Sit Down, Stand Up: Maximize Your Stationary Bike Workout

Even if running is your primary sport, indoor cycling can be an attractive diversion from the norm. Not only would some time on the bike give you interesting variety in your workouts but mixing things up could also help you avoid injury. Particulary if you’ve recently strained your calves or are just worried about doing so, the bike might be worth considering.

A recent study, sponsored by the American Council on Exercise,  explored various approaches to indoor cycling, including weighted vests and standing, with the ultimate goal of building more and more effective routines. Their findings offer game-changing insight on how to make the most of your cycling bouts and how to best use these techniques.


Study Structure

The subject pool consisted of 12 female cyclists who each performed four 4-minute long trials, while standing and wearing a weighted vest. The weight of the vest was either 5, 10 or 15 percent of the subject’s body weight. Each subject also performed 4-minute trials while seated to act as a control by setting a baseline for their heart rate and calorie expenditure.

Not surprisingly, standing vastly increased the caloric burn of a cycling session and these effects were increased even more when the subjects wore heavier and heavier vests.


In Practice

To add an extra boost to your cycling, consider giving a weighted vest a try. Remember that a heavier vest produces a more challenging cardiovascular workout, so don’t treat the weight like it’s a strength routine. Since many weighted vests have adjustable weights, start out light and work your way up.

In addition to the vest, periodically stand during your ride. Stand for about 2 to 3 minutes, while maintaining your pace. The length of your seated intervals depends on your fitness level and how difficult you want your workout to be. For example, if you use 2 minute standing intervals and 10 minutes of sitting, you would only stand twice in a 30 minute workout. But if you shorten it to 5 minutes down and 2 minutes up, you’ll be standing much more frequently, adding more of a challenge.




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About jonathan.thompson

Jonathan Thompson is a Certified Personal Trainer and Running Coach with the American Council on Exercise, specializing in nutrition. In addition to his real-world experience working with clients, his articles and blogs on fitness advice have been published on many websites and magazines.