Stationary biking is one of the most effective exercises for losing weight, building muscle mass, and improving your health! Whether you have a stationary bike in your home gym, or you want to use a stationary bike at your local fitness center, there are tons of reasons to use this piece of fitness equipment often!
Many people believe stationary biking is only good for a light cardio workout or a relaxing warm-up, but there is so much more you can do with a stationary bike!
Personally, I love stationary biking so much that I bought a Schwinn 170 for my home gym set up.
Not only are they easy on your joints and one of the best treadmill alternatives, but they can improve your body in a variety of ways!
Keep reading below to see the benefits of riding a stationary bike, the best stationary bike workout (which I use), and the best stationary bike to buy for yourself!
Types of Stationary Bikes
Generally speaking, there are two main types of stationary bikes: upright stationary bikes and recumbent stationary bikes. Personally, most of this article will focus on upright stationary bikes because I believe they are much more useful.
Recumbent stationary bikes allow you to sit with a full backrest. Although this might be more comfortable for some people, it is certainly not as intense of a workout as using an upright stationary bike.
Additional sub-types of upright stationary bikes include traditional upright bikes, fan bikes, and spin bikes.
Each of these bikes has different traits which provide a different type of workout.
What Muscles Does a Stationary Bike Work?
Although I love fan bike and spin bike workouts, I will mostly discuss the benefits of stationary biking pertaining to traditional upright stationary bikes, since they are the most commonly found option in fitness centers.
Before I get into the details of stationary bike benefits, here are some of the main muscles that stationary biking works:
- Gluteus Muscles
- Shin Muscles
- Abdominal Muscles
- Postural Muscles
The main muscles that a stationary bike works are the quadriceps and hamstrings. These muscles do the most work for providing power to pedal the stationary bicycle. Additionally, the gluteus, calves, shin muscles, and hip flexors provide additional power for stationary bicycling.
Your abdominal muscles and middle back muscles provide stability to keep your upper body in the correct position while biking, so they also do some of the work while you are stationary biking.
Lastly, your triceps and shoulders do a fair amount of work to hold your upper body on the handlebars as well.
What are the Benefits of Riding a Stationary Bike?
There are a ton of benefits of stationary biking! Here are a few of the most important that you should know:
1.) Riding a Stationary Bike is Very Easy to Learn!
In my opinion, the main advantage of using a stationary bicycle is that it is very easy to learn, and nearly anyone can do it.
Riding a stationary bicycle is much safer and easier than riding an actual bike, and nearly everyone can enjoy doing stationary bike workouts!
Not only does this making riding a stationary bike a great workout for new trainees with limited fitness experience, but it also makes it a great source of additional cardiovascular training for people who are already-fit and looking for a way to add a new exercise to their routine.
2.) Stationary Cycling is Low Impact on Your Joints
Stationary cycling is one of the best forms of exercise because it is a low-impact workout that nearly anyone can do.
Regardless of whether you have tendinitis like Jumper’s Knee, you’re dealing with arthritis, or you’re in perfect physical condition, you can do a great workout on a stationary bicycle!
In high school, when I first began suffering from chronic tendonitis in my knees, I did nearly all of my cardio on the stationary bicycle! Then, when I was recovering from two-foot surgeries in college, I again turned to the stationary bicycle to stay in shape.
Stationary biking does not replace the cardio of a basketball game or practice; but it does pretty well, especially while injured!
If you’re relatively new to exercising, stationary biking is a great way to burn calories and lose weight before moving to more intense forms of exercise that put more impact on your hip, knee, and ankle joints.
If you’re an athlete, like myself, stationary cycling is a great way to do additional cardiovascular training without wearing down your joints too much.
Regardless of your reason, riding a stationary bicycle is a great option because it is friendly for your joints.
3.) Stationary Biking Burns Tons of Calories!
Stationary biking is one of, if not the best calorie-burning workouts.
Not only can you do intense stationary bike workouts like the Tabata interval protocol, but even moderate-intensity stationary biking is a great calorie burner.
According to the Harvard Medical School, 30 minutes of vigorous stationary biking burns more calories than vigorous calisthenics, rowing workouts, aerobic step workouts, and even general circuit training!
HIIT stationary bike workouts are particularly effective for burning calories, which makes stationary bike workouts one of the best ways to lose weight!
4.) Stationary Biking Can Build Muscle Mass
Unlike many other cardio workouts, such as jogging, using a stationary bike can actually help you build muscle mass!
Especially if you are doing HIIT stationary bike workouts, using a stationary bike is a great way to build a muscular and aesthetic physique because it can help build bigger and stronger leg muscles!
A great way to continuously build muscle mass in your lower body by stationary biking is to do interval workouts while consistently increasing the resistance and amount of total intervals done.
Although stationary biking won’t build as much muscle as doing squats or deadlifts, it is definitely a great exercise to help build lower body muscle mass.
2.) Stationary Biking is Excellent for Sport-Specific Conditioning
Riding a stationary bike is great for improving your sports performance and overall physical conditioning.
If you want to improve your aerobic conditioning, you can do longer moderate-paced stationary bike workouts.
If you want to improve your anaerobic conditioning, you can do HIIT leg workouts on the stationary bicycle, like the Tabata Interval Protocol.
Doing HIIT stationary bike workouts is a great way to develop anaerobic conditioning for intense sports like basketball and football, while aerobic stationary bicycle rides are great conditioning for other sports where you need to do a lot of conditioning without wearing out your body.
Which is the Best Stationary Bike to Buy?
If you would like to purchase a stationary bike for your home gym, there are a lot of options. You can choose between fan bikes, spin bikes, or traditional stationary bikes. There are also stationary bicycles that come with virtual display monitors, where your workouts will become much more interactive.
The top of the line stationary bike is the Peloton stationary bike, but there are tons of great options if you don’t want to spend $2,000.
If you want a basic indoor spin bike that doesn’t have too many features but is comfortable for frequent use, I think the best spin bike to buy is this Yosuda Indoor Bicycle:
As I mentioned before, I purchased the Schwinn 170 because I believe it is the best stationary bicycle for a home gym. This is a traditional upright stationary bicycle, and I have loved it since purchasing it:
You can check out this cyclist guide for more information on the best stationary bike to buy.
What is the Best Stationary Bike Workout Routine?
There are a ton of outstanding stationary bike workouts you can try, but I will give you just a few of my favorites here:
5 Minutes of Hell
One of the most intense cardio workouts I have ever attempted is 5 minutes of continuous pedaling on a stationary bike with a resistance that does not allow you to fall below 45 RPMs or go above 60 RPMs.
I did this during the summer years ago with one of my friends at Marist who played football there, and we both were absolutely smoked!
This is a great stationary bicycle workout for building muscle, and we both got a lot faster as well!
Another one of my favorite ways to train on the stationary bicycle is by using intervals of 2 minutes of speed with 1-minute rest. For this stationary bike workout, I use RPMs between 90 and 100.
This is not the best stationary bike workout for muscle growth, but it will help you build incredibly strong legs with great muscle endurance! Try this protocol for 20-30 minutes and see how your legs feel afterward!
Lastly, as I said earlier, Tabata Interval stationary bike sprints are a great way to get in shape fast.
The Tabata Interval Protocol involves 8 rounds of 20 seconds of maximum intensity peddling, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is an awesome stationary bicycle workout for muscle and cardiovascular conditioning!
Concluding Thoughts – Benefits of Stationary Bike Riding
Using a stationary bike is a great way to get in shape. It is a simple tool, and it is a very effective exercise.
You can use a stationary bicycle to build muscle mass, improve your physical conditioning, and exercise all year.
If traditional stationary bike workouts put too much strain on your joints and consistently cause hip, knee, or ankle pain, consider aqua cycling workouts instead.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to drop a comment or send me an email!
Read Next: Jacob’s Ladder Exercise Benefits