Exercise bikes are the perfect piece of cardio equipment. Like any cardiovascular exercise, working out on your exercise bike will make your heart stronger and burn calories. What really sets the exercise bike training apart, is its ability to make intense cardio or long endurance sessions doable for a range of athletes.
While HIIT and endurance training come with a big metabolic and cardiovascular payoff, running and other impact workouts used to reach effective effort levels limits their benefits for many.
Here’s what’s great about low impact training on an exercise bike.
From the forgiving recumbent style to the more aggressive indoor/studio cycle, you can choose from a variety of exercise bikes to meet your training needs. The three styles, recumbent, upright, and indoor cycle, all offer their own benefits and tradeoffs.
Recumbents protect low back and knee injuries and vulnerabilities; however, the seated position can make it difficult to get a very intense workout.
Upright bikes provide a forgiving middle ground, with comfortable seat and peddle heights.
Lastly, riders seeking a more aggressive workout will tend to favor indoor cycles or studio style cycles. With proper set up, even studio bikes provide a very forgiving low impact workout that can specifically target posterior strength for seasoned outdoor cyclists and athletes.
Because the workout is low impact, intense interval training on an exercise bike is attainable for more people. Traditional forms of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) involve running or explosive work with weights or bodyweight.
While these are effective ways to improve fitness, many athletes cannot sustain them without injury. HIIT workouts on an exercise bike are equally intense for your cardiovascular and metabolic systems, without the risks of joint impact and form breakdown.
Consider yourself a well-rounded athlete? Do you understand the benefits of HIIT training but struggle to make it fit with your training program? Exercise bike workouts offer a solution.
Training hard on an exercise bike lets you do HIIT workouts without adding to the impact volume of your training. When your HIIT workouts don’t interfere with daily training, you can still up your weights, mileage, or plyometrics in your weekly training schedule.
The back of your body is a connection of muscles that work to create power through your major athletic movements of pulling and pressing. Many athletes (including cyclists) struggle with building strength in this area, resulting in reduced performance and greater risk of injury.
With proper positioning, indoor and upright cycles will help you build posterior chain strength (here’s what you need to know). Keep your bottom low, even when out of the saddle, and back, even when seated. A higher position of the handlebars will also help you to lengthen your low back and extend the spine, supporting development of the posterior chain.
While this position is different from a traditional cycling position, developing posterior chain strength will increase your performance the next time you tackle a tough hill.
Heart rate training can be used to teach your body to become more efficient at endurance workouts. Unfortunately, completing endurance running workouts at an appropriate intensity comes with the same impact risks that many experience in intense and plyometric training.
Whether you are looking to step up your stamina for spring training, or simply use long cardio to increase your calorie burn, the immediate feedback of a heart rate monitor and the low impact workout provided, make your exercise bike a powerful tool to accomplish your goals.
While cycling workouts have a reputation for being tough on the knees; with proper set up and use, cycling will train your knees to be held in a healthier position. The key is to practice proper alignment during your workouts.
When setting up your bike, adjust your saddle height so that you can keep a very slight bend in the knee at the bottom of your movement. As you peddle, check that you are maintaining the position of your knee over the center of your foot during your ride. Letting it cave to the inside or bow to the outside, will wear on your knee over time.
If you struggle with maintaining a healthy position, slightly reduce the load and increase the pace of your workout instead. It also helps to think about engaging your inner thighs and sitting lightly on the saddle to introduce more core engagement.
There is more to low impact exercise than active recovery or getting started on a workout program. There are big benefits to including training sessions on your exercise bike regardless of your level of fitness. Looking to level up your training, but wondering how to start?
Try a patented Sprint 8 workout to increase metabolism, reduce belly fat, and seriously improve fitness in just 8 weeks. This 20-minute workout is time efficient and will make you fitter, without sacrificing your joints. New exercisers (and older exercisers) who want to protect their joints can train with greater intensity and duration while also building leg and core strength.
Experienced athletes can get benefits of HIIT training and increased stamina, without requiring additional impact and explosive efforts, which can result in a breakdown in form and increase risk of injury.
As you begin your indoor cycling workouts, pay extra attention to your knee and spinal alignment through properly setting up your bike. Scheduling cycling specific active recovery is also a great idea. Then, enjoy the variety of low impact training options on your exercise bike.