I'm convinced that stationary bikes are the underdog of all workout equipment. At my gym, I have to fight for a turn on the treadmill or elliptical, but the bikes always seem to go untouched in the corner. Considering how trendy Spinning is, I find the stationary bike's lack of popularity outside the classroom fascinating.
Maybe bikes just need a little rebranding — so, I reached out to Jen Wyatt, a certified Spin instructor at Chrome Cycle Studio, to help spread the word on why bikes are actually a valuable workout tool.
Her response proved my underdog theory, because stationary bikes check off so many workout boxes: they're a great activity for burning fat, losing weight, building lean muscle, bettering heart health, and strengthening endurance. They offer a low-impact workout for people with joint pain and anyone suffering from an upper-body injury, too.
If you're tempted to get on the stationary bike bandwagon, try utilizing this underappreciated piece of equipment with Wyatt's expert-recommended exercises.
Most people are conditioned to work out for 45 to 60 minutes, which is reflected by the length of most fitness classes, Wyatt says. Using that logic, she suggests starting an easy ride between 88 to 102 RPM (revolutions per minute) at a moderate resistance for 30 to 45 minutes.
Do this three to four days a week, and on the fourth day, do a 25- to 30-minute ride at a higher resistance at the same RPM.
If you don't have a monitor on your bike that tracks RPMs, this can easily be remedied by pulling up songs with an 88 to 102 BPM range, Wyatt explains. (Think "We Are Never Ever Getting Back" by Taylor Swift or "Umbrella" by Rihanna — a quick Google search can offer more options.)
The ride to the rhythm means your right foot hits on the one and your left foot hits on the two. (In other words, if your right foot hits on the thump, your left foot hits on the snap).
Choose a moderate resistance — not too challenging, but one wherein you are able to freely speak to the person next to you or harmonize along with your favorite song and still ride. "Think Beyoncé performing at Coachella, gotta sing and move, sing and move. That's your goal: Beyoncé," Wyatt joked.
According to Wyatt, HIIT is where you build power in your endurance level with resistance plus speed.
Beginners should rest for 90 seconds, and intermediate and advanced, 30 seconds.
This plan is where you will see the most amount of fat burn, Wyatt said.
- Warm up for 10 minutes with an easy to slightly moderate resistance at a moderate pace (72 to 88 RPM). It should feel as if you are calf-deep in water or walking up a small ramp. You want to be able to easily talk and ride throughout the whole warmup.
- Take it to a slightly challenging but doable resistance at a base pace, 64 to 74 RPM.
- Pick up your RPM to 84 to 94 for 30 seconds.
- Take it back to your base pace, 64 to 74 RPM, for 30 seconds.
- Repeat three to four times.
- After the final set, recover for three minutes.
- Repeat the above three to four times.
- Cool down for five minutes with an easy to moderate resistance at a moderate pace. Same as your warmup will do the job, 72 to 88 RPM. You should notice your heart rate dropping and be able to speak with no problem a minute into the cooldown.
Another way to do this same training is to choose 10 to 12 minutes with a 60 to 80 BPM.
- Warm up for three songs with an easy to slightly moderate resistance at a moderate pace (72 to 88 RPM).
- Choose a challenging, still doable resistance. At the verse, keep pace in time, meaning right hits on the one, left on the two.
- At the chorus run, pick up your pace — go all out.
- At the verse, take it back to your base pace.
- Do this for three to four songs (3:30-minute songs are suggested).
- Recover for one full song.
- Repeat for another three to four songs.
- Cool down for five minutes with an easy to moderate resistance at a moderate pace. Same as your warmup, 72 to 88 RPM.
These intense intervals train your body to use more muscle while increasing the resistance you can sustain over 60 minutes, Wyatt noted.
- Warm up for 15 minutes with an easy to slightly moderate resistance at a moderate pace (72 to 88 RPM).
- Choose a moderate resistance.
- Sprint all out for 20 seconds.
- Recover for 10 seconds.
- Repeat for six to eight times.
- Recover for five minutes.
- Repeat sequence four times.
- Cool down 10 minutes with an easy to moderate resistance at a moderate pace. Same as your warmup, 72 to 88 RPM.