Are you a budding cyclist?
Or, are you a seasoned cyclist wanting to become fit in the comfort of your home?
Whatever your preferences are, an indoor cycling workout plan is your ticket to enhanced stamina and endurance. With indoor cycling, you don’t need to worry about the never-ending traffic, bad weather or looking out for hurdles. By focusing all your energy on your bike, you can gain the fitness you need to ace the upcoming championship.
Can You Lose Weight By Cycling Indoors?
Indoor cycling can work wonders for weight loss. Some people hesitate to shift to indoor cycling, thinking they may get thicker legs. But, in reality cycling is a fun cardio exercise that melts away fat in the legs and sheds calories.
You can get muscular and toned legs by following an indoor cycling workout plan. When talking about calories, the calories burned from cycling vary from individual to individual. On average, an individual weighing 80kg may burn around 560 calories in a 45-minute indoor cycling workout plan for weight loss. The same individual may burn about 750 calories in a 60-minute indoor cycling workout (6).
Imagine the number of calories they may burn cycling for five days. Although you may be hyped up to start cycling this instant, it is important to consider certain tips to maximize your workout.
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Eat Before You Bike
While you may be all about cycling on an empty stomach, fueling your body for exercise to sustain the workout and not get tired easily is smarter. Ideally, you should eat lightly 30 minutes before your 1 hour indoor cycling workout (3).
Similarly, you should replenish your glycogen stores and fuel your muscles for recovery after intense indoor cycling sessions (7).
Increase Your Pace
The best indoor cycling workouts are where you alternate between different paces, meaning you pedal against hard resistance for a few minutes, then shift to a slower, more comfortable pace. This alternating pace boosts your metabolism and sheds more calories than biking at a steady, moderate pace.
In addition it also stimulates the after-burn effect, where your body keeps using oxygen post-workout, helping you burn calories while resting (1).
How Long Should You Exercise On a Stationary Bike?
This common question hits us as soon as we read about indoor cycling. For starters, you must remember that the US government recommends getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity, roughly 20 minutes a day (4).
But, since the goal is to lose weight, you must double this duration. Try doing at least 30 minutes of indoor cycling daily if you are a beginner. You can divide this time by biking for 15 minutes in the morning and the rest in the evening. As you gain stamina and get used to biking, increase the duration to 40-60 minutes daily to reap rewards.
What Are the Benefits of Indoor Cycling?
Indoor cycling has become quite popular among the millennials. Finding time to bike outside or hit the gym becomes increasingly difficult as people get busier. Hence, workouts that can be done at home are gaining momentum. Let’s explore the essential health benefits of indoor cycling:
The biggest benefit of indoor cycling is weight loss. Many people opt for cycling as a part of their cardio routine and lose weight in the process. As mentioned above, an individual weighing 80kg may burn around 560 calories in a 45-minute indoor cycling workout plan for weight loss (2).
Your excitement about losing weight while biking comes from your brain producing neurotransmitters, endorphins, and your other feel-good hormones. Your body’s stress levels may decline as you exercise regularly (10).
This, in turn, might improve your mood and make you feel happy and contented throughout the day.
Improves Your Cardiovascular Health
Indoor cycling pumps your heart and makes you breathe faster, helping you inhale more oxygen (2). This way, your lungs and heart can also improve over time. After biking, your blood pressure lowers, and you may feel more energetic.
Besides burning calories, you can also train your legs. Constant pedaling works out the quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. As a result, you may find it easier to hop around and get up faster in addition to having sculpted legs.
Less Strain on the Joints
One of the biggest advantages of indoor cycling is that these low-intensity workouts are perfect for individuals with joint pain and those recovering from surgeries. The smooth cycling motion improves muscles around your joints, helping them recover faster (10).
Lastly, you don’t have to deal with the uncertain weather or terrain outdoors. You can adjust the resistance and pace level to work out as long as you like in the comfort of your home without any disturbance, making your indoor cycling workout plan a win-win.
What Are the Disadvantages Of a Stationary Bike?
Even though indoor cycling has significant benefits, it also has some downsides you must consider before getting a new bike (9):
Stationary Bikes are Expensive
The biggest downside to indoor cycling is that the bikes come at a hefty price tag. The added technology increases the price. It would be best if you considered your priorities before purchasing one.
You should invest in a stationary bike to lose weight and improve your stamina. That said, a stationary bike may not help if you aim to get a sculpted body and perform strength training.
Indoor Cycling Can be Repetitive
Another issue with indoor cycling is that there is no variety. You are riding on the same bike at the same time and place. Although you vary your pace, you are still stuck at the same spot, riding monotonously. Knowing this, you need to find some entertainment to keep you hooked.
The good news is that you can make indoor cycling fun by placing your bike near a window or TV to keep yourself entertained throughout your session. Create an upbeat exercise playlist and cycle to the beat.
Also, you can join an online spinning class and coordinate your workouts with them. If a spinning class is nearby, you could join group classes and feel connected with others. If riding solo sounds too boring, invite a friend.
Bikes Do Not Offer a Full-body Workout
If you want to up your leg game, you are definitely in for a treat. Indoor bikes are good for exercising your lower body but offer no benefits to the upper body. Other equipment will be needed to work out your upper body.
Indoor Biking Isn’t Good for Pro Cyclists
If you are a cyclist, you need to consider this. Given that cyclists lean forward while biking in cycling, indoor biking may affect your back since you are sitting upright. If you are a cyclist, you must shift your body forward or change your position during the workout to prevent back pain.
There’s No Thrill of the Outdoors
Unlike outdoor biking, where you breathe in fresh air and navigate the ever-changing terrain and weather, there’s no variety in indoor biking. You’re stuck in the same spot without witnessing the changing landscapes and climate. It gets boring after a while.
Indoor Bikes Take Up Space
Well, indoor bikes are huge, and they take up ample space. Only get one if you have room, which means an indoor cycle may not be feasible if you have a limited area. Also, some bikes require assembly, further hampering your motivation.
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What Are the Different Types Of Indoor Cycling Workouts?
The indoor cycling workout plan is divided into four categories, helping you increase your stamina, endurance, and power. These are (5):
Beat Based Structure
A beat-based structure is an indoor cycling workout where you pedal to the beat of the music. The music is specially selected with ample beats to match the cycling workout. These are usually done in spinning classes, but you can do this exercise solo.
Fast-paced music is good for pedaling at a lower resistance, whereas slow music is ideal for pedaling at a higher resistance. You should select music with beats ranging from 120-80.
An RPM structure is where you pedal according to the RPM you select as per your goals. For instance, if you choose RPM between 60-80, it is ideal for hill climbs, whereas an RPM between 120-150 is ideal for fast pedaling.
Watts Based Structure
A Watts-based structure is a high-intensity indoor cycling workout where you pedal according to your selected watts. You may opt to increase resistance by 10 watts or vice versa.
Heart Rate Training
In heart rate training, you work out based on your heart rate. The riders typically wear a heart-rate measuring monitor strapped to their chests, which measures their heart rate during the session. They can accurately adjust the intensity level based on their maximum heart rate percentage.
Intermediate Interval Training
This 25-minute indoor cycling workout is performed both while seated and standing. Once you get used to seated cycling workouts, you may advance to harder routines like this one:
Warm up for 5 minutes and cycle at a low-intensity pace for 10 minutes, alternating between cycling seated to cycling while standing. Switch to a higher rate and pedal for 15 seconds. Do this for five sets. Rest by pedaling at a low speed for 2 minutes.
Stand and pedal at alternating high and low-intensity paces, followed by a minute of medium-pace cycling. Finish the workout by pedaling at a minimum rate for 5 minutes.
What Is the Best Indoor Cycling Workout Plan for Beginners?
If you are new to indoor cycling, you should take care of certain things. First, your legs may not be used to the resistance or may lack stamina. Therefore, you need to start slow and gradually increase your pace.
The most crucial factor here is to consider your perceived exertion (RPE) rate on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the easiest and ten is the hardest. RPE translates to how hard it feels for you to work at your chosen resistance level.
Key point, you should invest in biking shoes and padded shorts to minimize the pain.
You must do the following free indoor cycling workouts for at least three days a week with a rest day in between. You may pause during your workout to stretch your legs.
If you are a beginner, here’s what you need to do daily (8):
- Warm up for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace at a low resistance. Afterward, increase the resistance to a maximum of three until you feel slightly working harder than the warm up pace. It would be best to carry out a normal conversation without breathing heavily. Do this for about 3 minutes.
- Increase your resistance until you work harder than your baseline pace. Do this for 2 minutes. Now, decrease your resistance till you reach your baseline level. Do this for 3 minutes.
- Again, increase your resistance slightly higher than your baseline pace. Do this for 2 minutes. Decrease your resistance as low as your warmup pace to cool down for 5 minutes. Do this workout at least three times a week.
- Do this 20-minute indoor cycling workout for a week, and if this gets easier, add another 5 minutes (with 3 minutes of baseline pace and 2 minutes of a harder rate). You can do this increment for a week. Then, add 5 minutes until your workout becomes a 30-minute indoor cycling workout.
Considering that you will be doing a 30-minute workout daily, this is the minimum exercise you must do daily, according to the US government health guidelines mentioned above. You can add variations and different exercise routines to build a strong body.
Indoor Cycling for Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight rapidly, do the following indoor cycling workout plan (2).
- Warm up for 5 minutes. Start pedaling at a low intensity for about 5-10 minutes. Switch to a slightly higher pace or medium intensity for about 3-5 minutes. For the next 20 minutes, alternate between medium power (3-5 minutes) and medium intensity (1-3 minutes) paces.
- Afterward, cool down by decreasing your pace and pedaling slowly for 5-10 minutes.
Indoor Cycling for Interval Training
Now that you have gotten used to low and medium-intensity cycling you may move towards building stamina and endurance.
- Warm up for 5 minutes and pedal at a low intensity for about 10 minutes. Switch to medium power for about 10 minutes. Then pedal at a high intensity for 2 minutes, followed by low intensity for 2 minutes, then high intensity for 2 minutes, and low intensity for 2 minutes.
- Cool down by pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes. Once you get used to this routine, you can add a minute to your interval training.
Here are a few safety tips you need to consider while indoor cycling,
- You may develop fatigue after cycling continuously, so you must take a break and rest for a while.
- You must maintain proper balance, otherwise you may fall off the bike and injure yourself.
- Maintaining good posture is the key to getting the most out of your workouts. If you are uncertain about the posture, consult your trainer.
- If you attend spinning classes, you must feel free to keep up with the group. Since you are a beginner, you should carry out at your own pace. Gradually increase the speed once you get comfortable.
- Lastly, consult your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions to know whether you are fit for indoor cycling.
Is 30 minutes of indoor cycling a day enough?
Yes. CDC recommends getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, so cycling for 30 minutes improves your lower body strength and increases stamina and endurance.
Does indoor cycling burn belly fat?
Yes, indoor cycling burns belly fat as it is a type of cardio. Cycling may not contribute to direct weight loss. Maintaining a healthy diet, working out daily, and measuring caloric intake is sure to work wonders.
How long should I indoor cycle to lose weight?
As a healthy adult you must burn 3500 calories more than you consume, to lose a pound of body weight. This means an individual weighing 125 pounds needs to do indoor cycling for 47-72 minutes daily to burn 1 pound of fat.
The Bottom Line
Following the outlined warm-up, interval training, and recovery phases, individuals can explore the power of indoor cycling to boost their metabolism, burn calories, and improve cardiovascular endurance. The incorporation of strength-building exercises not only contributes to toned muscles but also ensures a balanced and effective workout.
A proper indoor cycling workout plan can reap significant health benefits like improved endurance and fitness, increased stamina, and overall positive mental well-being. If you are new to indoor cycling, you must do these sessions under an expert’s supervision and always consult your doctor if you have a medical history.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Things to Know About Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) (2014, acefitness.org)
- 7 Great Benefits of a Stationary Bike Workout (2019, healthline.com)
- 8 Tips to Lose Weight With Indoor Cycling (2022, verywellfit.com)
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2008, health.gov)
- Indoor Cycling Workouts (2022, verywellfit.com)
- Losing Weight with Indoor Cycling: How It Can Help You Achieve Your Ideal Weight (n.d., cyclemasters.com)
- Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? (2022, tandfonline.com)
- Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners (2022, verywellfit.com)
- The Pros and Cons You Should Know Before Buying a Smart Exercise Bike (2022, makeuseof.com)
- The Top 10 Benefits of Indoor Cycling for a Healthy Lifestyle (n.d., cyclemasters.com)