It’s easy to overlook stationary bikes when searching for a great cardio workout, especially when you are faced with more familiar options like the indoor track at The Rec or a bike from the bike share program.
Even I prefer my road bike to a stationary one. Regardless, I have to admit that one of the most rigorous workouts I do regularly has me sweating profusely on a bike intended to go nowhere. If you haven’t experienced a workout on a stationary bike, it’s time you give it a go! But before you break a sweat, here are three quick tips to get you started:
Adjust the bike.
Proper bike fit means better cycling form, which translates to a more comfortable and comprehensive workout of your muscle groups. First, bring the seat up until your knee has a slight bend at the bottom of the pedal rotation. The tip of your knee should be just above toe. Next, adjust the distance between the handlebar and the seat. Making this distance too short will put more of your weight on the saddle which can be quite uncomfortable. When this distance is too far, it will feel like you’re laying on a giant exercise ball, which is just awkward. Find an even balance that comfortably distributes your weight between the three points of contact —your feet, bottom, and hands. A more aggressive stance —one that positions your torso horizontally— will be harder to maintain and in turn, will work your abs more.
Give your muscles a few minutes to get in the zone before you expect them to perform. Fortunately, cycling affords you the opportunity to start as slow as you want, unlike running. I usually spend 3-5 minutes getting up to speed.
Determine your zones.
In contrast to a real bike, the resistance settings on a stationary bike provide a helpful measure of your current level of effort, without having to worry about wind resistance or hills. Knowing what settings meet your maximum effort, extended effort, and recovery pace preferences will be helpful.
Now you are ready to cycle!
Workout One: 30 second sprints every 5 minutes (40 minutes).
This is my favorite cycling workout. Sprinting for thirty seconds doesn’t sound very difficult until your legs are screaming in pain after your fifth or sixth rep. Trust me, it hurts. There are two key tips to remember to get the most of this workout. First, pedal, or sprint, as hard as you can —no excuses. Second, don’t set a recovery pace that is too easy. Four and a half minutes of recovery is a long time —don’t let your legs get cold.
Workout Two: 10 minutes of effort with 3 minutes of recovery (3 reps).
This exercise is focused more on your ability to sustain a hard pace for a long time. Don’t pick a setting that you can’t hold for ten minutes. Start with a realistic setting, and if you need to bump it up a notch on the next go-around, do so. Finding the right setting for the ten minute efforts can be difficult and might take some time. Remember not to compromise. Starting the third rep of this workout will be mentally challenging. Don’t quit. You won’t regret it.
I hope you have a ground level apartment, because stairs might be a challenge after these workouts. Try these workouts and let us know how they go in the comments below!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Henry G.
Henry is majoring in mechanical engineering, and despite his technically geared mind, he has found a home working at Auburn Campus Recreation.
Born in California and raised in Auburn, Henry's family now lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He has seven siblings and loves traveling all over the U.S. with them. His dream job is to own a coffee shop on the West Coast.
Henry spends his time riding his bike with the Auburn Flyers Cycling Club, exploring his passion for photography, teaching his puppy new tricks, and studying in coffee shops around town.