Although it is almost a guarantee that most riders would prefer to ride their bikes outside, there are indoor cycling apps that are out there that can help you get fitter and faster, when the weather or your life stops you from getting out of the house.
Even though these apps don’t exactly replicate the feeling that you’ll get when you are outside in nature, the best smart trainers and training apps have made cycling indoors a lot more realistic and effective than they have ever been in the past. So, in this article you’ll get some of the best indoor cycling apps on the market right now that are definitely worth a try.
Types of Indoor Cycling Apps
Most of the indoor cycling apps out there have the same sole purpose, which is to make your indoor cycling experience a lot more enjoyable and effective, but they can further be split into a few different categories, depending on what you may want from the experience.
You may come across some apps, such as the TrainerRoad, which are just training tools and offer you personalised workouts that will be based on your power output, with a specific training goal that you may have in mind already.
Then on the other hand you may also come across something like the Wahoo SYSTM, which is newly released and allows you to both build and follow a dedicated training plan that you can choose from a large workout catalogue. This app also has many additional features that you would have gotten from the Sufferfest, including pro race footage that you are able to train alongside.
You can also come across apps such as Rouvy, which use on-bike videos that they find from places all over the world, which use your pedal power to drive through this scenic view. Further, if you are riding on a smart trainer or a smart bike, then you’ll also receive some driving resistance based on the route that you are on.
Then lastly you have apps such as Zwift, which offer you some extremely interactive rides, workouts and racing that you can find on gamified virtual courses, which will have your speed based on the power-to-weight ratio that you are producing in real time.
In conclusion, the best cycling app for you will depend on what you are wanting to do and also what you want to achieve. So before you even start looking at the various indoor cycling apps, it’s quite important for you to first know if you are going to have more of a focus on interval sessions and personalised training plans, or if you prefer your app to incorporate your training features into a video game-like experience.
Top 3 Indoor Cycling Apps
The Zwift app was initially founded by a group of gamers who had a passion for cycling and has since gained loads of popularity and is one of the apps that have undoubtedly transformed the indoor riding experience.
Some people may think that it was Zwift that invented virtual riding, however it was apps like Bkool and Tour de Giro who were amongst the first ones to offer this online competition driven by rider output and physics-based algorithms. Even though they may not have been the first to do so, Zwift has absolutely thrived in the social interaction and graphic elements of the game.
If you choose to go with this app, you’ll experience virtual group rides and races going on basically constantly, making it very easy for you to just jump in with a random group for a quick and easy spin or an all-out hillclimb. If you don’t want to ride with a group, then you’ll also have the option to ride on your own instead or tackle one of Zwift’s many structured training plans and workout, once you’ve taken a Zwift FTP test.
Another thing that has made the Zwift app so popular is its racing aspect which has categorised Zwift races that you can join based on your power-to-weight ratio if you want to fuel your competitive nature.
You’ll also find that Zwift is quite regularly adding more gamified elements to their app in order to bring even more interactivity, such as the introduction of steering on all courses within this game, that is if you have the right equipment. Furthermore, you also have the integration of Discord, which allows you to both speak and message other riders if you so please.
So, once you’ve managed to set up Zwift and get everything sorted, you’ll be able to chat with friends as well as other cyclists that you may meet as you ride through the virtual worlds that this app has to offer. If you still want to race against someone, but don’t want to race against other people, then you can also choose to race against yourself.
Apple users out there will also be happy to know that Zwift has an Apple TV app, giving you the ability to connect your smart trainer or power metre using Bluetooth, which can definitely make setting everything up a whole lot easier.
The Wahoo SYSTM is a relatively new online training platform and has been packaged into Wahoo X as well as Wahoo RGT. The Wahoo SYSTM and Wahoo RGT both stand alone, however if you pay for the Wahoo X subscription, you’ll get access to both.
Wahoo SYSTM has a little bit of a different focus compared to apps like Zwift, as instead of going down the virtual world route, they are more focused on helping riders build and follow a specific training plan, as well as a huge library of workouts and content that you can work through.
This app is more aimed at those time-crunching cyclists, as the Wahoo SYSTM uses Wahoo’s proprietary Four Dimensional Power profile, which is a more advanced kind of FTP profile, to basically help you get more tailored training plans and workouts to your personal fitness, strengths and weaknesses.
If this doesn’t interest you so much then you also have access to an intuitive training plan builder, which basically gives you the ability to customise training plans in a way to suit your own goals and fitness levels. This won’t only take into account your indoor riding, but your outdoor riding as well, and even any sort of off-bike cross-training that you may be doing, to give you the most accurate results as possible.
You can be sure that you are getting a really great workout and training plan, as every single one has been designed but its Wahoo Sports Science Division, which was led by Neal Henderson, who is a professional coach.
The app also has classic cycling films and documentaries included in it, like A Sunday in Hell and Outskirts, that will definitely help you through some of your longer base training and recovery workouts.
If you try to start riding on a trainer indoors, aimlessly staring directly at a wall, then you’ll quickly come to realise that this is as much fun as just sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office, with nothing to entertain you. Then even further than just being boring, riding with little regard for your goals and training zones isn’t really helping your fitness at all, so if you really want to make the most of your time on the turbo, you’ll need some help.
The TrainerRoad is a little bit unique compared to the other training apps out there as it takes more of a less-is-more sort of approach to the indoor training apps. And has more of a focus on relatively short, measured interval training sessions. The goal of this specific cycling app is to make you fitter and faster, but without all of the extra bells and whistles that other apps out there are offering.
Most riders out there won’t have the discipline to actually guide themselves through workouts in their basements and others may be, but if you have some help from a coach or an app that is walking you through it and all you have to do is pedal, then it may be a lot more doable for more people.
TrainerRoad has a new adaptive training feature that basically acts as an AI coach as it tailors sessions to your current condition. So, what the software will do, once it interprets your data, is actually make your training schedule a little easier if it senses that you are fatigued, or on the other hand harder, if you’re fresher or getting stronger.
In conclusion, the TrainerRoad app is a streamlined fitness app that you can get on your mobile phone, tablet or computer, where you can simply drop in and do workouts, subscribe to a training plan that has been tailored to your target event or even if you’re already plugged into a plan on TrainingPeaks or Toady’s Plan, it’ll import those workouts for you to keep you on track.
So, there you have some of the best indoor cycling apps that you can get in 2023 that will not only make your indoor cycling experience a lot more enjoyable, but also make your training a lot more effective.