Planning to exercise but don’t want to go outside? You can stay indoors and still get that full-body workout with indoor cycling.
Rain or shine – indoor cycling is one of those activities you can do whatever the weather. But it’s more than just a good workout. Indoor cycling focuses on endurance and strength to keep your heart healthy and improve your overall health.
But where to start? Much like any other workout, it’s important to know the basics. From the number of calories burned to what you should wear: here are 30 of the most asked indoor cycling questions – answered!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. What is indoor cycling?
- 2 2. What is the main focus of indoor cycling?
- 3 3. I’m a beginner without any experience. Why should I choose indoor cycling?
- 4 4. How do indoor bicycles work?
- 5 5. What are the different types of indoor bicycles?
- 6 6. What are the target areas of indoor cycling?
- 7 7. Can indoor cycling really help me lose weight?
- 8 8. How many calories can I burn through indoor cycling?
- 9 9. How often should I work out?
- 10 10. Can I get abs from indoor cycling?
- 11 11. Should I join an indoor cycling class?
- 12 12. How intense are indoor cycling classes?
- 13 13. Can I do indoor cycling at any time of the year?
- 14 14. What are the health benefits of indoor cycling?
- 15 15. Can I drink water in between indoor cycling sessions?
- 16 16. Can I also drink energy drinks while indoor cycling?
- 17 17. Can I eat before indoor cycling?
- 18 18. What should I eat before indoor cycling?
- 19 19. Can I lose weight while cycling even without going on a diet?
- 20 20. Will I gain muscle through indoor cycling?
- 21 21. Will I feel sore the day after indoor cycling?
- 22 22. Do indoor bicycles require a lot of maintenance?
- 23 23. Can I do indoor cycling even if I am overweight/obese?
- 24 24. Is indoor cycling safer than outdoor cycling?
- 25 25. Can indoor bicycles be used by children?
- 26 26. Is indoor cycling safe for pregnant women?
- 27 27. Can I focus only on indoor cycling or should I add other workouts to my exercise routine?
- 28 28. Does indoor cycling have any risks?
- 29 29. What are the best shoes for indoor cycling?
- 30 30. What should I wear when indoor cycling?
- 31 Conclusion
1. What is indoor cycling?
Indoor cycling is a high-intensity cardiovascular workout designed to mimic outdoor cycling. It makes use of stationary bikes or “spin bikes” with a weighted flywheel to stay in place. The exercise consists mainly of pedaling, but it also works out your upper body strength as you control your weight by leaning towards the handlebars.
2. What is the main focus of indoor cycling?
Indoor cycling focuses on three main points – weight loss, improved strength, and endurance. This high-intensity workout helps you shed the extra fat by burning calories and promoting faster metabolism. It strengthens your muscles, concentrating primarily on your legs and lower body, by using high resistance training. It also one of the best exercises to improve endurance by increasing your heart rate within the least amount of time.
3. I’m a beginner without any experience. Why should I choose indoor cycling?
Indoor cycling is an excellent alternative to running or jogging because it’s an activity that anyone can do. Whether you are a beginner or expert, indoor cycling is a great way to lose weight. You don’t need any special training. Heck, you don’t even need to know how to bike. All you need is to hop on the spin bike and pedal to get your blood pumping. So you hit two birds with one stone – you burn calories while enjoying your ride.
4. How do indoor bicycles work?
Indoor bikes or spin bikes are similar to ordinary bicycles but without wheels. They are specially designed to provide a safe and effective low-impact cardio activity. The height of the handlebars and saddle are adjustable depending on your preference. Indoor bicycles move by using a magnetic mechanism that applies resistance to the pedals in order to increase the intensity of the exercise. The pedals contain toe clips, similar to those on sports bikes, allowing you to pull one foot up and push the other foot down. Modern indoor bicycles incorporate a small screen in the front that allows you to easily track time spent and the number of calories burned.
5. What are the different types of indoor bicycles?
There are two main types of stationary bikes: upright and recumbent. Upright indoor bicycles are the most similar to traditional bikes, with a vertical orientation and handlebars in the front. It allows more movement because you can ride on both a standing and sitting position. It targets the abdominal muscles as you keep your body upright. Recumbent indoor bicycles, on the other hand, allow you to seat against a backrest with your legs stretched out front to provide additional balance. These bikes are easier on the lower back and are a better option for those with weak hips and lumbar spines. Because of its reclining position, recumbent exercise bikes are gentle on your joints to eliminate the risk of injuries.
6. What are the target areas of indoor cycling?
While indoor cycling involves mainly pedaling, it is in fact a full-body workout that works all of your major muscle groups. Here are the body areas that are put into action when cycling:
- Indoor cycling strengthens and trains your lower back, hips, abdomen, and pelvis for better balance and stability. You can get the rock-hard abs you’ve always wanted as indoor cycling keeps your abdominals contracted to tone your midsection.
- Whether you are standing, sitting, or leaning forward, upper body support is used to change movements while indoor cycling. Most of your upper body (arms, back, chest, shoulders) are used to support yourself as you ride on your indoor bicycle. These shifts in body movement work to help tone the biceps and triceps on the arms and the deltoids on the shoulders.
- Indoor cycling helps strengthen and tone your back muscles. When you lean forward on your bike, the muscles in your back support your upper body and help stabilize your torso. This helps keep your spine straight to ward off osteoporosis and improves posture.
- Indoor cycling targets the gluteal muscles in your buttocks. When your thighs rotate, you are moving three gluteal muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. You can help tone these areas by standing up, inclining, or increasing the resistance of your bicycle.
- These are the muscles that do the most work during indoor cycling. As you pedal, the quadriceps (muscles in the front of your thighs) push hard on the down-stroke. These keep your body strength as you ride. Your hamstrings (muscles in the back of your thighs), on the other hand, pull back on the up-stroke. They give the knee the ability to bend in order to properly pump the pedals. Together, these muscles work in unison to give you strong, toned, and lean legs.
- Your calves move during the downward leg thrusts each time you pedal. Calf muscles (gastrocnemius) assists the hamstrings in knee flexing as you ride your bike. Because of this, your calves get significant tension to build muscle.
7. Can indoor cycling really help me lose weight?
That’s a BIG YES! Indoor cycling is a low impact workout designed to blast calories faster than running or jogging. It uses a technique called interval training. This involves steadily increasing your heart rate for short periods of time and followed by a short recovery period. As your heart rate goes up and down, your body enters into what is known as anaerobic phase – a process where you burn stored carbohydrates and higher calories. By alternating between a faster and more comfortable pace, you are also triggering post oxygen consumption, also known as the “after-burn effect,” that pumps up your metabolism and helps you burn calories much faster after only a few minutes of indoor cycling.
8. How many calories can I burn through indoor cycling?
On average, you can burn around 350 to 500 calories during a 45-minute workout – a huge deduction from your calorie intake for the day. This means you shed twice as many calories than you would be jogging on the treadmill or brisk walking, but with a lesser impact on the joints. But the number of calories also depends largely on other factors that can vary from person to person, like weight and intensity of training. Try using an online calorie burn calculator to get a better estimate for your height and weight.
9. How often should I work out?
You should spend at least 45 minutes on your indoor bicycle every day. Plan to work out at least three times a week for best results. But if you increase your calorie intake, then you should likewise increase your time on your indoor bicycle to five times a week.
10. Can I get abs from indoor cycling?
Yes. Indoor cycling strengthens and trains your core muscles to get the rock-hard abs you’ve always dreamed of.
11. Should I join an indoor cycling class?
Just like any other activity, indoor cycling is more fun if done with a friend. If you lack the motivation to exercise alone, you should consider joining an indoor cycling class. This is an organized group activity wherein each of the participants is given a stationary bike. Classes usually last from around 45 minutes to one hour. A trained instructor leads the class to the beat of heart-pumping music. Your instructor will use motivation and enthusiastic coaching to lead the class, making it easier for you to follow your fitness goals. A typical indoor cycling program incorporates five basic movements: seated flat, standing flat, jumps, seated climb, and standing climb.
12. How intense are indoor cycling classes?
The level of intensity when it comes to indoor cycling classes is quite high. Your heart rate will pump up and stay elevated during the entire session. While there are a few minutes of slow pedaling, most of the class will be spent on faster, steady cycling. By the end of each class, you will end up drenched in sweat and out of breath. And the best part? You burn around 650 calories each session! However, you can still adjust your workout according to your own pace. One of the major advantages of these classes is that every participant can control the level of intensity but still be a part of the group.
13. Can I do indoor cycling at any time of the year?
Yes! Indoor cycling is weatherproof. You can ride at practically any time of the year – rain or shine.
14. What are the health benefits of indoor cycling?
Aside from providing you with a total workout, indoor cycling also improves your overall health. Here are a few ways how indoor cycling keeps you both fit and healthy:
- Stationary bikes are low impact. They remove the ground force reaction through the joints so it’s a great way to train and keep joints healthy. It is also a good exercise for people recovering from orthopedic injuries, as there is minimal impact on the hips, knees, and ankles.
- Indoor cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels. This helps stimulate and improve your heart to lessen the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Indoor cycling puts you on a different kind of high. It provides you with the same rush of adrenaline that athletes usually get from running a marathon. This encourages the release of chemicals known as endorphins which create feelings of euphoria, lower stress levels, and improves the body’s overall immune response.
- Indoor cycling also helps improve overall mental health. Aside from endorphins, it also increases blood flow throughout the body to encourage the release of mood boosters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This helps combat depression and anxiety as well as to boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Indoor cycling encourages the body’s production of melatonin. It also improves your circadian rhythm to help you get a better night sleep to refresh your brain cells.
- Indoor cycling works the muscles of the lower back as you lean forward towards the handlebars – one of the best ways to improve your posture. It also helps keep your spine straight and supports your upper body to stabilize your torso. The effect is to improve overall balance and coordination.
- Research shows that at least 30 minutes of indoor cycling per day could lower the risk of developing diabetes by at least 40%. This is because one of the major reasons why insulin levels in the body spike up is the lack of physical activity.
- Indoor cycling focuses on keeping a steady heart rate and focuses on controlled breathing. This improves your overall lung capacity, especially in situations where physical activity tends to take your breath away.
15. Can I drink water in between indoor cycling sessions?
Yes, but only in moderate amounts. Proper hydration is an essential factor in any exercise. Long workouts like indoor cycling will take a lot of fluids out of your body and will need replenishing. However, too much water could also wear you down. During an indoor cycling session, drink a small sip of water every 10 to 15 minutes.
16. Can I also drink energy drinks while indoor cycling?
Yes, but again in moderation. Anything that will hydrate and replenish the water lost will do. When it comes to indoor cycling, sports or energy drinks reload your body on electrolytes. But make sure to drink only around 8 to 10 fl. oz., and check the label that the drink contains no more than 8% of carbohydrates.
17. Can I eat before indoor cycling?
Yes! You will find it hard to exercise on an empty stomach. The secret is choosing the right time to eat: you should eat an hour and a half before indoor cycling. Your body will need the energy to make it through the workout in order to get the maximum benefits. Aside from giving you the much-needed fuel eating can also help you burn more calories because of the thermic effect of food.
18. What should I eat before indoor cycling?
Fruits and vegetables; lessen your intake of carbohydrates. To keep yourself healthy before a workout, stray away from junk food and anything with artificial food preservatives. Some specific foods work best at different times of the day. Depending on your workout schedule, here are a few foods you should incorporate into your diet:
- Breakfast is a must if you decide to do indoor cycling in the morning. Load up on healthy antioxidants like blueberries paired with oats and coconut to give you the right amount of protein and good fat to get you through the rest of the day.
- Afternoon cycling calls for a light but filling snack. Almonds and other nuts will provide you with the right amount of protein and carbohydrates for a proper workout.
- At night, your meal should consist mostly of lean protein from chicken, fish, or eggs. You can pair it with roasted veggies like sweet potato or broccoli.
19. Can I lose weight while cycling even without going on a diet?
It depends on your fitness goal. If you want to focus on increasing your muscle mass, then you don’t need to cut back on your food intake. But if you want to shed fat, you’ll need to cut back on those carbs and supplement your indoor cycling with a proper and nutritious diet.
20. Will I gain muscle through indoor cycling?
Yes. Indoor cycling focuses mainly on resistance training – this means it does not just burn fat but also builds muscle mass. Most of the build-up can be seen in the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
21. Will I feel sore the day after indoor cycling?
Yes. No pain, no gain! If you want to get the body you want, you’ll have to deal with the consequences. And when it comes to indoor cycling, you should expect severe muscle pain on your legs and quads like you’ve just run a marathon. But don’t worry; this will last for only the first two weeks.
22. Do indoor bicycles require a lot of maintenance?
Not at all. Most of the internal mechanisms are already enclosed, so all you’ll need to do is just check that the screws and pedals are secured tightly. When it comes to cleaning, use a damp cloth to wipe off the sweat from the bike to prevent rust. It’s also a good idea to oil the chain once a week.
23. Can I do indoor cycling even if I am overweight/obese?
Yes. Most indoor bikes are made of a combination of steel and synthetic material designed to hold a lot of weight. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to check the maximum weight limit on a bike before you buy one.
24. Is indoor cycling safer than outdoor cycling?
Yes. Without a doubt, indoor cycling is safer than road cycling. You don’t have to deal with the risks of traffic, reckless drivers, and pollution. Indoor bicycles are bolted safely to the floor, so there’s no need to worry about them collapsing.
25. Can indoor bicycles be used by children?
Yes, but only if the child is at least 13 years old and 4’11” in height. Most indoor bicycles have a built-in child safety lock, but you’ll still need to keep the necessary precautions.
26. Is indoor cycling safe for pregnant women?
Yes. Because indoor cycling is a low impact activity, pregnant women can get a good aerobic workout without putting unnecessary stress on your joints. If you’re pregnant, all you have to do is modify your indoor bike set up by adjusting your saddle and handlebars for a more comfortable position. Remember to dial down your intensity level and wear a heart rate monitor to keep you on track.
27. Can I focus only on indoor cycling or should I add other workouts to my exercise routine?
Indoor cycling is a great cardio exercise, but it doesn’t strengthen all your muscles. If you want a well-balanced workout routine, you should incorporate other physical activities to your schedule. Try adding yoga and strength training to work on your flexibility and muscular strength.
28. Does indoor cycling have any risks?
There are always risks when it comes to physical exercise. Indoor cycling is quite taxing on the knees and legs, especially if you’re not in the correct position. To prevent injuries, be sure to align your knee with the center of the pedal and maintain proper balance.
29. What are the best shoes for indoor cycling?
For starters, choose shoes with a rubber sole to prevent slipping on the floor and with enough traction to keep you on the bike. But if you want a better workout, choose specialized indoor cycling shoes that have a “clipping in” feature. This allows your shoes to actually attach to the bike securely for more stability. These shoes come in two types: Two-hole (SPD) or three holes (Delta).
30. What should I wear when indoor cycling?
Stay away from running shorts and other loose-fitting clothes that can ride up or even get caught in the bike while pedaling. Choose clothes that are tight-fitting so you can move freely. Do not wear clothes made of cotton that can absorb sweat; instead opt of items that are made of spandex, nylon, and polyester. For that extra protection, consider investing in fully padded cycling shorts.
Aside from keeping those extra inches off your waist, indoor cycling keeps you in tip-top shape by targeting your muscle strength and endurance while promoting your overall health at the same time. This high-intensity workout is both challenging and exhilarating. Ready to give it a go? Pedal your way to health with indoor cycling!