See my previous post about the smart trainer set up I have in our small flat.

Over course of the last 6-7 months I’ve tried to use the most common smart trainer apps based on what I was seeing others using, what my clients were using and what was mentioned on online reviews.

I had been ‘using’ Trainer Road for a number of years before buying my own smart trainer. What I mean with this is that I gave my athletes who were happy to use trainer road workouts from there when training indoors. This works really well and keeps things interesting as Trainer Road has an extensive data base of workouts and a reasonably sensible way of sorting them to find suitable one for the required day and session. Their search function could be better though or hangs too easily.

I haven’t used this much but you can also create your own workouts on Trainer Road or amend existing ones to suit. As with all smart trainer apps the workout data can get pushed out to Training Peaks as well as numerous other apps such as Garmin and Strava.

What you get with Trainer Road is simple straight forward workouts. Put the smart trainer into ERG mode and all you need to do is ride – sometimes it’ll be hard, sometimes easy. For variety add some music, stand up, sit down, change cadence. Pretty old school but it does what it says on the tin. Effective and as one of my athletes put it ‘clinical’.

The one criticism I have heard and probably agree with is that there is too much of a focus on high cadence. Workout times range from 30 min to 6 hours although neither myself nor my athletes have tested anything beyond 90 min.

Sufferfest has a similar approach to Trainer Road in terms of that is workout based. The reason I mention this is that beyond these 2 apps the others all focus on creating some form of outdoor riding experience indoors.

With Sufferfest as with Trainer Road you can put it into ERG mode and it will work its way through the work with varying degrees of resistance. The text on screen will suggest when to stand or sit and what cadence to be on.

Sufferfest existed before Smart Trainers and had designed a way of overlaying workouts with video from races to create a feel that you’d be in that race, similar to the days when athletes would to a workout on a home trainer and to keep themselves motivated have the TV on with a cycling race going on.

This Sufferfest still has. For me personally it was a distraction from the workout that I was doing. I am happy to just see what was coming next. That said I can understand how that works for other as a motivator. I wasn’t always convinced that they got the overlay right with this either.

Frustrating  from my point also was that I had to run sufferfest from the laptop as the tablet app only existed for Apple and not for Android. The have in the meantime partnered with Wahoo (who I have my smart trainer from) so things may change there.

From a point of view of using it for coaching, the app can be downloaded onto laptop and the workouts seen without a need to sign up which is useful so I can use it to pass on workouts for athletes that prefer this over Trainer Road. The workout library is  quite small (compared to Trainer Road very small) but the workouts are very good and varied. Additionally they have S&C, Yoga, Mindset and some running workouts which gives it a more holistic approach.

My personal preference is Trainer Road mostly due to the huge library and simple app setup. Sufferfest has some more interesting workouts and a very testing FTP test called 4DP. There holistic approach has been a bit unique in the smart trainer area but at least Peloton definitely cover that too. And as I have said the video overlay will be a good motivator for some.

Let me know your thoughts and comments.

I’ll talk through some of the other apps soon too.