Whether you choose a spin class or having an exercise bike at home, there’s a lot of benefits to stationary cycling. If you are trying to lose weight, improve your strength or general fitness, or even just want to have fun while you work out, then adding an exercise bike to your fitness program is a perfect solution. Stationary cycling has a lot going for it, so let’s take a look at the top ten exercise bike benefits that will make you want to ride that bike!
Benefit #1: Cardio Fitness
There’s not much that can beat cycling for improving your cardio fitness. Not only does an intense spin session really get your heart working, but also it’s a controlled environment, meaning it’s ideal for interval training. You can alternate between high intensity, high speed pedaling and recovery, getting the proven fitness benefits of high intensity interval training ('HIIT'). Yet you can easily control and adjust both your effort and your intervals.
It won’t take you long to see just how much your heart has to work once you get the spin speed (RPM) really going - with practice you’ll be able to reach RPMs of 120 or more. If you wear a heart rate monitor while you spin, you can easily adjust your intervals and your RPM for a perfect cardio fitness workout.
Recent research suggests that the best cardio programs include a mix of both HIIT and easier, ‘steady state’ cardio, and here too your exercise bike is a perfect tool in your fitness arsenal. Long, steady state workouts can be boring, but on a stationary bike you can make the time pass in front of the TV or even reading, or spinning in company with friends at the gym.
Benefit # 2 Improving Strength
Don't think that just because you aren’t on the road powering your bike up hills that you won’t improve your strength with an exercise bike. Just about all exercise bikes offer some sort of resistance control that can simulate the efforts of climbing or sprinting. And unlike road cycling, you can create the effects of the hill exactly when you want, for as long as you want, and you can make that ‘hill’ exactly as steep as you want.
The same goes with sprinting. While low resistance high speed spinning is great for cardio fitness, increasing the resistance a bit, and working hard to keep up your pedal speed (RPM), quickly builds strength, especially in your calves and thighs.
It’s not just your legs that will get stronger from using an exercise bike. Spin programs that alternate between simulated climbing, both seated and out of the saddle, and high RPM sprints, will also challenge other muscle groups. Your core especially is going to get a tough workout helping you stabilize your body and balance whether standing, pushing hard at high resistance in the saddle, and particularly in those really high RPM sessions.
Your arms and shoulders will need to work too in the high resistance sessions, as you use the handlebars to help you ‘lever’ power to the pedals. Don’t think spinning is just a lower body workout - it really works your whole body.
Benefit #3: Weight Loss
Stationary cycling’s combination of cardio and strength work means it packs a double punch for calorie burn. The most effective weight loss workouts aim to burn calories during the workout (cardio) and build muscle tone for an all-day calorie burn (strength). A forty minute intense interval session on an exercise bike can reach as much as 600 calories, making spinning a great option if you are trying to fit your workouts into a busy schedule.
As we’ve already mentioned, stationary cycling is also a great workout for building muscle tone, and that’s important for weight loss. Muscle requires more effort to maintain than fat, even at rest, so increasing muscle mass will help you burn more calories even when you aren’t working out.
Benefit #4: Low Impact
Cycling - whether on the road or indoor - is a great exercise if you are looking for a low impact option to protect your joints or if you are recovering from an injury. Best of all, you can adapt your exercise bike workouts to exactly how much your joints can handle.
Standing (out of the saddle) work adds body weight to the workout, and puts a bit more pressure on your joints than seated work, but that means you can add body weight to your training without adding impact. Spinning also helps to build strength and stability in your lower back, shoulders, and neck, without the impact of running.
Benefit #5: Joint Mobility
If joint health is your concern, spinning is a great exercise, because it helps to maintain mobility of your ankle, knee, and hip joints. Low resistance, easy spinning maintains joint mobility and reduces inflammation. Increasing pedal resistance - and maintaining correct form - can improve muscle strength around the joints to improve joint stability, which helps prevent joint injuries.
Of course, if you are thinking about spinning to help with an existing condition or to assist recovery after an injury, always consult your doctor first!
Benefit #6: Safety
Exercise bikes are a really safe way to get all the benefits of cycling without any of the risks. You don't need to worry about traffic, falls, or crashes with an exercise bike. As roads get busier, more and more cyclists are looking for ways to replicate the excellent health benefits of cycling while keeping themselves safe, and an exercise bike is a perfect solution. Even competitive cyclists come indoors and onto their stationary bikes for a lot of winter training, avoiding riding in the dark or in snow or rain.
If you train on an exercise bike at a gym or in your own home, you also make sure you stay safe and secure. Spinning is ideal for you if you are looking for a way to exercise without putting yourself in risky or dangerous situations. If you have health concerns, a spin class or an exercise bike at the gym means you always have people around who can help you if you need it, even trained first aiders.
If you use your exercise bike at home, you can have friends or family around, or easily call for help if you get into trouble. Unlike road running or cycling, if you do need help, you can be easily found at home or in the gym!
Benefit #7: Simplicity
Training with a stationary bike is a fairly simple exercise. While technique is important, it isn't complicated, and good form is fairly easy to master and maintain.
Even if your technique suffers as you get tired, you are a lot less likely to get injured than if you lose form while running or weightlifting. Anyone can master effective spinning technique. You don’t need to be a trained athlete or even particularly coordinated to be able to get a good, safe workout on an exercise bike.
In fact, you don’t even need to be able to ride a bike. If you think you can’t try riding a stationary bike because you don’t know how to ride a bike on the road or you never enjoyed cycling, well, think again. Stationary bikes are extremely stable, very secure, and easy to ride. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to get on and off, especially if you opt for ‘clip in’ shoes and pedals, but at least the bike isn’t going to fall over while you try to get clipped in or out!
Benefit #8: Variety
A lot of indoor exercises can quickly feel routine, or even boring. That's not the case with spinning. There are several options out there to add variety to your indoor cycling sessions.
Spin classes are intense and high energy group training sessions, and there's a strong social side to it - you may even meet new friends! Even if you cycle mainly at home, you can mix it up with joining a spin class from time to time. Don't feel like there is pressure to keep up in a spin class; you can always adjust the instructor’s program to suit your fitness levels, and believe me, you won’t be the only one!
Indoor cycling at home also has a lot of options. Not only can you find exercise bike programs that offer a lot of variety including HIIT, steady state, and strength workouts, but even unusual movements like single leg cycling or adding upper body weight training to a spin session. There are also a lot of online programs that you can use with your spin bike to simulate races, run competitions with your friends, and even join in virtual spin classes from the comfort of your own home.
If you have a high-tech set-up for indoor cycling, then there are some very fancy simulation tools available, but even your smartphone can add a lot of variety, tracking and even coaching to your workout on any exercise bike. Even a quick search on Pinterest will show you how many programs and workouts are out there for free among your new indoor cycling community!
Benefit #9: Comfort and Convenience
A stationary bike is a great way to workout in relative comfort. Of course, like with any workout, you will get hot and sweaty, but at least you don't have to contend with bad weather! You can enjoy the benefits of cycling without getting cold or wet, and you can ride any time of day or night. You can set up your stationary bike where you can watch TV, spend time with your family, or even read a book or magazine.
If you have your exercise bike at home, it’s also convenient. You don't need a lot of fancy clothes or equipment to enjoy a short spin; you can hop on your bike for a quick workout in your regular clothes and trainers. If you are riding at home, you don’t have to pack up water bottles or towels to take to the gym, and you don’t need to go through all the safety and maintenance checks you would do if you were heading out on a road bike.
Benefit #10: Affordability
You can get started in stationary biking without spending a lot of money. Sure, there are very expensive exercise bikes on the market with a lot of fun or convenient features, but you can also easily find simple, perfectly good exercise bikes for around a hundred dollars - that’s pretty affordable compared to treadmills or weight training equipment.
Most gyms also offer spinning classes and have plenty of stationary bikes, so if you are already a member of a gym, you might find that you don’t need to buy a bike of your own.
You also don't need a lot of specialized gear for riding a stationary bike. If you plan to spend a lot of hours in the saddle, then cycle shorts and gloves are helpful, but for many riders they aren’t necessary. Almost all bikes are equipped with pedals that can work with toe clips, so you can ride in your regular gym shoes or trainers.
If you want to do drills like single leg workouts, then you will want cycle shoes that clip into the pedals, but they don’t need to be top of the range. For most riders, their regular gym clothes, a towel, and a water bottle are all you need.
If you already have a road bike, you can quickly and easily convert it to a stationary bike with a rear wheel trainer. This lifts up the back wheel, holds it off the floor, and adds resistance. Commonly called ‘turbo trainers’, this is another way to get started in spin training without even having to buy an exercise bike!
We hope these ten exercise bike benefits will make you want to get on your bike and ride. And if you need to convince your friends to join you in a spin program, why not share this article with them and see if we can persuade them too?
Spinning is an all around fitness workout that is not just effective, it’s also fun. If you are taking up spinning or are already using an exercise bike, tell us what you think. Have you enjoyed these benefits of spinning? Are there other benefits we’ve missed? We love to hear your comments!