Some people like to bike to work or school.
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Or they like to hop on a bicycle to travel some trails, be they paved and in a park or up and down a mountain.
Good for them! Biking is good exercise and keeps smog out of the air since you’re not taking a car everywhere.
But what about those nasty days, where it’s raining sideways and even plastic rain slickers get soaked through?
Or when it’s so hot and humid out that it’s legitimately dangerous to exercise outside?
I swear I melted into a puddle last weekend. Don’t let yourself get caught in the heat with no water. Heat exhaustion is no joke.
Be safe, head indoors, and hop onto a stationary bike.
Better yet, throw in some HIIT for a great workout in half the time!
What Is a Stationary Bike?
They are also called exercise bikes because their sole purpose is to let you exercise.
You can’t commute to school on one of these!
However, you can do some things you can’t otherwise do with a normal bicycle.
I already mentioned that you can hide from bad weather.
But you can also often control the resistance, especially with spin bikes. We’ll touch on those in a moment.
You know how biking uphill is harder than biking along a flat surface?
Increasing your resistance lets you get the feeling of climbing a hill without having to actually go out and find one.
This makes a stationary bike perfect for HIIT cardio workouts. Also, unlike sprinting, spinning is very low-impact!
You can also often find spin classes at your local gym.
Lastly, exercise bikes often have more comfortable seats than an outdoor bicycle.
You can also find them set up for a more upright or laid-back posture, so you don’t have to lean over the handles.
The two options tend to be upright, which is self-explanatory, and recumbent, which is when you lay back and keep your feet roughly equal to your heart.
This helps with blood flow because blood doesn’t have to fight gravity to get back up to your heart.
What is a Spin Bike?
A subset of stationary bicycles, spin bikes have a flywheel that provides resistance to your pedaling.
This means that, even at the easiest level, spin bikes will provide a more intense cardio workout than other stationary bikes.
That flywheel also keeps going when you stop pedaling, so you have to keep moving otherwise inertia will play tricks with your feet!
You do need to already have a certain level of fitness to spin on a spin bike. If you’re new to biking, start with a normal exercise bike.
It’s also a good idea to avoid the spin bike if you have joint pain in your legs or hips.
Also, since spin bikes mimic the position you’d take on an outdoor bike, your arms will do some work as well.
It’s not much but every little bit helps.
Regardless of which bike you use, you’ll work out your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Even your core will get into it a little!
After all, it’s good to workout some of your muscle groups together.
A Few Words on HIIT
Basically, you split the workout into a medium intensity portion and a high intensity portion.
The medium level should get you to 50-60% of your maximum heart rate and the high level should boost you up to 75-85% of your maximum heart rate.
A heart rate monitor can be useful for figuring this out.
An easy rule of thumb is that if you can talk while going at the highest intensity, you’re not giving it enough effort!
Also, you don’t take a full rest. The medium section of the workout is your active rest.
The Stationary Bike HIIT Workout
First of all, you need to choose your bike.
Choose a spin bike if you are used to biking. Otherwise, hop onto an upright or recumbent stationary bicycle.
Then, you need to warm up.
That’s easy. Pedal at a low intensity for about five minutes.
Now the real workout begins.
Get your feet moving and pedal at a high level of intensity for 20 seconds.
Use a timer or stopwatch. No cheating!
When that’s done, drop down to a medium level of intensity for 40 seconds.
Keep alternating between high and medium effort until you finish the workout.
Try to hit 15 minutes!
After that, cool down.
Slow down to your warm-up levels and pedal for five more minutes.
25 minutes total and you’re done.
How Should You Increase the Intensity
There are two ways to increase the intensity on a stationary bike.
The easiest way is to pedal faster for the more intense sections.
Another method is to increase the resistance.
You’ll have to figure out the resistance levels that work best for the high and medium intensity portions of the workout, but that’s not too hard to do.
Just don’t try to figure it out on the fly!
You can also stand on the pedals for a little bit more full-body workout.
Stationary bikes are a good way to get the benefits of biking without having to deal with bad weather or bad drivers.
Although I focused on stationary bikes for this workout, you can do the same thing with normal road bikes!
The biggest problem there may be the inability to set your resistance. Just vary your pedaling speed.
Though, let me know if you find a series of hills that take 20 seconds to climb and are spaced 40 seconds apart!