Use This Machine For Your Best High-Cardio, Low-Impact Workout Yet 

Photo: Getty Images/JGI/Tom Grill
Growing up, I loved riding my bike. Right after school, I’d pedal up and down the street, dodging cars and speeding down empty driveways. Nowadays, most of the bikes I ride don't move an inch from where they're planted. Given the popularity of stationary bikes like SoulCycle and Peloton, I know I'm not alone. Whether you're looking for a high-intensity, in-your-face workout—or something a little more low-tech on a foldable exercise bike—stationary bike workouts may be just what your body needs. Below, Chevy Laurent, a certified personal trainer and the founder of RydeFYR Indoor Cycling Experience in Hermosa Beach, California, explains why taking a spin on a stationary bike might be the best high-cardio, low-impact workout you can do.

It's easy cardio

To be clear, workouts on a stationary bike are not easy, but these machines do make it easier for you to get your heart pumping. Aerobic, or cardiovascular, workouts like cycling improve the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body, strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. These workouts can give you everything from more energy and better sleep to lower stress levels and a stronger immune system—and you can go as intense (or not) as you please. “I always like to remind my clients: You are in complete control of your workout," Laurent says. "You control how fast you pedal and your resistance. I give strong suggestions about what to do to optimize your workout. But, at the end of the day, it’s your workout.”

It's low-impact

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have Megan Thee Stallion knees, so I appreciate workouts that give my joints a break. “Stationary bike workouts are amazing for everyone at all levels of fitness,” says Laurent. “It’s a great, low-impact cardio workout that gets your heart rate pumping while strengthening your mind and body.” Stationary bikes get your legs moving within their range of motion. These workouts use smooth movements to strengthen bones and joints without putting much pressure on them. While still a challenge, stationary bikes are kinder to your body than high-impact exercises like running, jogging, or jumping.


You'll strengthen your lower body

Here’s how to get killer calves: pedal. Pedaling, especially on a higher resistance, can help strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and quads. This movement can also work the muscles in your abdomen, back, and glutes. And if you think you'll automatically develop the kind of rippling muscles usually seen on an action figure, Laurent says that it all depends on the way you train. "Gaining lower body strength and increasing muscle endurance does not necessarily mean that your leg or thigh muscles will become bulky," she says.


You can make it unique

Whether you like to put the pedal to the metal or take leisurely rides, you can make your next stationary bike workout completely your own. Mix up your workouts by trying out a different style of stationary bike. (Upright, perhaps—or will you choose dual-action? Your call.) You can work out alone or join a virtual or IRL class. With the stationary bike, the options and benefits are limitless.

Of course, finding the right coach or leader can make all the difference. Laurent says, “You should feel their authentic vibe, and it should resonate with you through their voice, words, music, and coaching style." For instance, she says, if you don't like hearing instructions barked out, you might not "click" with someone who yells them. "Some people love that; many others don't," she says. "Whatever you do, don’t let the wrong coach be the reason you give up on cycling altogether. You may like it more, or even fall in love with it, if you’re coached by someone else who plays music you love, or someone who just has a more gentle vibe." Similarly, think about what type of cycling you like. Do you want to compete or just have fun? Do you prefer rhythm-based sessions or drills? "It’s all about finding the right format and coach for you," Laurent says. Once that happens, don't be surprised if you become a cyclist… without leaving your home.

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