According to Carmichael Training System’s Andy Applegate, an exercise bike can provide you with a better workout than an outdoor bike because you are riding against the resistance of the trainer. Furthermore, you can adjust the resistance to customize your workout for your fitness goals. This means you can mix in speed work, hill climbs and long rides.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. This translates to about 30 minutes most days. If you increase that to vigorous-intensity, you need 75 minutes per week. Cycling on level ground is considered moderately intense, while if you add in some sprinting or climbs, riding becomes vigorous.
Technique and Form
Before any workout, make sure your exercise bike is properly adjusted for you. Stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so it is level with your hipbone. Make sure the seat is tilted forward slightly to reduce the risk of lower-back pain. Raise the handlebars so they are slightly higher than the seat; you want to be able to reach the bars comfortably without any straining or back pain. Never add resistance to a point where you cannot pedal fluidly and smoothly. As you pedal, make sure the stroke begins from your hips and travels through your legs. Avoid over engaging your quadriceps and hamstrings; this can lead to knee pain.
Low-intensity endurance sessions, or long and slow sessions, on the exercise bike help you increase your aerobic capacity or overall endurance. This means that over time, you’ll be able to go farther while using the same amount of energy. For these workouts, dedicate anywhere from one to two hours on the bike, but you only need to ride at a steady easy to moderate pace. To make it entertaining, meet up with some friends or join a group class for these long sessions. Add in music and keep your intensity low enough that you can maintain a conversation.
In this hour-long hill climb workout, you use a scale of 1 out of 10 on perceived exertion to determine how hard to ride. Begin with an easy warm-up for eight to 10 minutes and then gradually add resistance to your bike so you are at 60 to 80 revolutions per minute when you pedal. Ride here for five to seven minutes and you should be at a 6 or 7 on the scale of perceived exertion. Next, remove the resistance and pedal easily for two to three minutes. For the next 30 to 34 minutes, do a set that begins with three to four minutes of climbing where you are at a 5 to 7 on the scale of perceived exertion, then do two minutes at an 8 to 9 on the scale of perceived exertion, followed by a two-minute easy recovery section. Repeat this two to three times and then do an easy eight- to 10-minute cool down.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.