how long should beginners ride a stationary bike

How Long Should a Beginner Ride an Exercise Bike?

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Every home gym needs at least one dedicated cardio machine. If you’re looking for something rewarding but easy on the joints, then you can’t go wrong with a stationary exercise bike.

With more modern “connected” equipment you can replicate most of the benefits of a professional spin class in your own home. But whether or not you choose a bike with a WiFi connection doesn’t matter as long as you can find a productive routine and with it.

One of the hardest parts of exercising at home is staying motivated and honest. One of the biggest mistakes newcomers make is jumping into an extreme workout routine that they simply aren’t ready for.

While those intense sessions will undoubtedly get the job done it is not a good introduction to cycling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed after only a single session especially if you don’t manage to push through entirely.

Optimal Amount of Exercise Time for Biking Beginners

Twenty minutes is all that it takes. And we’re not talking the most extreme twenty minutes of your life either. Cycling is such an effective and well-rounded workout because you can begin at the intensity you are comfortable with. You then gradually increase that intensity over time to improve results. You don’t need to start in overdrive from the first day. That’s an easy way to burn out before you reach any goal.

A simple twenty-minute session every other day is enough to raise your heart rate, burn calories, and get in the mindset of consistent exercise. The key to making the most of these twenty minutes is to apply some variety to the intensity by adjusting the resistance throughout the exercise. This should take place in small intervals between 3 and 5 minutes long.

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Twenty Minute Interval Workout For Beginners

Technically, your warm-up phase should include some stretching before you ever take a seat on the bike. But once you’re seated, you need to begin increasing your heart rate and activating the leg muscles. The warm-up phase should last five minutes. Keep the resistance at a comfortable level, but try for a fast pace between 70 and 100 rounds per minute (RPM).

After five minutes, increase the resistance 1 or 2 increments. The exact numbers are going to vary according to your bike as well as your own fitness level. You should feel the increased intensity compared to the warm-up phase, but it shouldn’t be enough to physically exhaust you immediately. This single step up from the warm-up can be considered your baseline.

The baseline phase lasts for three minutes and then increase the resistance 1 or 2 increments again. At this point, the increased resistance will be more noticeable. Your heart rate is going to reach the ideal range as you pedal for the next two minutes. This is the peak the routine.

The next phase is another three minutes at baseline. It won’t be as easy as your first baseline phase, but it’s should be a welcome break from the peak phase. You’ll need to push through that peak one final time before the routine is finished.

The workout is wrapped up with a final two minutes at peak intensity and then a five-minute cooldown phase. Your cooldown resistance should be similar to your warm-up phase, though no one will blame you if you lower it slightly.

Simple and Effective for Beginners

The great thing about this routine is how easy it is to learn and to improvise. It manages to include enough high-intensity cardiovascular exercise to make a difference without wearing you down. The formula is always:

  1. Warm-Up (5 min)
  2. Baseline (3 min)
  3. Peak (2 min)
  4. Baseline (3 min)
  5. Peak (2 min)
  6. Cooldown (5 min)

But you’re still able to adopt this formula to your personal needs. Not all beginners are used to the same level of physical activity. You may be able to push your resistance increments much higher during peak phases. Or you may be able make adjustments to the intensity using features of your equipment, such as increasing the incline.

Over time, this short routine should help build endurance and stamina. You might eventually find yourself more than ready to push past the twenty-minute mark. That is always the goal. And; hopefully, you’ll notice the positive health changes that go with it.

Gradually Adding More Exercises and Time to the Routine

A reliable cardiovascular routine is a great place to start, but you’ll eventually want to incorporate more exercises if you want to see more balanced results. Whether you’re trying to shed fat, build muscle, or prepare for a sport; there are plenty of exercises that complement the exercise bike and will help you reach your goal.

  • Bodyweight Exercises

These are some of the easiest exercises to incorporate into your routine because they don’t generally require equipment. You’re probably already familiar with the most famous bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. All of these exercises are effective despite their simplicity. Bodyweight workouts can target complex muscle groups in nearly all regions of the body.

You can add some flavor to your cardio routine by adding a few new phases. After each baseline and peak phase, you leave the cycle, rest for twenty seconds, and then perform a bodyweight exercise for 2 minutes. If you’re looking for a balanced routine, then you should mix-and-match exercises that target different regions of the body. Some of the most effective include:

  1. Push-up
  2. Plank
  3. Burpee
  4. Squat
  5. Lunge

Whether you choose to target as much as possible every session or focus on different muscle groups each day is up to you. But remember that muscles need 48 hours to heal after a tough workout. That means you should only target the same muscles every other day at most. Many people recommend dedicating certain days to certain areas of the body. And the number one rule is to never skip leg day.

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  • Barbells and  Free Weights

Adding weights to any routine is a great way to increase the intensity significantly. It also makes it a lot easier to start building muscle mass. Exactly which weights you choose will depend on your fitness goals and the room you have available. Some manufacturers sell compact home gyms that contain a variety of weight options in a single machine. At the very least, a barbell and two dumbbells with interchangeable weights is a great start.

Bodyweight exercises and cardiovascular exercises are excellent at building endurance. Lifting weights is better suited for increasing strength. But that doesn’t mean these two can’t work together. Remember that you’ll need a workout routine to fill alternate days. Adding weights to alternate days helps fill the gaps and keeps you motivated throughout the week.

Here are a few of the best weight lifting exercises for beginners:

  1. Bicep curl
  2. Bench press
  3. Chest fly

Your Workout and Your Heart Rate

Cardiovascular exercises are known for their ability to get the heart pumping and oxygen flowing. But what exactly does this mean?

Exercising to control your heart rate is one of the skills you will hopefully learn as you exercise more. Certain workout routines are designed to put the heart rate in specific “training zones”, which represent a percentage of your maximum heart rate(MHR).

To calculate your MHR simply subtract your age from 220. Then, if you are a female, add 6 to that total. A 20-year-old male will have an MHR of 200. With that information in mind, he can determine his target heart rate for specific exercise routines. Here are the different training zones:

  • Zone 1 (50% – 60% MHR): This is the MHR you hope to achieve during your warmup and cooldown phases. It is the zone most stationary bike exercises begin with.
  • Zone 2 (60% – 70% MHR): The second zone allows you to begin building endurance. It’s also the first zone where you can experience physical differences like weight loss.
  • Zone 3 (70% – 80% MHR): This is the aerobic zone where most cardiovascular exercises take place. Your baseline cycling phases should keep you between 70 and 80 percent of your MHR. It will begin improving respiratory function.
  • Zone 4 (80% – 90% MHR): This is the high-intensity zone that you’ll experience during peak phases. Exercising while in this zone can directly improve your speed and power.

You should never reach beyond 90 percent of your MHR unless you are in a controlled environment. It can result in serious damage to the heart.

Summary: Stationary Bikes Boost Other Exercises

Reaching this heart rate isn’t only beneficial to your cycling efforts. That is why mixing cycling with bodyweight exercises can be so effective.

You reach zone 3 and zone 4 MHR on the stationary bike, which makes the added exercise phases even more effective. The stationary bike makes a great foundation for any beginner workout routine.