A month or so ago, I was bemoaning my declining enthusiasm for training (after a few good months of winter training, by March I was missing sessions), when my racing pal Tony happened to mention an iPhone app he’d been using for turbo training, Motivo. I had a little play with the app – I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPad3 which runs the app – indeed, it is rather good run at 2x, since I don’t need reading glasses to see what’s going on!

Using Motivo has really upped my training game – here are my thoughts…

What is Motivo?
Motivo (search for it on the App Store), also at motivo.cc, is an app/website that seeks to help cyclists to set up and follow a turbo training programme.

What does it cost?
An introductory 3 week membership is free. Subsequently it’s £5.99 per month, with a slightly cheaper subscription of £29.99 for 6 months. The iPhone/iPad app is free.

What d’you get?
A varied collection of turbo training sessions, with pre-designed training programmes. The programme I tried was a three-week series of turbo sessions aimed at time triallists. You specify how many days per week you will train.

How do the sessions work?
You enter your FTP and heart rate data. The system sets up six training zones – you train according to those (either to heart rate or to power), and the iPhone app prompts you each time you shift intensity during the session (5 seconds warning, with a prompt as to what’s coming next). There’s a very clear display that shows your heart rate, power and cadence. The app records heart rate, cadence and power traces, superimposed on a diagrammatic representation of the turbo session. The screen capture below is from the Motivo App Store page.

From the top
Time remaining, pause button
Overview of session (higher block = higher intensity)
Detailed progress, with HR, cadence and power curves
Time remaining in current segment
Current HR, Power and Cadence
Slider scales showing target zones

What sensors are needed?
I’m using the Garmin heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensors, and a Powertap hub. All these are ANT+, and I needed to get a Wahoo dongle for my iPad. Other options are possible – see the help at the website. I’m simultaneously recording on my Garmin 500 for easy import into Golden Cheetah.

Is this coaching?
Not as far as I can see. You’re supposed to get emails prompting you to do the turbo sessions, and analysing your progress. But I’ve never received such emails. On the other hand, I find that riding to the Motivo iPhone/iPad app really very motivating. The calendar view highlights missed or incomplete sessions in orange.

Can you design your own turbo sessions?
Yes, you can – indeed this is a strength of the system for those of us who’ve been round the block with turbo training over the last few years.

What’s the support like?
If you have a question, they respond to enquiries within a couple of hours. In my experience.

What would be a good addition?
I think it would be neat if one could add placeholders in the calendar to show where non-training events such as races, long road rides are scheduled.

Other platforms?
Only iOS devices are supported just now (iOS 6.1 or greater).