When it comes to an indoor workout that really gets you going places, it’s time to make space (if you can) for an exercise bike. While it’s grown in popularity through the ‘spinning class’ phenomena, it’s also great for those people who either spend a lot of their time working from home or just simply do not have the time to go to the gym. As they are often in the higher price range of fitness equipment, it’s good to know exactly how to approach training on an exercise bike.

Here are some of our top tips.

The benefits of the exercise bike

  1. It's excellent for stamina and endurance. An extended training session on an exercise bike is not only great for back, arms and leg muscle strength and toning but also does wonders for building up a healthy heart.
  2. Reduces stress and develops brain function. Studies have shown time on the bike helps improve cognitive function, memory and attention. Not only that, but it’s an excellent way to release endorphins, regulate your mood and let off steam.
  3. A weight-loss wonder. Regardless of the intensity of your workout, any type of training on an exercise bike has better calorie burning qualities than going for a walk. Further to that, regular workouts on an exercise bike both reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and lowers cholesterol.
  4. Perfect for low impact training. Given it is often used during injury rehabilitation, exercise bikes are known to work the joints without shock, and will therefore mean a far more gentle workout.
  5. It’s incredibly convenient. It may sound obvious, but what other exercise can take you such great distances whilst remaining in the same spot of your living room?

Choosing the right bike

Exercise bikes come in a range of shapes and for different purposes. It’s important to know what matters to you so that you can choose a bike with the features that give you the best experience possible. It’s worth asking yourself questions such as how often you will be using the bike, the type of terrains you are looking to cycle, the coaching you want to receive, as well as your size and body type. For more information on this, check out our ‘How to choose an exercise bike?’ article on PLAY.

Finding a seat that adjusts vertically and horizontally, as well as adjustable handlebars will help you find the right sitting position on your bike, and can help remove any discomfort.

To ensure a comfortable pedalling experience, it’s advisable to opt for a heavier pedal. A lightweight pedal can often end up a pedalling feeling jerky and Aim for at least 7kg, or even 9kg for more regular intense sessions.

Whether it’s manual or digital, make sure you have an adjustable resistance setting on your chosen bike in order to keep pushing yourself on.

Not essential, but having Bluetooth capabilities on your exercise bike is a major plus, as it will enable you to take classes and tutorials online.

When it comes to the position of your exercise bike, it all depends on what you want to achieve.

Those wanting a real cardio workout should look to purchase an upright bike. With a similar shape to an indoor cycle bike, it can be used standing up or sitting and is great for your core and leg muscles.

For those with joint issues or coming back from injury, a recumbent bike. It has a reclined shape and includes full back support allowing a less intense workout.

The dual-action bike has handlebars that move back and forth and is the least like a normal bike. It is ideal for those looking for a full-body workout.

Using an Exercise Bike Fitness Plan

When looking to create your very own workout regime on an exercise bike, it’s important to know exactly what part of your fitness you are looking to improve.

For Beginners

The most important thing when starting out on an exercise bike is to take it slowly. It may feel like you’re onto a winner from the off, but gradually adding more intensity will serve you better in the long run.

Kick it off with a gentle 25-35 minute session, and give this workout a go.

  1. Pedal with low intensity - 10 minutes
  2. Switch to medium intensity - 10 minutes
  3. High intensity for 1-2 minutes
  4. Low intensity for 1-2 minutes
  5. High intensity for 1-2 minutes
  6. Low intensity for 1-2 minutes
  7. High intensity for 1-2 minutes
  8. Cool down with a slow cycle for 10 minutes

Once you become comfortable with that, add 1 minute to your workout each time.

For Weight Loss

Looking to burn calories and lose body fat? The best way to do it whilst using an exercise bike is by choosing a workout plan that quickly switches between resistance levels, such as the one below.

  1. Pedal with a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Take it up to a medium intensity for around 3-5 minutes.
  3. For the next 20 to 30 minutes, switch between a high intensity for 1-3 minutes, then back down again to a medium intensity to 3-5 minutes.
  4. After this, take it easy with a low intensity for another
  5. Cooldown by pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.

For Endurance Training

If you feel like you’re starting to develop a good level of fitness while using your exercise bike, you could start focusing on interval training to improve your speed and stamina.

Give this one a go when you feel ready.

  1. Begin with the first 10 minutes with a low intensity.
  2. Go to a medium intensity for 10 minutes, followed with switching between:
  • 2 minutes high intensity
  • 2 minutes low intensity
  • 2 minutes high intensity
  • 2 minutes low intensity
  • 2 minutes high intensity
  • high intensity for 2 minutes
  • low intensity for 2 minutes
  • high intensity for 2 minutes
  • low intensity for 2 minutes
  • high intensity for 2 minutes
  1. Finish up with 5-10 minutes of low intensity pedalling.

As you start feeling comfortable with this workout, increase the intensity of your intervals by one minute. But do it slowly!

Find classes online

Once you feel like you’re ready, take to the internet to find online classes that will push you onto that next level. There is a wide range of classes, so make you choose the right ability range.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to just go on an adventure without leaving your home, why not check out our article about the best indoor cycling videos on Youtube. Perfect for a home workout or just a little bit of escapism.

Beginners Exercise Bike Safety Tips

There are so many benefits to having an exercise bike. However, to avoid injury, it’s very important to not get carried away during a session. Here are some suggestions of how to stay safe whilst on the bike.

  1. Stretch it out. While this is the case for most new exercises, it is especially the case with intensive workouts like you’ll most likely be doing with your exercise bike. Failure to stretch can mean a great deal of post workout soreness, which can lead to a lack of motivation to return to the bike seat. If you do forget to stretch beforehand (make sure you remember next time!) drink a cup of water with lemon juice after you’ve finished exercising. It’ll help with the aches and pains.
  2. Make sure your bike is properly set up. One of the most common mistakes made when starting out on an exercise bike is that they either put the handlebar or seats too high or too low. This will make the workout far less effective and you’ll run the risk of injuring yourself. Before you start your workout, stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so it is at hip height. Then, push your seat back so you can fit your elbow to the tip of your hand in between the seat and the handlebars. Finally, you should make sure the leg closest to the floor isn’t locked out or too bent. If it is, adjust your seat accordingly. You’ll be then ready to go!
  3. Keeping in good shape is vital. Apart from the obvious pitfall of falling off your exercise bike due to lack of balance, holding a good position throughout your workout is a must when it comes to avoiding injury. Muscle fatigue and injury can also both be caused by poor cycling form. If this is something you feel you start to struggle with, find out from a personal trainer or look up online the correct positioning.
  4. Don’t overdo it. We are all ambitious when it comes to new fitness goals, but it’s important to be realistic. Over time these targets can be achieved, but it's important to take your time and build up slowly. It’s been proven that working in intervals when using an exercise bike can actually have more benefits than a long slog. Once you’re ready, being able to go hard for shorter periods of time is a far better way forward.
  5. Take breaks. Again, it's better to do a little more than overly long sessions.

Happy cycling!