time of year. Sure, it's ok to do an occasional hi-intensity "interval" workout to help maintain your cardio fitness and try to maintain some semblance of your peak Functional Threshold Power (FTP) (if that's important to you). But, this is NOT the time of the year to be going hard on the indoor trainer...or outside for that matter. In fact, when I ride outdoors this time of the year I keep the chain in the small chain ring and pedal at an average of 90+ rpm for the entire ride..including hills. And, NO COASTING. This is the only time of the year where I can honestly say I pay particular attention to cadence and ignore my power output. And, for all you "paralysis by analysis" Power Meter owners, this is a great time of year to ditch the Power Meter. I'm serious!
According to the classic Annual Training Plan (ATP) or Periodization Schedule (which I follow and recommend the athletes I coach to follow- for the most part), this is the "Preparation" period/phase...a period where you focus on general adaptation with weights, crosstraining, and on-bike drills. I already wrote a blog or two about crosstraining and weight training so I'm not going to get into that here. So, what kind of on-bike drills am I talking about? I'm talking about: Isolated Leg Training (ILT) drills, Spin-ups and Form-Sprints (and/or a combination of the three). Here's how to do a workout for each:
Isolated Leg Training (ILT)
Use a light resistance on the indoor trainer (Level 1/2). Put one foot in the pedal and the other on a chair (or hold out to the side for the ride). Spin with a higher than normal cadence. Change legs when fatigue begins to set in. Repeat for several sets switching from left to right leg. Focus on eliminating dead spots at the top/bottom of the pedal stroke. (I usually include ILT as part of another workout, such as a fat-burn/endurance workout, instead of doing them as a single workout)
Use a light resistance on the indoor trainer (Level 1/2). For one minute gradually increase your cadence to the maximum (a cadence you can maintain WITHOUT BOUNCING). Hold your maximum cadence for as long as you can. Recover for at least 3 minutes and repeat several times. Continually monitor cadence during workout. (I usually include spin-ups as part of another workout, such as a fat-burn/endurance workout, instead of doing them as a single workout)
Warm-up at Level 2/3 for at least 20 minutes. Sprint for 15 seconds while standing for the first 10 seconds then sit for the remaining 5s while maintaining a HIGH cadence. Power should be no more than Level 5. These are NOT all-out sprints. Concentrate on building leg speed. Repeat 6-10 times...making sure to rest 5 minutes between each one. (It is best NOT to combine this workout with any other.)
BTW, you can do all of these workouts outside on the road as well as on a trainer. For the ILT, instead of clipping in/out, concentrate on using one leg to do all the work while the other one is along for the ride. Also, perform the ILT (as well as the other drills) on a flat section of road. And remember, SMALL RING only.