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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 03-06-10, 12:25 PM   #1
Courfeyrac
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Question about bike trainers and food

Hello, everyone. I started riding about a year ago, and rode for 3 months before getting clipped from behind by a pickup truck. I am still dealing with shoulder problems, but I really want to get back into cycling.

At the time of the accident, I was riding about 90-120 miles a week at an average of 15 mph (2 hour rides). I started out at 210 lbs and was about 172-174 lbs when I was hit (I went from an extra-large jersey to a small). I got my trainer stand back then, but I got bored easy with it, and it never seemed to be as effective as riding on the road, so I shelved it. Now, due to my school schedule and the fact that I still need a new helmet (), I will be riding primarily indoors until the summer break.

Currently, I am 20 pounds heavier than before the accident, and I want to get back into shape. I have done about 7 hours on the trainer this week, at 15 mph average (theoretically equivalent to 110 "miles"). I used to eat a ton of food last year after my 30 mile rides (healthy food, not pizza or burgers/fries, etc.) and still lost weight. This time around, I am trying to eat enough food to keep my energy level up for repeated trainer rides. If I don't eat a lot of food, I feel light-headed, but I'm afraid that if I eat as much as I did before, that I will cancel out anything I'm burning off.

My question is this: if I ride the same length of time at the same average speed (minus the wind I had to fight all the time out here), should I still eat a similar amount of food? Am I burning as many calories as I did on the road, given that I am riding at a higher sustained cadence without stopping, coasting, or gearing down to go through wind? Thanks.
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Old 03-06-10, 07:39 PM   #2
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The problem with your question is that trainers vary a lot in their resistance, and many trainers have variable resistance. So the speed on the trainer is a non-applicable quantity. You want to know wattage, but of course you don't have a $2000 power meter. The answer is that if you rode the same length of time at the same average wattage as on the road, you'd burn the same or similar amount of calories. The problem, you see, is determining the average wattage. Lacking any measure of that, you'll have to fall back on your Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). If your RPE is about the same, your burn should be about the same per unit time. Many people think that time-wise, you only have to do 75% on the trainer of what you'd do on the road. But I don't think that works out for calories burned.
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Old 03-06-10, 08:34 PM   #3
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RPE may not be a great measurement. I have a power meter and doing the same workout indoors seems much harder.

You could try tracking your calories and ride time for 1-2 weeks and seeing what happens to your weight.
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Old 03-07-10, 12:45 AM   #4
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Alot will have to do with the intensity & pace you set & how vigorous you perform on the trainer Vs the road.

IMO, An indoor trainer can in no way substitute for riding on the road, right across the board, including calories burned, Higher HR etc.

Usually, I would have to train longer on the trainer to burn as many calories.
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Old 03-07-10, 01:20 AM   #5
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IMO, An indoor trainer can in no way substitute for riding on the road, right across the board, including calories burned, Higher HR etc.
Fail
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Old 03-07-10, 01:36 AM   #6
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Fail
That is what I personally experienced. Maybe not so for everyone else.

Alot will depend on how vigorous you perform the activity.
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Old 03-07-10, 01:44 AM   #7
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That is what I personally experienced. Maybe not so for everyone else.

Alot will depend on how vigorous you perform the activity.
The same effort will burn the same amount of calories on both the trainer and the road. The perception of that effort will likely be different, but it's mostly a cooling and motivational issue.

It means you're not training hard enough.
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Old 03-07-10, 12:06 PM   #8
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The same effort will burn the same amount of calories on both the trainer and the road. The perception of that effort will likely be different, but it's mostly a cooling and motivational issue.
+1. A heart-rate monitor is a cheap way to ensure you're training in the appropriate range on your trainer. It can also keep you honest out on the road on days when you should be recovering.
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Old 03-08-10, 10:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. I've backed off my training due to shoulder strain (I can't stand sitting upright on that saddle for extended periods of time, especially after so many months off), but it seemed to be helping, even if I wasn't burning as many calories as I thought it would. At the very least, it would help with endurance and overall cardiovascular fitness. I'm considering getting a recumbent of some sort if my shoulder doesn't get better by the time I have to settle.
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Old 03-09-10, 10:27 PM   #10
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Ive asked the same question on the road racing forum, for a more "need to be at home for family reasons" purpose. I have a fluid trainer for warming up at races and doing some maintenance work during really bad weather but I have never used it for real training either.
So, yeah, I'm asking the same question.
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