Spinervals vs. CTS

Winter training is here for those of us not tough enough to ride at night outside.  A few years ago I came across some Spinerval training videos and ever since I’ve found indoor training a little less unbearable.

I recently ran across a CTS, Carmichael Training Systems, video called “Cycling for Power” and gave it a try along with my old stand by Spinervals, I found the two surprisingly similar. but with a few differences so I thought I’d give you a little run down on them.   Now I don’t want to misrepresent myself so let me give you this disclaimer.  I’ve done about 4 different Spinervals videos, and I’ve only done one CTS video.  That being said I’d bet that they’re all about the same.

So essentially Spinervals, CTS and pretty much any other cycling workout video you can find leads you on a series of intervals.  Truth be told you could honestly replace the video with a stop watch, but the video is a big help in the motivation department.  What sets the different videos apart is there personality.

Every Spinervals is led by Coach Troy Jacobson, he is high energy and a major motivator.  Coach Troy gives you directions on gearing, effort, whether to stand or sit, and what kind of Cadence you should be keeping.  He has a group of cyclists on his set and moves about keeping them diligently following his directions.  Music wise you get some electronic background music that matches the pace.

The CTS video was led by some guy, I can’t remember his name, but it was’t Chris Carmichael.  He had a small, but sharp, well lit  stage with a group cyclists all dressed in matching CTS kits.  There is a nice information graphic and soundtrack with poppy sounding tunes.

While Coach Troy feels authentic in his motivation, advice and encouragement, the CTS coach seemed like he was reading a script, he kept repeating the same boring phrases with no passion or energy. The riders in a Spinerval video seem authentic, like real people just doing a workout and when Coach Troy interacts with his riders it feels natural.  When the CTS coach interacted with his riders it seemed like he lacked confidence in what he was saying.

The Spinervals sets I’ve seen are workout rooms, or outdoors, they don’t look like a real production set and aren’t always very well lit, where the CTS set was bright and very nice, though the riders were all squished together.  I found I liked some of the songs on the CTS video but found some very annoying.  The music on Spinervals is not distinct, just repetitive background music, but it works.

You can probably glean my opinion, the Spinervals videos feel more authentic and natural.  The CTS video felt kind of stuffy but had very nice production values.  The CTS video may have been a little easier and geared to a more general cycling audience, while the Spinervals videos are intended more for athletes.

In general I prefer the Spinervals video, Coach Troy’s confidence, and high energy motivation make this no contest, but I could see how he might get annoying.  If you want a more low key workout you might prefer the CTS videos.  Either way having something guiding your workout and motivating you to give 100% is the best way to get the most from indoor training.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Reviews, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Spinervals vs. CTS

  1. I’ve tried the Virtual Reality Cycling DVD by Coach Troy. I’ve got the Lake Placid Training Ride which is Volume 2 in his On the Road Series.

    I don’t like spinning. I would rather be outside than on a trainer.

    I can tolerate this format of DVD. It is basically a camera man following Troy along a 56 mile ride around Lake Placid NY. I like the scenery. I’ve been to Lake Placid and this DVD is as close to being there as you can get. The DVD is rated 9.0 difficulty – too hard for me. But that’s Ok because I just pedal to the effort I want and enjoy the scenery and Troy’s motivating comments.

  2. I sit and diligently watch any new workout video a day prior to actually starting the workouts. I’ve been doing the aero base builder 16.0 indoors for the last week or so. Today, I was watching the CTS Time Trial video thinking I’d try this workout tomorrow – It was as exciting as watching paint dry.

    I think I’ll stick with Coach Troy. Lance and Allison can have Coach Carmichael.

  3. Clark Shaffer says:

    Post is a little old so I’m not sure if anyone is still following it. I have several of the Spinerval CDs and have found benefit out of them all. I’ve been working with a coach for about 2 years and primarily use the videos for recovery and some endurance work. They give great structure and, for the most part, hold your attention which is critical when working indoors for more than an hour. The display of what gearing to be in is helpful and his prompting regarding HR zones help you keep your effort consistent and not go “red line” when you’re not suppose to. I have yet to finish up one of the dvd’s and not get off the bike feeling like I’ve had a good training session.

    • Matt Gholson says:

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ve been doing nothing but Sufferfest videos lately, after them even Spinervals isn’t as interesting.

      • Clark Shaffer says:

        I haven’t checked out any of the Sufferfest videos though they have been recommended. From what I see most of them are intense workouts and not geared for recovery or steady endurance efforts. The team I ride with here in Austin can provide enough suffering during our weekday and Saturday team rides that I don’t need a video to provide more of the same. I’ll check em out again to see if I overlooked any. Overall it seems regardless of which series is used, they all provide benefits. The difference is the intensity and dedication a person puts into the effort.

  4. Matt Gholson says:

    Nope none of the Sufferfest videos are recovery, they are all intense. One of my favorite is Angels which could be used as 3×8 tempo intervals if you avoid some of the attacks.

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