According to Andy Applegate of Carmichael Training Systems, an indoor exercise bike can actually provide you with a harder workout than an outdoor bike because you are fighting against the resistance of the trainer. As a beginner, you can design workouts that feature short, hard efforts to build your aerobic endurance, hill workouts to improve your climbing and drills to focus on your technique.
An indoor exercise bike provides you with a solid cardiovascular workout. Before starting your workout, make sure you have the bike properly set up and make sure to use correct technique to maximize efficiency and to avoid injuries. To do this, begin by standing next to the bike and adjust the seat height so it is even with your hips. Slightly tilt the seat forward. Align the handlebars so they are higher than your seat position but still comfortable to reach. This helps reduce potential lower-back issues.
If increasing speed and power is your aim, try a workout designed with speed intervals. These intervals are mixes of brief moments of hard effort with recovery sections. After warming up, use an easy gear and pedal as fast as you can for one minute. Your rate of perceived effort should be a five on a scale of 10. Recover for two minutes for a complete set. Repeat three more times for a total of four intervals. Following this, do 10 intervals where you ride for 30 seconds hard followed by 30 seconds of easy riding. Aim to have your rate of perceived exertion at a nine out of 10.
If you want to focus on developing a fluid pedal stroke, which can help you increase your power and efficiency, try a single-leg pedaling drill. Place a chair or stool close enough to the bike so you can comfortably rest a foot on it. Begin with the chair on your left side and pedal only with your right foot. Focus on smooth pedal strokes with a cadence of 90 rotations per minute. Ride with your right leg for 30 seconds and then switch sides. Aim to build time up to four minutes per leg.
According to Bicycling.com, one important aspect of learning how to climb is also learning how to recover. During this workout, you ride six six-minute intervals with surges and recovery periods. During these surges, you may need to stand up to smoothly turn the pedals. Throughout the main part of the interval, you want your rate of perceived exertion to be at an eight out of 10 and your cadence to be at 80 to 85 rotations per minute (rpm). At the second minute of the interval, add in a 20-second surge where you increase the resistance so your cadence drops to 60 to 65 rpm. At the fourth minute of the interval, add a 40-second surge where you change the resistance so your cadence is at 70 to 75 rpm. Finally, in the final minute of the interval, change your resistance so your cadence is at 75 to 80 rpm and surge for the whole minute. Between each six-minute interval, ride easy for three minutes.
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.