Updated: Sep 18
Exercise or stationary bikes are one of the most popular machines for those looking to start a home workout routine, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, Fitscope is dedicated to helping beginners start their journey to become expert cyclers in no time. Read on to learn about the numerous health benefits indoor cycling can provide, how to get started and an easy workout that’s perfect for anyone.
There are way too many benefits of cycling to list here, but the main thing to remember with it is that it provides one of the most beneficial, full-body workouts with a single machine. Some of the benefits one receives include:
· Low-Impact – Because a person is sitting part of the time, there is no undue stress placed on the joints. It’s especially helpful for people who are more than 50 pounds overweight or with severe joint problems being it puts even less stress on hip, knee and ankle joints than walking. It also helps those with arthritis or other joint conditions who may be susceptible to extreme temperatures being it’s completely inside. Cycling is also great for those recovering from injuries being it allows one to gently work on stiff joints or damaged muscles by increasing mobility and providing a full body workout. Finally, because exercisers are on even terrain, less stress is placed on the knees when compared to outdoor bikes.
· Strength - It’s a common misconception to think of cycling as only providing cardio benefits, but it’s actually a great strength workout as well. As long as one is practicing proper form, they can workout not only the obvious muscles (buttocks, calves, thighs, and hips) but also their abs, arms and shoulders due to needing to engage the core and upper body to stabilize themselves on the bike. Strength benefits start almost immediately, but when one begins to feel like the resistance level they started at just isn’t providing an intense workout anymore, they can simply increase the resistance to allow their body to get a more intense strength workout.
· Cardio - Cardio workouts lower high blood pressure, may prevent heart attacks and strokes, increase metabolism and regulate blood sugar and hormone levels, and cycling definitely provides these benefits. Cardio blasts away body fat, especially when one utilizes HIIT workout styles that are based on intense interval sprints that make one’s metabolism shoot through the roof. Cardio also improves post-exercise oxygen consumption meaning one will breathe better (and not get winded after climbing a flight of stairs) even when not working out. Finally, cardio improves a person’s ability to recover after a strength workout due to removing some of the lactic acid buildup and helping to ease the micro muscle tears that come with strength training.
· Better Brain Health - Memory, attention and brain function are drastically improved when cycling due to the action of peddling as well as the hormones and endorphins released when working out. These endorphins don’t just help cognitive function; they also help reduce stress and can combat depression via the release of serotonin. Serotonin has even more benefits as well, including: helping with anxiety and OCD, promote better sleep and even enhance one’s sex life.
After reading this, one is probably itching to get on their stationary bike and start cycling, but they need to learn how to get started to get the best workout possible as well as prevent injury.
· Learn the Bike – If one has never used an exercise bike before, or is looking to use a different model than what they’re used to, they need to familiarize themselves with the bike they’re considering buying or using (check out the Fitscope guide on the best budget bikes here). Begin by looking at the seat and making sure it is level with the hips. If the bike checks out, get on it and make sure that there is a slight bend of the knee when at the bottom of the pedal. If not, adjust the pedals, seat and handles to match a person’s height. If one is exceptionally short or tall, they may find they need to use a different bike due to height limitations. Finally, making sure that one knows how to adjust the resistance is integral to getting a good workout.
· Find the Right Pace and Resistance Level – Not everyone is going to start at the same level, and that’s perfectly normal! An experienced exerciser who is quite fit will be able to start workout out for a longer amount of time with a elevated resistance level and at a higher speed. The best way to figure out the correct workout is by gaging workouts by the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). RPE is based on someone working out with their fitness levels judging the intensity on a scale of 1-10 (with ten being as hard as they can push themselves). A beginner may find that a 10 on their RPE scale is a resistance level of 5 while an experienced cyclist will find it to be somewhere between 8-10 (depending on how their bike’s resistance levels are numbered, it may even be more).
· Know How to Use the Bike – Make sure to practice good form by sitting on the saddle (seat for non-cyclists), pedaling with a slightly bended knee, and keeping the back in a relatively straight line (no hunching or death-gripping the handles). Cyclists will also want to make sure they’re breathing throughout the workout and doing occasional form checks to make sure their body is in the correct position. Finally, one should make sure their feet are securely within the pedals to avoid injury and safety mishaps.
Beginner Workout Plan
Using the RPE scale, this workout will get anyone into great shape and comfortable with cycling:
· Step 1. 5 Minutes, RPE 3: Warm up for a few minutes with low resistance to get the body moving
· Step 2. 3 Minutes, RPE 5: Increase the resistance until one is able to hold a conversation but still feels like they’re getting a decent work out. This is the user’s baseline pace.
· Step 3. 2 Minutes, RPE 6: Conversations should be more difficult to have, but one shouldn’t feel like they’re exerting all their energy.
· Step 4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3
· Step 5. 5 minutes, RPE 3: Cool down with a leisurely, comfortable pace.
· Step 6. Enjoy all of the benefits of cycling!
Cycling is an excellent workout for those looking to have a strength and cardio routine rolled into one. For those who want more personalized instruction or to take their workouts to the next level, Fitscope offers a variety of workouts for cyclist of all fitness levels, including some of the best HIIT cycling workouts in the industry. Want to vary your workouts? Fitscope offers a variety of HIIT, treadmill, elliptical, yoga and many more exercise videos for those who want to get the best workout possible. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.