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Indoor Trainer Apps

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

Yes, we would all rather ride outside. But when weather, work and pandemics rules that out, riding inside can leave you fitter and faster.


What’s more, smart trainers and training apps have made indoor cycling more realistic and effective than ever.

Here are my favourite indoor cycling apps.


While most indoor cycling apps serve a similar purpose – to make indoor training more enjoyable and effective – they can broadly be split into a few categories depending on what you want from the experience, including intervals, racing and interactive tourism.


Some apps, such as TrainerRoad are straight-up training tools - think personalised workout classes based on power output with a specific training goal in mind.


Others use on-bike video from around the world, with your pedal power driving the scenic view – and, if you have a smart trainer, the route driving the resistance.

And then there is Zwift where you can do interactive rides and races on gamified virtual courses.


Zwift didn’t invent virtual riding, Nor did Zwift invent power-based interval training. TrainerRoad had the early lead there.

But what Zwift has done is absolutely crush it on the social interaction and stylised graphic elements of a video game.


With group rides and races going on almost constantly, it’s easy to jump in with a group for an easy spin or an all-out slugfest. You can also ride on your own, of course, or tackle one of Zwift’s many training plans and workouts.


The racing aspect of Zwift has also taken off, with categorised races to join based on your power-to-weight ratio if you want to stoke that competitive fire.

Besides working together with (or attacking) your fellow Zwifters from around the globe, you can also chat with them as you ride through the app’s virtual worlds, which include the fictional Watopia and routes inspired by real-world courses like Prudential RideLondon, the 2015 UCI World Championships in Virginia and the 2018 UCI Road World Championships course in Innsbruck-Tirol,

Zwift also has an Apple TV app, and you can connect your smart trainer or power meter via Bluetooth. This setup offers one of the most cost-friendly ways to get into indoor training apps.


  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV

  • Cost: £12.99 per month

  • Free trial period: 7 days

  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth

  • Primary features: Solo and social riding, virtual racing, training and structured workouts


Trainer Road Is streamlined fitness on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. You can drop in and do workouts a la carte, subscribe to a training plan tailored to your target event, or, if you’re already plugged into a plan on TrainingPeaks or Today’s Plan, it will import those workouts and keep you right on track.

The interface is clean and simple: just follow the targets for power (and sometimes cadence) for the prescribed duration. The bar graphs show what is coming up, and the text explains the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.

No fluff, just fitness.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS

  • Cost: £18.00 per month

  • Free trial period: 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth

  • Primary features: Laser-focus on interval training plans


Sufferfest Sufferfest started with pro-race videos, back before apps were a thing.

While the basic science is the same – intervals make you faster; do them – the execution is more playful.

Video mix-ups splice in attacks from races with leisurely scenic footage, and revving engines and gunshots alert you to changes in pace.

As with TrainerRoad Rouvy and Zwift, it’s all about measuring and improving power output over various durations.

In addition to the videos, The Sufferfest also offers downloadable training plans, mental training and even some guided yoga and strength training sessions too.

  • Platform: iOS, Windows, macOS

  • Cost: $14.99 per month or $129 annually

  • Free trial period: 14 days

  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth

  • Primary features: Workouts and training plans, humour

  • Website: thesufferfest.com

RouvyAR

Rouvy is the indoor cycling app that offers a range of real life routes and augmented reality courses for you to ride on.

Unlike other apps simulate virtual worlds and roads, Rouvy uses video recordings of real roads and combines them with elevation data.

On certain courses the app can also generate animated 3D riders. There are 60 of these AR augmented reality courses and, as well as an avatar of yourself, the animated riders can either be virtual partners of your previous records, ghosts for you to race against or other real life Rouvy users.

Beyond augmented reality courses, there are thousands of different route films available, which apparently total around a staggering 2,036,020km worth of roads (at the time of writing) – so it’s safe to say there’s plenty of variety.

Aside from simply riding courses, Rouvy also hosts races (for both amateurs and pro teams) has a library of 4,000 structured workouts and even the chance to win cash and other real life prizes for completing in-game challenges.


How does Rouvy differ to other indoor cycling apps?


While Zwift has built its own virtual worlds, some completely made up from scratch and some based on real life places, Rouvy sets itself apart by using video footage of the actual roads it simulates and by having a massive library of routes to choose from.

If your goal is to train specifically on real life roads, perhaps for a future sportive or gran fondo (or just for the thrill of riding some of the sport’s most legendary roads), then Rouvy offers a real advantage.

In terms of cost, Rouvy is also slightly cheaper than most of its competitors.

If you’re prepared to sign up for a 12-month Premium subscription you also have the option of sharing that subscription with two other family members, across up to five different devices.


As with the other indoor cycling apps, you’ll get the most immersive experience if you have access to a smart indoor bike or smart trainer.

Rouvy can control the resistance of the trainer or indoor bike to match the profile of the course or the intensity of an interval session. So, for example, if you’re riding up the Stelvio, the app can make your trainer simulate the resistance you would feel if you were actually climbing it in the real world.

It’s possible to use Rouvy without a smart trainer though. If you have a classic ‘dumb’ turbo trainer or rollers, and a power meter, Rouvy can use the data from the power meter to accurately drive you forward in the game.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a power meter you can also simply use a wheel speed sensor on your bike and Rouvy will calculate virtual power.


What courses are there on Rouvy?


There are currently 60 routes that support the augmented reality feature. These include iconic climbs from Italy and France.

Beyond augmented reality courses there are around 4,000 standard, point of view video routes to ride, with categories including the Alps, the Pyrenees and mountain bike trails.

As mentioned there’s currently a total of 2,036,020km worth of virtual roads available in the game, which is a little mind boggling.

That’s partly because Rouvy allows users to upload their own ride videos and create custom routes to add to the app’s library.

This could be useful if you have a specific race course you want to train on, for example.


As you may have guessed I am a big fan of Rouvy as I prefer its real road feel to the artificial more game like elements of Zwift.


Furthermore Rouvy offers an amazing variety of Challenges and on-line races including a complete virtual Ironman Series that make your time spent training extremely effective.


As a well known Performance Spin Instructor in London Rouvy offered me the opportunity to become an Ambassador for their product.


With this in mind if any of you want to try out Rouvy, take advantage of their free trial period. I can also offer you a 20% discount on your subscription purchase if you use the code PAUGAS20.


  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV

  • Cost: £10 per month

  • Free trial period: 14 days

  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth

  • Primary features: Solo and social riding, virtual racing, training and structured workouts

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