Using a stationary bicycle has a lot of benefits. You avoid bad weather, you can exercise without having to get your bike out of the garage, and you can start and stop whenever you want.
However, sometimes you miss being out on the open road, right?
Well, you could simulate that outdoor feeling and add some excitement to your workout with cycling apps. These programs enable you to have virtual races, tour the world and monitor your workout progress.
But which is the indoor cycling app should you choose? I have put together this article to share my favorite cycling apps.
What do you need to get started?
Before we discuss the apps themselves, getting ready to use them needs a little setup and some essential equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to get started;
- A smartphone, tablet or PC.
- A mountain bike, racing bike or spinning bike.
- A smart trainer or a bike stand for your outdoor bike, plus speed sensor.
- An optional tablet holder.
Setting up the app for its first use depends on the app itself. However, most of the apps are installed in just a few minutes. Once the initial setup has been completed, future use usually only requires you to switch the equipment ‘on’.
3 Of My Favorite Indoor Cycling Apps
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise is an excellent way of improving mood and alleviating depression. The apps below will take that one step further by making your indoor cycling even more enjoyable.
If you like video games, you’ll love this app. It’s genuinely my personal favorite.
As with ‘The Sufferfest’ below, this app allows you to jump right into a virtual race. You can select a workout from many courses, races, and trials around the world, all displayed on your screen.
The images shown aren’t from actual “real-life” video, but computer generated. Ok, it’s not the same as using your Alienware laptop, but the graphics rendering is pretty impressive.
This aspect adds a lot of fun. Your workout won’t feel like a boring routine; it will feel more like a gaming session, while getting fit at the same time.
The app connects to your heart monitor and bike trainer, to create a virtual “you” on the screen. You are then able to race against others around the world or just have a relaxed cycling workout with friends through the app.
Your avatar is highly customizable, allowing you to select aspects such as skin tone, jerseys, and boots. Like a traditional game, as your fitness increases, features such as new clothing are “unlocked.”
Friendly competitiveness and a sense of community are encouraged. While riding, you can chat with other riders through your device. You can choose to either support or discourage them. If you love gaming online with friends, this is the closest you will come in a cycling app.
Zwift is available for iOS, Android, PC, and Mac.
If you want to see Zwift in action, here’s a short video:
#2. The Sufferfest
Similar to Zwift, The Sufferfest allows you to join in races which are displayed on your screen. But, the difference is the way of presenting the track.
Whereas Zwift uses computer graphics, the Sufferfest uses footage from real road races, including the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. It also includes some of the most famous courses in the world. So, if you want the real deal, this could be for you.
It’s also an app which combines humor with racing. Just take a look at the logo and you’ll probably get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Gunshots, vocal coaching, and accelerating engines give you a warning of changes in pace or terrain.
Connecting your heart monitor and smart meter allows your progress to be continuously displayed on the screen.
The Sufferfest is probably more of a dedicated workout app than Zwift. It includes over 30 pre-programmed training programs, which concentrate on speed, power, and stamina.
A nice element is the ability to adjust the intensity during your workout. This is an improvement compared to many apps that “tie” you to a particular level of intensity, with no option to change without dropping out of the session entirely.
A simple up and down button enables you to either increase or decrease the intensity at any stage of the workout. Furthermore, there are twenty yoga programs specifically designed for the active cyclist. These can be downloaded for future use or streamed.
The Sufferfest is available on iPhone, PC, and Mac. There’s currently no Android version of the app.
If you aren’t too concerned with “virtual” racing but want to get the most out of your cycling sessions, this could be the app for you.
The TrainerRoad has some videos, but they are not the main focus of this app. TrainerRoad is mainly focused on targeted workouts, which fall into three main categories. It focuses on:
The app includes over 1000 workouts programs, which is more than any other cycling app that I am aware of at the moment.
The interface is simple and easy to both use and read. Oversized numbers and “blocks,” charting progress, make it easy-to-read, even on smaller screens.
Another nice feature is its adaptability. When used on a computer or tablet, it has a useful split screen option. In landscape mode, this allows you to have your cycling information at the bottom of the screen while watching a movie on the upper part of your screen.
As it concentrates more on information than virtual imaging, this could be a good choice for anyone wanting to use their smartphone rather than a tablet or computer.
TrainerRoad is available on iPhone, Android, PC, and Mac.
For me, cycling apps are a valuable addition to my indoor cycling session. Not only do they increase the feeling of actually being on the road, but they also make indoor cycling much more fun.
My favorite cycling app is Zwift. The impressive graphics and ability to compete with others makes it a lot of fun.
If you don’t like Zwift, here are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing an indoor cycling app:
- Do you want to race against others, or are you perfectly fine with cycling on your own?
- If you do want a virtual race, are graphics important?
- What device will you be using your app on?
- Do you want a large variety of workouts and training programs?
Whatever you choose, I’m sure one of my top three will meet your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!