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3 Trainer Workouts To Beat the Holiday Madness

BY Lindsay Zemba Leigh

It can be hard to find the time to train once the holidays begin, but these three trainer workouts will get the job done efficiently—so you can get back to wrapping those presents.

The holidays are a busy and tiring time for us all, but it doesn’t mean your workouts need to be sacrificed. Stay focused on quality over quantity, consistency in workouts, and always remember something is better than nothing—even if it’s just 15 minutes of core work or 30 minutes on the bike trainer.

The bike trainer is ideal for time-crunched athletes since there is limited prep time, and you’re constantly pedaling on the trainer. When you are pressed for time, high-intensity intervals will give you the most bang for your buck since they help maintain your base aerobic conditioning, your power or pace at lactate threshold, and your ability to push maximal efforts.

If you have 40 minutes, you can get in a great workout by doing some upper-end work. Try the “Turkey TT,” which will mainly work your lactate threshold and have you wondering how 10 minutes can feel so long!

Turkey TT

  • 10 min warm up easy
  • 5 minutes build to hard
  • 5 minutes easy
  • 10 minute time trial – best effort for the duration.
  • Pace the 10 minute effort so that you’re able to finish strong. In the final minute, push hard and sprint the last 20 seconds.
  • 10 min cool down

Upload this structured workout directly to your compatible device:


If you have 45 min, try some “Boiling Frogs” where you gradually build your effort across 40 minutes.

Boiling Frogs

*All sets at 85-95 rpm

  • Ride 10 minutes zone 1, easy
  • Ride 10 minutes zone 2, steady
  • Ride 10 minutes zone 3, moderately hard
  • Ride 10 minues zone 4, hard
  • 5 minutes, easy spin to cool down

Upload this structured workout directly to your compatible device:


If you have an hour or more, try a “hilly” trainer ride with constant changes in position, like this “Santa’s Ride.”

Santa’s Ride

Warm Up

30 minutes, building gradually from easy/Z1 to steady/Z2, keeping cadence 90-95 rpm.

Main Set A is 3×8 minutes done as:

  • 2 minutes 90 rpm Mod-hard/Z3 effort;
  • 1 minute standing Hard/Z4 effort;
  • 2 minutes TT position, low cadence (60-70 rpm), mod-hard/Z3 effort.
  • 3 minutes Easy/Steady between reps

Main Set B is 3×20 minutes done as:

  • 15 min Big Gear (TT position, 60-70 rpm), mod-hard/Z3
  • 5 min easy spin between each.

20 min, bottom of steady/Z2, 90-95 rpm

Cool down 10 min, easy/Z1

Upload this structured workout directly to your compatible device:


You can also add some core work before or after your workout, or at intervals during your ride to break up the time.

Make it easy to hop right on your trainer without having to take the time to set it up. If you have a space, like a basement or garage, where you can leave your bike set up on the trainer—that’s ideal. A TV or radio or computer to play podcasts in front of your trainer will help pass the time.

I have a music stand set up in front of my trainer where I read magazines (Triathlete, Ultrarunning, Runner’s World, etc.) which helps pass the time and motivate me. It’s typically the only time I get to read since I have two young kids—so I look forward to my time on the trainer!

Always remember to hydrate and fuel well while training indoors. Happy Holidays!

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About Lindsay Zemba Leigh

Lindsay Zemba Leigh is a USA Triathlon and Training Peaks Level 2 coach. She’s also a certified strength and conditioning specialist and certified Nutrition Coach. She coaches triathletes and runners with No Limits Endurance Coaching (nolimitsendurance.com) and loves helping athletes achieve their big dreams. You can contact her via email at lindsay@nolimitsendurance.com.