One of the unique features of the NEO Smart trainer is that you can train in isotonic and isokinetic mode. Both modes are very useful for your training, but what is it, what are the differences and what’s in it for you? Read on to find out!

Iso what?

Isotonic and isokinetic both relate to the contraction of your muscles. When you take a look at the actual meaning of these words, which come from ancient Greek, you’ll find out what they stand for. “Iso” means “equal” and “tonic” stands for “tension”, so you get, literally, equal tension. “Kinetic”, on the other hand, means “movement”, so isokinetic stands for equal movement.

What’s the use of it?

We’ve noticed that it’s very hard to train for an even pedal stroke. You can hardly train this on your road bike or on a bike trainer with a flywheel. But because the NEO has a virtual flywheel, we were able to develop an isotonic mode for it. In this mode, you’ll learn how to use the same muscle tension under the entire range of motion of the pedal stroke. It will help you in building strength, specifically on the dead points of your pedal stroke.

It’s very hard to build power in your stroke by training at a high wattage and low cadence. On a standard bike trainer this is not possible, but on the NEO (again because of the virtual flywheel) we were able to elaborate on this. In the isokinetic mode, it’s all about maintaining the same speed during a variable resistance type of training. No matter how much strength is put on the pedals, the movement takes place at a constant speed. It is a very good high interval training without straining your muscles.

The benefits

The movement of your pedal stoke tends to be intuitive, but it’s important to develop a proper technique. Training in this mode is a great addition to your workout to practice a proper technique and to improve your performance. Furthermore, the development of muscle endurance, muscle tone and muscle strength is promoted by this training.

Isokinetic movements involve a muscle contracting and shortening at a constant speed. This training is the quickest way to increase muscle strength. One of the major benefits of isokinetic exercises is the reduced chance of injury. Because the resistance and speed of the exercise are controlled, straining the muscles is very unlikely.

How does it work?

Open the Tacx Utility app (or download here for free) and navigate to the Testing Dashboard. Here you can enable Isotonic as well as Isokinetic mode.

In the isotonic mode you can select a resistance between 0 to a 100%. The higher your percentage of resistance, the more muscle tension you need to apply to your stroke. Once you’ve selected the resistance, you’re by-passing the flywheel effect.* You’ll notice how difficult it will be to get around the dead points when your pedals are in a vertical position. In this way, you can train your pedal stroke technique. Another very interesting training is when you set the resistance on a high level. This simulates the moment when you’re very tired on a steep climb. You know that feeling: you hardly get your pedals around and you’ll have to use all your power during the whole rotation. In this mode you can specifically train on this.

* Note: this can only be done with the NEO because it has a virtual flywheel.

When you’re in the isokinetic mode in the Utility app, you’re able to set a speed limit between 16 to 30 miles per hour. The NEO trainer will not allow you to exceed the speed you’ve set during your training. Say you’ve set the speed at 16 mph. When you start your training, the NEO will hardly offer any resistance because it’s quite easy to reach this speed. However, when you try to go faster, the NEO will provide extra resistance to prevent you going faster than 16 mph. The harder you pedal, the more the NEO resists and your cadence will drop. Just like if you were climbing a hill. This is a very good heavy interval training: you can deliver as much power as you want without changing tempo and you don’t have to focus on shifting gears.

If you own a NEO, make sure you benefit from these great extra training modes!