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Structured workout on a smart stationary bike

With the advent of smart direct drive trainers and an open resistance control protocol, cycling has moved to a whole new level. Currently, there are a number of online services (Zwift, BKOOL, Takh) that allow not only spinning a bike station, but also watching the ride in a virtual area on a computer or tablet screen in real time.

Training on a bicycle machine can be either free, when the athlete himself controls the mode of work and resistance, or programmatically controlled according to a predetermined algorithm. The TrainingPeaks service supports structured workouts with the ability to control resistance from Garmin devices, as well as through third-party applications.

Types of exercise bikes

Modern exercise bikes are divided into three main types:

  • Rollerballs. The simplest exercise bikes, well suited for balance training on a bicycle, but requiring constant control over balance
  • Stationary. Freestanding exercise bikes that resemble real bicycles in their geometry, with appropriate adjustments. From the simplest to the most complex devices with built-in power sensors
  • Under the rear wheel. Securely fixing the bike with the pressure of the rear wheel roller or with its replacement

For the implementation of the Physiological Avatar technology in applications, we are most interested in the support of exercise bikes under the rear wheel with adjustable mechanical or electronic resistance. Data exchange between the smart trainer and devices (computer, sports watch, tablet, etc.) is carried out via USB, Bluetooth, ANT + protocols. The most interesting for us are simulators with Bluetooth protocol, which is supported by non-specialized devices.

Types of workouts on the simulator

Depending on the plan of the training task, stationary bike workouts can be classified into three main types:

  • Resistance. A training mode in which a preset resistance force in watts is set automatically or arbitrarily by buttons from the control device. If you need to increase or decrease it, this can be done through a control device, or by changing gears.
  • ERG (Ergo). In this mode, the treadmill automatically maintains the resistance force set by the program, regardless of cadence (cadence) or gear ratio. On any switch or change in cadence, the power resistance will be automatically changed to the set value in watts. This mode is the most preferable for training, as it forces you to strictly follow the training program, not allowing you to "overextend" in warm-up and recovery or underwork at intervals.
  • structured workout . A structured workout allows you to programmatically set a set of intervals that a task consists of. The task must be downloaded to a sports watch or cycling computer and the recommendations of the device must be followed.

For the implementation of the Physiological Avatar technology in applications, we are most interested in supporting structured training and training in Ergo mode. Preparing the training load structure is most preferable using a third-party online service such as TrainingPeaks.

Implementation of an Online Exercise Bike Workout

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Support for online structured workout on a smart stationary bike is implemented in all client software applications of the Coaching Toolkit line. The applications provide the following features:

  • The training impulse (TRIMP) received by the athlete during training on a smart stationary bike with a previously prepared load distribution plan is calculated
  • The training load is planned (structured) in advance and entered into the application and the cycling computer as a training task before starting the exercise. A third party online service can be used to structure the workout, for example TreaningPeaks
  • Online initial data are entered into the system from wireless heart rate and cadence sensors. The sensors connect to the app's gadget via Bluetooth. Implemented a software multiplexer for emulating multichannel input from several Bluetooth LE sensors
  • The calculated TRIMP value is saved in the training load log and is used for the current optimal planning of the training process.

If the smart trainer uses Garmin devices with structured training support, then getting a structured workout into the device is very simple: you just need to link the synchronization between TrainingPeaks and Garmin Connect once.

The use of structured training technology in software applications of the Physiological Avatar (PhA) technology implies the joint parallel use of one structured training profile in the control device of a smart simulator and in a gadget running the PhA software application. To do this, it is necessary to ensure that the training profile file is downloaded to the control device and to the gadget with the PhA application.

The proposed video demonstrates the implementation in the PhA software application of training on a smart exercise bike online in Ergo mode.

● Selecting the target athlete
● Selecting a base current physiological avatar
● Select workout mode -> Ergo
● Enter training exercise duration -> 300 s (5 min)
● Heart rate sensor selection -> software simulation of the heart rate sensor
● Cadence sensor selection -> cadence sensor software emulator
● Starting the training process
● Online control and analysis of physiological parameters during training
● Online control and analysis of biomechanical parameters during training
● End of the process by duration (5 min) and recording the calculated training impulse in the training load log

Importing structured workouts from TrainingPeaks into our apps

Most apps like Zwift, BKOOL, Sufferfest, etc. support automatic syncing with TrainingPeaks, including uploading and structured workouts. To do this, you need to configure the connection in the settings.

To upload a structured workout prepared using the TrainingPeaks service to the Physiological Avatar technology software applications, we have chosen the CSV exchange file format.

Learn more about TrainingPeaks exchange files

Here is an example of a compatible formatted .csv file from CycleOps. This file was used as input for demonstration purposes in our software applications.

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