Updated 18th November 2019

Paddy Doran Cycling blog. Turbo training for performance improvements and health benefits.

Turbo Training

Whenever I do a coaching session for a group I am usually asked what I think of turbo training. My first response is usually “life is too short”.

However I usually expand then and give the pros and cons. Generally I prefer athletes I coach to train outdoors. That’s much better than sitting on a bike alone, looking at a wall.

Turbo training in groups

Cycling turbo training

Recovering between vo2 Intervals

However turbo training in groups can be a bit more fun. As you can see from the lead Photo of the session for Irish Girls lead by Olympic Medallist Wendy Houvenagal.

And the club session photo there’s a great social dynamic.

Zwift and other online programmes

This is now another element where people can interact with other athletes and compare themselves and even compete together online.

there are some great classes around the country

I also feel that while turbo trainers can be very good for many things that too much turbo training does not produce well motivated, great cyclists.

So I have been looking at Turbo training at home and its effect on mood.

I came across a great article on the American psychological association website about research by psychologists couple, Kaplan Go green

This is the headline for the article


Psychologists’ research explains the mental and physical restoration we get from nature–and has important implications for how we build our homes, work environments and cities.”

In my opinion as well as being important for how houses and offices are built, this research also has serious implications for cyclists and triathletes. These athletes use turbo trainers or gyms for a lot of their training..

How beneficial is this? could more benefits be achieved for cyclists and triathletes?

Do you need to modify your home training environment to enhance the effects of the training.Nature and fitness

Nature and fitness

Let’s see what research in psychology tells us about the effects of activity in pleasant natural surrounding has on well being compared to some indoor or dull surroundings?

Attention types

Psychologists in this article describe two types of attention

1: Directed attention which to me sounds like sitting on a turbo trainer watching the numbers?

2: Fascination attention

“Directed attention fatigues people through overuse,” Stephen Kaplan explains. “If you can find an environment where the attention is automatic, you allow directed attention to rest. And that means an environment that’s strong on fascination.”

The Kaplans argue that using too much of the former can lead to what they call “directed attention fatigue” and the impulsivity, distractibility and irritability that accompany it. The inherent fascination of nature can help people recover from this state”.

People don’t have to head for the woods to enjoy nature’s restorative effects, the Kaplans emphasize.

View from the office

Even a glimpse of nature from a window helps. In one well-known study, for instance, Rachel Kaplan found that office workers with a view of nature liked their jobs more, enjoyed better health and reported greater life satisfaction.”

So If you must train indoors should you be at least thinking of the surroundings and what you will be looking at?

Maybe some pleasant photos or paintings of scenery, nature might even help.. See another quote from the article below.

Irish green exercise research

There’s is also great work being done in Ireland on the benefits of green exercise, This is so well  explained here by Sports Psychologist  Dr Tadgh E MacIntyre  of University of Limerick.

New Book on green and blue exercise

THeres also a new book  on this very important part of Physical Activity in natural settings Aoife A. Donnelly, Tadhg E. MacIntyre


“Even when represented with brief photographic simulations, local natural and urban comparison conditions can have differential effects, says Hartig, an avid hiker and climber who finds restoration in the Sierra Nevada range of California.

In one study, he showed people photographs of a forested area and downtown Stockholm and found that the forest slides boosted people’s mood”

Mental health fitness

As well as physical effects from training, cyclist and triathletes should also be looking for mental fitness and strength to be addressed..

This research might also have implications for cyclists and triathletes who have mental health issues. The home training environment should be assessed if the turbo trainer is used frequently to create a positive effect on mood.

THe cycling environment is important for mood state.

Stick a few flowers or picture on it

If weekend winter weather is sometimes too poor to get out on the bike. Might it be better to wrap up and go for a jog than spend a couple of hours indoor on a turbo trainer looking at a wall.

Time to think about going green !!

American Psychological Association article Green is good      

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