The Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Cycling

Written by Powertrain Sports,  23rd June 2022
Beginner's Guide to Indoor Cycling header image
With indoor cycling, you no longer have to depend on the weather to get the pedals going. If you've decided to make cycling at home a habit, here's what you need to know!

Indoor cycling has generated a lot of buzz over the past few years. And for good reason! While we can all agree that outdoor cycling offers a host of physical and mental benefits, indoor cycling can work as a great alternative to get your daily exercise in!

Because of its convenience, more and more people are adopting an indoor workout plan to keep healthy. With indoor cycling, you no longer have to depend on the weather to get the pedals going.

Planning to try indoor cycling but don’t know where to begin? Here’s everything you need to know about indoor cycling at home.

What is indoor cycling?

Indoor cycling is very much like outdoor cycling, except you are on a stationary bike. It’s an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that can help improve strength and endurance.

Indoor cycling typically combines slow and fast pedalling and aims to mimic outdoor cycling by including bursts of speed and uphill climbs.

It’s a high-intensity and low-impact workout that vary in intensity and can help pump up your heart rate and improve body composition and endurance.

Why start indoor cycling?

Regular indoor cycling can essentially benefit every muscle of your body and help improve your mental health. Here are some of the top indoor cycling benefits you should know:

It engages and improves all your muscles.

Signing up for different workouts and activities just to make sure that all the muscles of your are developed is no easy feat.

Indoor cycling offers a one-and-done, total body workout that engages a number of muscles simultaneously.

Your core muscles, upper back, glutes, upper body, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower legs — with indoor cycling, no muscle is left behind.

You can exercise whenever you want.

With work commitments and family and social life to consider, many people struggle to squeeze in their daily exercise. Indoor cycling offers a lot of convenience by allowing you to exercise whenever you find the time — the bike is right there waiting for you to hop on.

You can invest in your own stationary bike and develop a cycling routine on your terms. There is no specific schedule for cycling at home and for how long since you have complete control over your workout and progress.

It helps boost your mental health.

It’s a well-known fact that exercise of any kind, when done regularly, can offer a lot of mental health benefits. Indoor cycling is no different.

With every indoor cycling session, you may start noticing a rush of dopamine. The consistent cardiac activity will also help alleviate stress and anxiety. With consistent training, indoor biking can offer various long-term benefits for your mental health.

How to choose an exercise bike for your home gym

A range of stationary bikes from Powertrain
A range of stationary bikes from Powertrain

While you can always join an indoor biking class, it is also recommended that you invest in an exercise bike or stationary bike. It’ll offer you the convenience of cycling whenever you have the time instead of having to follow someone else’s schedule.

Here are the considerations you need to look into when buying an exercise bike.

Fit and adjustment

A stationary bike is not a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment. You need to purchase one that offers a lot of modifications so you can adjust the seat, handle, height, etc. to suit your body.

The bike’s positioning also needs to be modifiable depending on the type of cycling you will be doing. Ideally, for indoor cycling bikes, you should be able to sit on them with your spine straight and your knees a little bent when your legs are extended. When you hold the handlebars, your forearms should be at a 90-degree angle.

Look into the weight and height limit before purchasing your exercise bike to make sure that your equipment can fully support you and that it can be used for a long time. You should also know how to set up and maintain your exercise bike to ensure that it stays in good working condition.

Included warranties

Stationary bikes are not cheap, especially if you pay for them upfront. That’s why warranties are so helpful. These written assurances from your bike's manufacturer can provide you peace of mind knowing that your equipment can be repaired or even replaced so long as it meets the guidelines and timeframe stated in your agreement.

Similar to other gym equipment like treadmills, the warranty of a stationary bike may apply to parts, electronics and frames. It’s a good idea to confirm warranty info with the retailer and keep your original receipt and manual.

Features and add-ons

Powertrain bike console
Choosing a bike console with real-time data display will help you achieve your workout targets.

Today, you’ll find exercise bikes equipped with all sorts of additional bells and whistles. You need to decide whether you want to get the most basic cycling equipment initially and then upgrade to a better model once you’re confident and comfortable, or purchase the best model now that already has features you can work on eventually. Most beginners start with a bike that offers real-time feedback on speed, rotations per minute (RPM), pulse, time, distance and calories burned.

Look into the resistance of the bike you are eyeing and check if it is a strap and friction-based or magnetic-resistance model. You should also check whether you want your bike to have other features, such as an integrated tablet or WiFi capability.

All these add-ons can hike up the price of your bike, but if you see yourself committing to indoor cycling, these are innovative features you can enjoy with your bike during training.

Do I need any accessories for indoor cycling?

For beginners, the fewer accessories you have, the better. But eventually, once you find your rhythm and have got weeks and months of indoor cycling under your belt, you can start adding more accessories to your workout.

Here are some recommended accessories for indoor cycling:

  • Fan – To keep you cool during your workout. You can set up your bike on your patio or near a window, but a fan (or two) will also provide some much-needed cool air during your workout.
  • Entertainment – These can be your phone, laptop or smart TV, so you can listen to music or watch your television series while cycling.
  • Bar stool – A handy place to keep your phone or remote and have it within easy reach. If your exercise bike has an integrated phone or water bottle holder, you won’t need a bar stool nearby.
  • Towels – Make it a habit to keep one face towel to wipe your face with and a bigger one that you can set on the floor to catch your sweat.
  • Water – Stay hydrated during your workout by drinking water regularly, especially during slower the slower parts of your workout.

What is the proper indoor cycling wear?

The outfit you wear during your indoor cycling session can make or break your workout. You don’t want to interrupt your biking streak because of uncomfortable clothing.

Always wear sleek, tight and supportive clothes that will feel cool and comfortable against your skin despite the sweat. Clothes that promote air circulation and are moisture-wicking will work best at not ruining your rhythm.

Proper indoor cycling wear would typically include:

  • Supportive sports bra or crop top for women
  • Workout leggings or tights
  • Bike shorts
  • Power training suit
  • Indoor cycling shoes
Indoor cycling wear
When choosing indoor cycling clothes, the most important things are comfort and breathability.

How to choose a beginner-friendly workout

If you’re attending an indoor cycling session at the gym, your trainer can lead you through a suitable workout for a beginner.

When doing a solo session at home, you must build your endurance first by doing easy warm-ups and short, challenging intervals. During each session, you can alternate between periods of fast-paced cycling and slower pedalling to catch your breath.

There are also websites, online workout plans and videos that you can use as additional resources to add more variety to your cycling routine.

Final thoughts

There’s a reason why there’s so much hype surrounding indoor cycling. It’s an effective calorie-burning workout that also tones your muscles and improves your stamina.

Start small with short biking stints and make gradual progress. Ideally, a productive 45-minute cycling session done at least three times a week can help you get closer to meeting your fitness goals. It is never too late to start a new workout routine, and indoor cycling is a great way to work on your health in a fun and challenging way.

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