When you have a small window to work out in and don’t fancy jumping on a treadmill, grabbing the weights or doing a HIIT class in front of the TV, you could get on an indoor bike and get that fitness hit there instead.
The good news is you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time in the stationary saddle to feel the benefits of a good indoor bike workout. In fact, if you’ve got less than an hour to play with, you’ve got the right workouts at your disposal and the ideal bike setup in your chosen pain cave, then you should be good to go.
So how do you make the most of that time on your indoor bike? We asked trainers and coaches for their tips on how to do just that and get some sessions you can work into that time on your bike.
That’s the advice from Matt Rowe, who is head cycle coach at Rowe & King and is a co-host on the Zwift PowerUP Cycling Podcast. “Having a plan provides structure to your training and holds you accountable,” says Rowe. He added that getting into the right mindset and looking long term is key here too.
“Try and find that blend of indoor cycling and IRL riding that works for you and your other life commitments (family, work, social etc). You want to establish a realistic cycling – life balance, that you can sustain for the long term. Just remember, indoor training is hugely time efficient and frighteningly effective. You don’t need to spend hours and hours training in the cold, wet and dark. You can achieve a lot via indoor training.”
The bike is the main component and getting things in the right place is one of the key things to do. “Your seat height should be roughly around hip height,” explains Dani Dellarco, a spin instructor with interactive fitness equipment maker Echelon Fitness. “You will want to be able to fully extend your leg in your pedal stroke without overextending at the bottom.”
You’ll need to think about the other things that will be useful to have at your disposal and close to hand when you’re getting sweaty. Matt Rowe says investing in a fan is a wise move. “While there are physiological benefits to manipulating your training environment to make it really hot (reducing airflow and not using a fan), there are also drawbacks. All things considered, for the vast majority of riders, I advise keeping cool. You will be able to produce more power and get stronger quicker.”
Now you’ve got the advice, it’s time to work out exactly what to do with that time on your indoor bike. We asked our experts to provide those workouts that can fit into that 50 minute window.
Workouts should be straightforward to apply to most indoor bikes, though you may see a reference to RPM and RPE. RPM stands for revolutions per minute and relates to pedal or cycling speed. The number that usually precedes it indicates how many times a pedal makes a full revolution in one minute.
RPE is also known as rate of perceived exertion, and relates to a scale used to indicate effort levels. That scale goes from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning you’re doing nothing on the bike, to 10 being an all out 100% sprint.