If you're like me, your indoor training is taking on a whole new meaning lately.
Staying active is really important right now, but most of us aren't fueling our indoor training right- which often means we can't finish our workouts, we become mentally exhausted too soon, and we can even impact our immune health if we're not fueling properly...
These were some of the issues I've been dealing with, so...
I spoke with our experts, including Dr. Kevin Sprouse, and we came up with the Top 5 Ways to Fuel Your Indoor Training.
I've been testing the system out for the past week and I've finally been able to finish almost all of my workouts and even did much better in a few Zwift races (psst. if you are doing indoor group events or races, see my trifecta of performance products at the bottom)
So here's what's working:
- You have to hydrate twice as much.
- Boost your mental concentration with Caffeine & Creatine
- Refuel Glycogen During and Post Workout
- Add Vitamin D to make up for the lack of sun exposure.
- Take a "Coffee & Waffle Stop" mid-workout.
Here is the complete guide on how to fuel your indoor workouts like a pro:
1. You have to hydrate twice as much as you would outside.
I'm starting my workouts with 4 full bottles for a 2-hour workout. I know it sounds crazy, but you're sweating so much more inside that you're going to need it. Because the volume of hydration is high, I'm conscious of the total number of calories- so I like to use 2 bottles of SOS hydration and 2 bottles of Skratch, Untapped or Maurten 160. Mixing it up avoids flavor fatigue and also helps mitigate calories (as SOS is only 2g of sugar per scoop).
Personal Tip: I've become a little addicted to Untapped Maple Aid Lemon Tea for indoor training. The organic black tea + amino acids add a cognitive boost that keeps me engaged while riding indoors. It's also delicious with a bit of spice and sea salt kick
2. Boost your concentration so you can finish your longer indoor workouts.
Do you ever set out on your indoor workout to do 90 minutes but then you get to 45 minutes and you're like "Well, maybe that's enough for today"?
You aren't alone! Indoor training is much harder to get the full volume of workout completed due to mental fatigue. Let's be honest, it can be a bit monotonous and the temptation to quit early is strong (the TV and Couch are Right There!)
Here is my recipe to fix this:
- Add Creatine to your daily routine. Take 1/2 scoop (2.5mg) in the morning and another 1/2 scoop (2.5mg) at night. (We don't suggest preloading for endurance athletes as it causes water retention and isn't necessary). You probably know Creatine as an energy source for intervals and sprints, but the latest research is showing benefits for regulating mood and mental focus. You have a few great choices for Creatine. I'm currently using Blonyx HMB + Creatine and love it, but before that, I was using Thorne Creatine and it is also a great product (and is NSF Safe Sport Approved)
- Take 1 to 2 HVMN Sprint Capsules 30 minutes before indoor training. These are caffeine mixed with L-Theanine and Ginseng. Much of the research on Caffeine shows that it doesn't give you more physical energy, as much as it gives you more mental energy, so you think you're less physically fatigued. This mental trick keeps you going and pushing harder for longer. The mixture with L-Theanine is key, as this gives you added focus and removes all the jitters and anxiousness that you would get with straight caffeine. I usually just use one capsule (100mg), but if you drink coffee on a regular basis, take 2 capsules.
3. Keep your gas tank topped up throughout your workout and refuel it post-workout.
Your gas tank is the glycogen stored in your muscles. The best option for fueling and refueling this is Maurten's 160 drink. Often ignored for it's bigger brother, the 320 drink, Maurten 160 is the perfect training fuel with 40g of carbs and 160 calories. I drink at least 1 every 90 minutes when training indoors. Dr. Sprouse recommends another bottle post-workout for glycogen replenishment. Right now, this is even more important as your immune function can be hurt by being glycogen depleted post-workout.
4. Replace your lost sunlight with Vitamin D.
Most Endurance Athletes already have insufficient levels of Vitamin D. Adding more indoor training is only going to exacerbate your deficiency. Vitamin D is important for normal day to day recovery and regulating immune health. While the data doesn't support more is better, you definitely don't want to be deficient. I'm taking Thorne Vitamin D-5000 right now.
5. Get double the volume with a Coffee & Waffle Pit Stop.
We don't think twice about stopping during our outdoor workouts, why not try it inside? It's a great way to double up on your time and create a small reward to keep you committed to the full workout. After a pit stop break, you'll feel much stronger. When you're training inside, you're in a more static position or stride than when you're outside, so a break is even more important to relieve some repetitive strain. Plan a 10 min Coffee and Waffle pitstop during your long indoor workouts and notice how you're able to complete longer workouts with ease. I'd definitely suggest going with Coffee Ride for your coffee and you can pick your favorite waffle to go with it.
NEW: Are you doing indoor group workouts or races?
I have been getting lots of questions from athletes that are now participating in intense indoor group workouts and indoor races. They are wondering about fueling strategies for these types of events. Start with the recommendations above, but here is my secret Trifacta for indoor performance.
The first thing to note is that indoor events tend to start out much harder and faster than traditional events. I suspect this has to do with the mentality of certain competitors worrying less about blowing up and dropping out. Regardless of the reason you need to adapt your fueling plan for the high rapid onset and higher lactate levels of these events.
These are the Trifacta of products that are ideal for intense indoor events:
1) Sur Alt Red: Sur will help you better tolerate higher lactate levels by increasing oxygen absorption. It is a beet extract and is loved by almost all of our competitive cyclists and runners. You take 1 Sur Alt Red 30 to 45 minutes before starting your indoor event. Take 1 additional pill after the first 30 minutes of your event (or dissolve in your bottle) if your event is more than 60 minutes in length.
2) AMP Lotion: AMP Lotion is proven to help you buffer much higher levels of lactate acid. Technically it enables you to withstand with lower levels of pain a much higher amount of lactate. It is ideal for the hard, lactate producing, efforts of online events. Be sure to apply approximately 30 minutes prior to your event.
3) Beta Analine: Beta Analine is an amino acid that is needed to produce carnosine, a compound that acts as a buffer in your muscles. As you begin to work harder and increase lactic acid production, your body requires more beta-alanine to continue to produce the buffer needed to get rid of the acid so you can maintain performance. When you run out of beta-alanine, your ability to buffer lactic acid decreases, and so does your performance. You take 1 scoop of Blonyx Beta-Alanine in the AM and another in the PM (so 2 scoops per day). You do this every day (not just on days you are training) as it needs to build up and then be maintained.
My Indoor Performance Trifacta:
I'm confident that if you use the Trifacta you will see a performance boost, but let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope these training fueling tips help your indoor training!
See you on Zwift and you can follow me, just search for Matt Johnson (The Feed), I would love to ride together.