Stationary bike exercises strengthen your heart, legs and core while also burning calories. For a 155-pound person, 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous indoor cycling typically burns from 260 to 391 calories. You can manipulate three variables to keep your stationary bike workouts interesting: speed, tension and body position. Speed ranges from slow during a climb to fast during a sprint. Tension can be light, moderate or heavy, and body position can be seated or standing. Combine these variables with timed intervals and a good playlist to experience a heart-pounding, calorie-burning stationary bike workout.
Up and Over Exercise
Simulate a flat road for your warm-up by adding a minor amount of tension so that you feel some resistance under the pedals. Keep your core tight, your shoulders relaxed and a slight bend in your elbows, and ride between 70 to 85 revolutions per minute (RPMs) for three to five minutes.
Remain seated and progress your workout into a climb. Add enough resistance to the bike so that your maximum pedal speed runs between 60 to 65 RPMs. You should feel moderate to heavy tension under the pedals and you should be breathing heavily. Maintain your seated climb for one to three minutes.
Add tension to the bike and transition your workout into a standing climb. With your hips hovering above the seat, your core engaged and your shoulders relaxed, maintain a 60 to 65 RPM cadence. Allow your body weight to shift from pedal to pedal as you simulate the climb. Remain on a standing climb for one to three minutes.
Release most of the tension and sit down. Speed up to 85 to 95 RPMs for seated speed training. Maintain this cadence for up to one minute, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat another round of speed for up to one minute.
Slow your pedal speed to your flat road pace of 70 to 85 RPMs for one minute as an active recovery. As your breathing slows down use the recovery time to sip water and stretch your upper body.
Repeat the up and over exercise for one to three more rounds to complete a full 30-minute workout. Finish your workout with a three to five minute cool-down ride on a flat road.
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Indoor Cycling Sample Class: Explore Your Zones
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Celebrating Indoor Cycling: Rides, Races, Drills & Skills
- If your bike does not have an RPM display you can determine your revolutions by counting the pedal strokes you make with one leg over the course of one minute.
- Insufficient warm-up and cool-down time may reduce workout safety by leaving your body unprepared for the transitions between rest, work and recovery.
Amanda McVey has been teaching fitness and personal training since 2008 in the San Francisco, New York City and Seattle markets. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer, AFAA certified group fitness instructor and UGI master trainer. McVey has many credits to her education including indoor cycling, pre- and postnatal, TRX, rip training, and trigger point therapy.