Skip to content
HC Holmberg
HC Holmberg, Adjunct Professor of Physiotherapy at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Karin Sjöberg View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Virtual training increases during the pandemic

Published: 23 March 2021

During the pandemic, interest in virtual training has increased greatly. Both elite athletes and amateurs use this form of training.
– I have written an article together with three other researchers, that was published in the journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. It has received a lot of international attention, says HC Holmberg, adjunct professor of physiotherapy at Luleå University of Technology.

The practice takes place on a bicycle, for which certain equipment is required. Above all, some form of screen is needed where the paths are displayed. You can, for example, choose to cycle through London or in exotic countryside. It is also possible to participate in races that are arranged at different times, you can also cycle or run alone.
HC Holmberg, together with three other sports researchers from Germany, Canada and England, has written an article to investigate the risks and benefits of this form of exercise.
– Virtual training has increased in connection with covid-19, not least where there has been a curfew, closed gyms and it has not been possible to travel for practice, which is common among competition cyclists. Our article is the first with a more comprehensive review, says H-C Holmberg.

Motivates for training

The purpose with the article was to identify strengths and weaknesses and future opportunities and risks with the virtual training.
– Obvious strengths are that it motivates training and competition. In addition, it is easily accessible, it can be carried out at home. You can cycle by yourself or with others, try on several different tracks in cities, in the countryside and demanding mountainroads, with different weather and wind conditions. I understand that it has become popular, I think it's fun.
Initially, the authors of the article focused on elite and other training. During the work, they saw that it is also a good form of training during rehabilitation.
– Even the top elite use this, says H-C Holmberg.

Cyber doping occurs

As for the future, researchers mainly see the benefits of this form of exercise.
– The technology is good, but will be developed even more. I am convinced that this form of exercise will survive to a large extent even after the pandemic.
With regard to risks, it is, among other things, that cyber-doping and cheating that have occurred, for example with the weight and height that the practitioner register himself.
– A work is now ongoing to prevent this. Another risk is that highly motivated users and limited knowledge in training theory mean that the training load can be too great. Those who have trained their ability in the indoor environment also need a little extra technical training outdoors to use their physical ability in performance and avoid incidents.

Digital coatching

This is an example of how technology can be helpful in sports and increase opportunities for physical activity, according to H-C Holmberg. In the future, he sees opportunities with this form of training, such as being able to try different forms of competitions and digital coaching with coaches.
– There is a lot to learn from e-sports about how to engage and motivate users with different types of rewards. For Swedish cycling, this is also a new opportunity to find talent.