In principle, there should be very little difference between your nutritional strategy indoors compared to outdoors, however there are a couple of idiosyncrasies peculiar to indoor training which we will now discuss. Please make sure you read our Optimal Nutrition article from this series before you read this piece so you can fully make sense of the topic.
Shorter Session Length and Hydration: Your indoor training will generally tend to be shorter and of a higher intensity than your outdoor training and there’s nothing wrong with this – it’s really how it should be. Higher intensity training sessions are more effective if the muscles are warm and working at their preferred physiological operating temperature. In the cold winter months, not only is it often impractical to perform your high intensity training sessions outside, but it’s also sub-optimal. If the sessions are short, intense and performed in a warmer environment, perspiration rates are clearly going to be high, so consuming a liquid product whilst exercising that replaces these fluids as quickly and efficiently as possible makes sense.
The diagram above gives an indication of how human physical performance is affected by dehydration and it clearly addresses the benefits of keeping hydrated. Performance aside, also consider the impact poor hydration will have on the rest of your day – do you really want to be feeling sleepy and drinking continuously for hours after your training session simply because you didn’t stay on top of it during your workout? You’ll have heard it before, but we’ll say it again, prevention is always better than cure.
Plain water is a particularly slow hydrator and doesn’t contain any electrolytes (the salts lost through perspiration), so won’t do a very good job at all during these high intensity indoor sessions. You may have noticed when using plain water in the past during exercise – you swallow it and it sits in your stomach – and then it sits in your stomach for a bit longer – and then a bit longer. This bloating feeling means that the water isn’t draining into your small intestine where it is absorbed into the blood. Until it hits your blood, it’s not actually hydrating you, you’re just carrying it!
Another very popular hydration option are electrolyte tablets, which benefit from the inclusion of electrolytes (salts) of course, but in terms of their delivery of fluid to the blood, they really aren’t much better than water because they rely on a form of absorption through the intestine called ‘passive transport’.
Watch the very short video* above to learn how ‘some’ glucose as well as electrolytes in your hydration product will make a significant difference to its function. Essentially, glucose and sodium molecules work together as a pump to facilitate the transport of water into the blood. This is called ‘Facilitated Transport’ and with every glucose molecule (and 2 sodium molecules), 260 water molecules are pumped into the blood. At TORQ, we always look at performance with an inquisitive and critical eye and our TORQ Hydration Drink product was developed specifically to deal with the limitations associated with electrolyte tablets.
*Please note that TORQ Hydration used to be called TORQ Hypotonic. The product is exactly the same, but the name has changed.
So, for the majority of your shorter indoor training sessions, TORQ Hydration drink is the product for you, because it will deal with your hydration needs as effectively and comprehensively as possible. There are times when you might choose our isotonic TORQ Energy Drink instead of TORQ Hydration Drink however, which will be explained in the next section.
Frequency of Training and Longer Session Length: Longer training sessions, whether inside or outside tend to be lower in intensity, so maintaining hydration tends to be easier to deal with. These longer sessions however are more likely to require attention to fuelling, simply because endogenous carbohydrate storage within the liver and muscles is limited, as discussed in our Optimal Nutrition article. Although traditionally, long endurance sessions indoors on a trainer were less desirable for a whole host of reasons, times are changing and with the advent of advanced cycling simulations like Zwift, sitting on a bike for long periods of time has certainly become a lot easier to do! If the weather’s terrible and there’s a long ride in your schedule, it would make perfect sense to get it done indoors too wouldn’t it? If this is you, remember to follow the TORQ Fuelling System in the same way that you would follow it if performing a longer effort outside – the principles of fuelling are exactly the same. Use TORQ Energy Drink instead of TORQ Hydration Drink as it’s richer in energy provision whilst still maintaining strong hydration capabilities. If you’ve managed to create quite a cool indoor environment to keep perspiration rates are low, you will also need to consider using TORQ’s concentrated fuelling units like our Energy Gels, Energy Bars or Energy Chews.
The final variable to consider is the frequency of your indoor training (or training in general) and this is possibly the area that is most heavily overlooked. You must consider your entire training load when deciding which TORQ products to use. If you’ve got a high intensity indoor training session to complete lasting less than an hour, similar to the ones we’ve put together in our Indoor Training Plan document, you should easily have enough endogenous stored carbohydrate available not to need to take on board any extra fuel. Therefore, all you need to do is consume TORQ Hydration Drink to satisfy your hydration requirements – no additional fuelling required. What about if you’ve got a block of 3 high intensity training sessions planned back-to-back over 3 days? Each session when viewed in isolation will only require hydration, but consider the cumulative damage these sessions might do to your endogenous carbohydrate stores.
TORQ Hydration Drink will get you through day 1 no problem and it might get you through day 2, but you’re likely to be hitting day 3 with very depleted carbohydrate stores and the quality of that session is likely to suffer. Simply swapping out TORQ Hydration Drink for TORQ Energy Drink will make a difference in this scenario. Although not optimal hydration like a hypotonic solution, an isotonic solution like TORQ Energy Drink is still very good and it has the added bonus of being richer in energy and will therefore provide more fuel for the session, sparing your muscle glycogen, leaving you fresher for the next day. Bear in mind that even with a very good diet, it can often be impossible to put back in what you’ve taken out without considering a fuelling strategy during exercise.
On the subject of ‘feeling fresher the next day’, one further consideration is your recovery protocol immediately after exercise. We have formulated a high performance Recovery Drink at TORQ for one simple reason – the scientific research highlights that in the short period of time after exercise has finished, the body’s engine is effectively still running, so all the enzymes and hormones responsible for storing carbohydrate and delivering protein to the appropriate sites of adaptation are more active. Aim to consume TORQ Recovery Drink within 15 minutes of exercise completion and get the nutrients your body needs ingested within this valuable window of opportunity.
The video above lasts about 5 minutes, however it’s very informative and explains comprehensively why you should be thinking about your recovery and runs through the TORQ Recovery System, designed to optimise the adaptation process. Do you need to consume a recovery drink after every exercise session you do? Certainly not. Again, asses the cumulative loading of your combined training sessions and use it as a tool to get you through tougher periods. For the serious athletes amongst you, there may well be many tougher periods – in which case you’ll need this intervention more often.
In summary, if you’re training twice during the week indoors for less than an hour and you have a long ride planned for the weekend, you could simply fuel your longer weekend ride as per the TORQ Fuelling System and consume TORQ Hydration Drink for both of your midweek indoor sessions. A healthy diet containing good sources of carbohydrate surrounding these exercise sessions will replenish your endogenous stores nicely. Add another indoor session into the mix so that you’re exercising for instance Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and you may need a little more help. Try switching from TORQ Hydration Drink to TORQ Energy Drink for your weekday sessions as a starting point and consider a well-timed TORQ Recovery Drink perhaps after your Wednesday session and take it from there.
Since this article was written, the boffins at TORQ have developed this great infographic, which hopefully draws together all of the valuable points raised in this article and helps you to choose the correct hydration, fuelling and recovery products for your workouts:
This graphic is available as a PDF to view or download if you would like to see it in higher resolution, print or share. Click HERE to access it. You can scan the QR codes above with your phone to access the appropriate pages or click on these links (first link is the QR on the left and the last is the one on the right):
We hope that all of the information provided in these articles helps you to make the correct informed choices. If you would like to read the other articles in this series, click on one of the links below to learn more: