Exercise bikes are extremely efficient pieces of kit, capable of far more than a decent warm-up to a dumbbell workout. Most upright exercise bikes come pre-programmed with a variety of different workout routines. Your goals could be to burn fat, increase cycling speed, enhance endurance or even increase leg strength. Whatever results you’re seeking, we’re here to help you find a training programme that aligns with you and your fitness goals. This article will also show you how to properly set up your exercise bike for optimal performance.
Before you jump on and start pedalling there is one small matter to attend to first, the saddle. If you set the saddle too low, you are putting your knee joints at risk of injury. Alternatively, if you end up setting the saddle too high you’ll only succeed in dismantling the effectiveness of your workout. Every time you pedal, you’ll consistently be overreaching which essentially impedes the overall efficiency of your workout.
The best way to gauge how far up the saddle should be is to adjust the saddle to be the same height as your hips. Then sit down on the saddle and ensure your leg is fully extended on the bottom of your pedal stroke.
The next order of business is to adjust the handlebars to the appropriate position. Some upright exercise bikes don’t come with adjustable handlebars, so disregard this section if that is the case. But if they do, start out by adjusting them to be level with the seat. This is not necessarily the perfect position for everyone, but it’s a good starting point to get a feel for your best position. Over time you will find what works best for your upright bike training. Everyone, however, should have their seat far enough away from the handlebars so that the front of your knees sit above the middle of the pedal. Once you’ve found the perfect positioning, warm up by doing some cycling stretches and before you know it you’ll be ready to start riding.
Please Note: These instructions are intended for an upright exercise bike, not a spin bike.
Most exercise bikes will follow a certain structure when it comes to their workout programmes, Below are four common types of exercise bike programmes that many exercise bikes have built-in.
This type of upright exercise bike workout will have you training at your maximum aerobic capacity, for as long as possible. This is great for taking your physical capabilities to the next level. The aim is to increase your aerobic capacity, as well as your speed and endurance. By consistently training outside your comfort zone, you will force your body to get stronger, faster and fitter.
This workout is built exactly how it sounds. You will be tasked with a gradual increase of intensity that simulates climbing a hill. This type of exercise bike workout is mainly geared towards building leg strength. As the accumulated pressure that you put on your legs steadily increases, so does your lower body strength.
Upright exercise bike workouts that follow this structure will see the user increasing the intensity of their workout steadily, not dissimilar to hill climb programmes. However, once you reach a certain point, you reduce the intensity. Just as if you’re descending back down the hill. These workouts hold all the benefits of the hill programmes, but additionally, the decrease in difficulty means you can maintain a higher cadence (the number of revolutions your pedals make per minute). By staying at a higher cadence, you place more stress on your cardiovascular system instead of your leg muscles. This means you’ll greatly increase your cardiovascular fitness if the higher cadence is maintained for long enough.
Interval workouts on an upright exercise bike involve bursts of extreme effort to intervals of lower intensity. They are easily recognised by the contrasting resistance levels situated throughout the workout. Interval training is known to be the most efficient form of cardio as it puts the body under greater stress than just cycling continuously at the same intensity. This style of exercise bike workout improves both your aerobic capacity and anaerobic capacity, which increases your power and the amount of oxygen your body can use whilst you cycle. It also burns more fat compared to the other workouts.
The Cyclo-Go has a total of 21 workout programmes, all of which either match aformentioned programme types or a combine these types to make new ones.
You manually change the resistance levels to your liking in manual mode.
An interval type that varies between low and medium resistance over the course of the entire workout. It climbs first, then lowers, climbs and then lowers and climbs again.
This programme functions as an inverted pyramid programme. You start at a fairly high resistance, which steadily drops. Eventually, once you’ve reached the halfway point, you climb the resistance levels until the end of the workout.
This programme functions as a hybrid between a threshold and a pyramid programme. Firstly, making you climb resistance levels. Once you’re halfway through you must maintain your efforts at the same level of medium resistance for a while, just as you would with a traditional threshold programme. Then you descend in resistance levels towards the end, like a traditional pyramid workout.
This one works just like a pyramid workout, the only difference is you start at a higher resistance level beforehand. Once you’ve completed the higher resistance level, the rest is just a pyramid programme.
This programme works as a pyramid type, however, the resistance levels only climb up to medium at the most.
As its name states, this programme is simply a traditional interval type programme.
Another interval type programme, these intervals only climb just above medium levels.
A threshold type programme that at first makes you climb from medium resistance to high resistance. You must maintain this high level for most of the workout however in the last section, resistance decreases.
A traditional hill type programme that takes you close to the bike’s maximum resistance levels.
A threshold type programme that slightly alters its resistance levels twice throughout the workout.
A watt control type training programme. In a similar way to heart rate training, you can use watt training to set a target workload to work within. By knowing the watts you regularly produce, you can aim to improve on your regular watt production.
Four different heart rate training programmes. Each one makes you train at a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate.
Custom workout programmes for different users to tailor a workout to them and their personal goals or abilities.
This programme allows you to measure your body fat percentage.
Please Note: These programmes are listed in the same order as the exercise bike's computer console display
19 Programmes are available for the Cyclo 5, once again, these programmes will encompass all the types described previously with slight variations.
Threshold type workout with occasional spikes in resistance levels.
This programme is an interval type, intervals climb resistance levels off, then drops. Then they climb and drop again.
A hill type programme that is split into two hills. The first of which makes you climb through all the resistance levels, then drops down to no resistance. Afterwards, the second hill makes you climb up to half of the bike's resistance levels.
This programme is a pyramid type, it gradually increases in intensity. But instead of dropping steadily, this programme drops resistance levels drastically by the third and fourth quarter of the programme.
Another pyramid type programme, this one is more of a traditional one unlike the previous. After the gradual climb in intensity, there is a steady decrease.
A hill-climbing programme that maintains its spikes in resistance for longer than usual. The time spent at each spike reduces the further you progress.
An interval programme that first fluctuates between no resistance and medium, to high resistance levels.
Pyramid style workout programme that does not reach the maximum level of resistance, unlike the previous.
A programme that functions like a mix between a threshold type and an interval type. Intervals get more difficult as the workout progresses.
Another threshold type programme. Resistance levels do fluctuate - however the spikes in resistance last for a considerable amount of time, causing fatigue.
An interval type programme that only spikes in resistance twice. The first of which spikes to a medium level, the second spikes to the bike’s maximum level.
Another interval type, this programme varies between maximum resistance and no resistance.
Heart rate training programme.
Watt Training Programme.
Manual Training programme.
Custom user programme #1.
Custom user programme #2.
Custom user programme #3.
Custom user programme #4.
Please Note: These programmes are listed in the same order as the exercise bike's computer console display
By taking your maximum heart rate into account, you can improve your endurance by leaps and bounds. Most upright exercise bikes should have a function that allows you to monitor your heart rate to participate in heart rate training. Usually, it will be through the metallic handles that measure your heart rate. Another way to monitor your heart rate is wirelessly using a heart rate monitor. By training in your higher heart rate zones, you will dramatically improve your aerobic fitness.
This is where your level of endurance derives from. Heart rate zones that are above 80% of your maximum heart rate are considered to be of the higher bracket. Exercising within these zones will boost your ability to recover at a faster rate, improving the functionality of your aerobic energy system.
Pedal for 5 minutes at a light pace
Pedal at 50% - 60% of your maximum heart rate.
Pedal harder, reaching 60% - 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Continue to pedal at a harder pace, you should be aiming to get to 70% - 80% of your heart rate.
Pedal at an intense rate, at this level you should be reaching 80% - 90% of your maximum heart rate.
Pedal slower, let your heart rate drop to 60% - 70%, then go one back up to 80% - 90%. Keep increasing your intensity until your heart rate is above 90%, then go back to 60% - 70%. Do this for 8 minutes and then once you're done repeat this process for another 10 minutes.
Cycle for 5 minutes at a steady pace.
If your goal is to increase your speed, you must practice cycling at a higher cadence. As mentioned previously, cadence is the number of revolutions your pedals make per minute. Another factor that often comes into play is your ability to push yourself hard for long periods, followed by quick recoveries so that you can push yourself again.
To put both of these factors into practice, the following upright exercise bike workout focuses on regularly raising your cadence levels. There will also be recovery periods to test your ability to recover and your capability to return to the higher cadence levels afterwards.
Cycle for 10 mins at a low cadence & resistance.
Cycle at a medium resistance and cadence (80 to 100 revolutions per minute). At every minute marker, sprint for 6 seconds and focus on achieving a high cadence.
Maintain the same resistance. Pedal fast to achieve a higher cadence for 1 minute, then pedal at a lower cadence for 1 minute. Alternate between these two cadences for 10 minutes. When you’re pedalling fast you should be at 80% - 90% of your maximum heart rate.
At the same medium resistance level, cycle steadily for 10 minutes, during the final 5 minutes slow down and cycle at a low cadence.
Leg day’s dreaded aftermath can leave you with some excruciating aches and pains. But many will be surprised to learn that you can aid the recovery of your lower body with an upright exercise bike. This upright exercise bike workout is carried out at a slow pace and is done over a relatively long period of time. A lengthy workout that’s steady will pump blood and nutrients into the leg muscles. This will also flush away any waste products that are present due to exercises of high intensity, reducing the aches and pains.
Cycle steadily to warm up, do this at a light resistance.
Come off the bike and then proceed to do 10 minutes of mobility work. Choose any leg stretches you want, but ensure that they activate your quads, hamstrings and calves.
For the next 45 minutes pedal steadily, you’ll want to be reaching only 40 - 60% of your maximum heart rate. Keep your steady pace consistent and controlled.
It’s not uncommon to believe that just cycling for long periods of time will effectively burn fat, but in comparison to this next workout, such a method is inefficient. This upright exercise bike workout focuses on high-intensity sprints that will effectively force your body to dig into its fat reserves for energy.
Cycle for 5 minutes at a low cadence and low resistance.
Now pedal at a high cadence but maintain the low resistance.
Switch it up, cycle at a low cadence but a high resistance.
For these 4 minutes, you will partake in Tabata style sprints. For 20 seconds push yourself as hard as possible, follow this up with 10 seconds of recovery. Repeat a total of 8 times.
For the next 5 minutes, cycle at a low cadence and resistance.
This upright exercise bike workout is helpful if you’re short on time. Maybe you’re on a lunch break, or you maybe you need to do the school run. Whatever the case, even if you're running short on time you can still burn a signifacnt amount of calories in 15 minutes. With this workout you can ensure that you stay fit and healthy on a busy schedule.
For 5 minutes, aim for speed by cycling at a high cadence with low resistance.
Continue to cycle quickly for the next 5 minutes, alternate between sitting and standing every 30 seconds.
Turn up the resistance and cycle as quickly as possible for 1 minute, this will be your final push.
For the next 4 minutes, cycle steadily whilst slowly decreasing the resistance level until it’s off.
The following upright exercise bike workout is another Tabata style interval workout. You will work within 20 seconds intervals of extreme effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery. A workout such as this will improve your aerobic and anaerobic capacity simultaneously. Sharpening both your power and endurance within a short period of time.
For 5 minutes, cycle at a fast pace with a low resistance level.
Cycle for 20 seconds with medium resistance, afterwards lower the resistance for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times, then recover for 1 minute by cycling at a low resistance. Repeat this step 3 more times.
During these next 5 minutes warm down by cycling slowly - slowly remove the resistance until it’s completely off.
This workout functions mostly as interval training, as you will be switching resistance and cadence numerous times. But this workout also works as a light upper body workout when you add a pair of light dumbbells.
Warm-up for 5 minutes by pedalling at a fast speed with a low resistance.
Stand up in the saddle and proceed to cycle whilst standing for the next 5 minutes. Do this at a medium speed and resistance.
Switch to light resistance, then proceed to cycle as fast as possible for 2 minutes. After that, sit down on the saddle and cycle at the same pace and resistance for 3 minutes. Add a little bit more resistance and then repeat this step.
Cycle standing once again for 1 minute, do this on a high resistance level at a fast pace.
Sit back down on the saddle and cycle fast for 3 minutes but dial down the resistance to a light level.
Go back to standing whilst pedalling for 5 minutes at a medium pace with high resistance.
Sit down again and cycle for 2 minutes at a medium pace with light resistance. Whilst doing this grab your dumbbells and do some dumbbell curls.
Speed up and cycle with light resistance for the next 5 minutes.
Add resistance steadily whilst maintaining that fast pace for 4 minutes.
Take off all resistance so that you can warm down, do this for 5 minutes. Slowly steady your pace as you get towards the end.