We all reach that point in our workout routine where we just feel bored and tired of doing the same maneuvers over and over again. Your fitness level has reached its peak and you’re probably wondering if this is it.
Do you have a stationary bike, water, a towel, plus an eagerness for a challenge? HIIT is the perfect way to up your fitness game whether you're a newbie or pro. It gives you a foundation to build and tailor a program to fit your needs and goals.
But is HIIT as effective on a stationary bike? Absolutely! Keep reading and I'll tell you why a stationary bike is a perfect tool for a good HIIT session, plus I’m including a flexible beginners stationary bike HIIT workout program!
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and it is basically what the name says. It is a series of quick, unsustainable rounds of high intensity activity followed by a short period of a slower paced activity to recover before repeating.
HIIT has become one of the most popular cardio workouts you can find nowadays. This is mainly because HIIT doesn't require much equipment or time. Plus, you can tailor it to fit your preferences. For example, if you're into weights, you can use those, or a treadmill if you're a runner.
The sudden high intensity periods followed by a quick breather will shock your body into burning more calories, all while improving your speed and stamina.
It has also been proven to help such conditions as type 2 diabetes and heart disease - even more than continuous exercise would. A few HIIT sessions a week will improve your cardiovascular health immensely.
HIIT on a Stationary Bike
As we've already established, HIIT can be done using any or no equipment. However, a stationary bike will be a bit more beneficial, especially if you're new to the ropes.
Unlike a treadmill, a stationary bike is a relatively low-impact machine, which means it will enable you to drive up the intensity even further without worrying about injuries. In turn, you're able to do more, build extra endurance, and your post-workout total calorie burn will be higher.
You can reap these same benefits in other sports as well. It may improve your running or swimming, and might even help you lift those extra weights.
When using a stationary bike for HIIT, you're also working multiple parts of your body, some of which might be your "trouble" areas, such as core or thighs.
Best Stationary Bike For HIIT
There are three different stationary bike options that you can choose from. Each have their pros and cons, but it'll depend on you and what you're looking for.
- An indoor cycle is what you may see at your weekly spinning class. It's a very basic bike which is suitable for high intensity, as you are able to lean forward and get a better stance. However, it might be harder on your back.
- An upright bike is great if you suffer from back problems. It allows you to sit straight, much like an ordinary bike you would ride to work. However, you'll rest more of your body in the seat, so it's not as high intensity as the above.
- A recumbent bike is where you're able to sit back with your legs in front. This bike will focus more on your quads and, like an upright bike, does not allow for as high intensity when compared at the same level.
Here are a few good examples of stationary bikes you can use for HIIT:
- Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
- Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike
- Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike (read review)
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
Pick Your Time
Before you jump into it, it's essential to choose your times. These are the times for sprint and recovery. An easy example to follow would be 10 seconds sprint, 20 seconds rest. You can up the round to 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds rest if the former was too easy.
HIIT has to be high intensity. If you don't feel exhausted afterward, up the energy a notch. When you enter the sprint phase, pedal as hard as you possibly can, but keep the time short. The key is slowing your body down, and shock it with another round.
You should monitor your heart rate to get a better idea of the intensity. The easiest way is with a heart rate monitor. A general rule is to subtract your age from 220, and that’s your maximum heart rate. This will help you keep track of when you're at your highest.
If you need a heart rate monitor, you can find one here.
Following the sprint, you must give your body a little time to recover. This phase should not be too long or too short. Keep it within the same length as your sprint.
But you should know when to stop. Yes, you have to push yourself, but especially if you're a beginner, don't cross the line between moderately exhausted and severely exhausted. Instead, add an extra HIIT session during the week. When you feel stronger and more comfortable, then you can build up the intensity.
If you need some help getting started, below is a HIIT program for beginners for a stationary bike. Keep in mind that this can be tailored to your level if you find that it's too easy.
- Step One: Begin with a five-minute warmup. Stay at a steady pace with little resistance.
- Step Two: Start increasing the resistance about one to four increments. This should feel harder than your warmup, but not too intense. We'll call this your "baseline." Cycle at baseline for approximately three minutes.
- Step Three: Up the intensity a bit more to a moderate effort. This should feel harder than your baseline. Try for about two minutes.
- Step Four: Enter the recovery phase by decreasing speed and resistance. You should come back to baseline. Recover for about three minutes.
- Step Five: Increase once more above your baseline and give it your all. Go for two minutes.
- Step Six: Decrease the intensity and come back to baseline. Keep it for five minutes.
These cycles should be repeated for a total of at least 20 minutes. If you would like a visual of how to do HIIT, you can watch the video below:
Now we know a bit more about HIIT on a stationary bike. As stated earlier, it is perfect for building your endurance without venturing too far from your comfort zone when using a treadmill.
The key pointers are:
- Find your time and pace.
- Give it your all - but know your limits.
- Take a breather - keep it within range of your sprinting time.
If you have questions and/or advice you'd like to share, or if you have a favorite stationary bike for HIIT, please let us know in the comments!