The 30-Minute Stationary Bike Workout You Can Do On Your Own

Get the burn of a real cycling class — without paying $$$ — with this 30-minute stationary bike workout for beginners and experienced spinners alike.

30 Minute Stationary Bike Workout
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Can't get enough of group cycling classes? You're in good company. The popularity of stationary bike workouts continues to rise, and it's no wonder: A typical cycling workout has major benefits for your mind and body, which adds up with consistent indoor cycling practice.

When you can't make it to a studio workout — or if you just don't want to pay those boutique fitness prices — try this at-home stationary bike workout for beginners and experienced riders alike, created by cycling workout specialist Ruth Zukerman, the co-founder of both SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports. This 30-minute stationary bike workout combines heart rate–revving sprints and muscle-building climbs to deliver the punch of a studio session anytime, anywhere.

What to Know Before a Stationary Bike Workout

Before you even start pedaling, make sure your stationary bike is set up properly, advises David Robertson, a cycling instructor for Chicago Athletic Clubs and Fitness Formula Clubs in Chicago. "Proper setup is crucial for maximizing the benefits of the workout and preventing injury," he explains. "The general rule of thumb is that your seat should be at hip height, and handles should be at about the same height or an inch or two above the seat."

Next, understand the difference between cadence and resistance. "Cadence is the speed at which you are riding, often referred to as RPM (or revolutions per minute)," says Robertson. "When you increase your cadence or speed, you create more intensity as your legs pedal faster." Resistance, on the other hand, refers to the tension on the wheel of the bike — aka the pushback you feel while pedaling. "When you are dialing up your resistance on the bike, you are increasing resistance and making it harder for yourself to pedal, much like you might feel on an incline or hill on an outdoor bike," adds Robertson. And similar to cadence, increasing your resistance makes your stationary bike workout tougher.

In addition to adjusting the resistance on the bike and increasing or decreasing your cadence, you can use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to guide your effort level. In general, your RPE describes how hard you feel like your body is working while exercising. An RPE of 1, for example, would feel like an effortless walk in the park, while an RPE of 10 would feel like you're sprinting with all your might and can't utter a single word. So if you feel totally breathless during a portion of the workout with a recommended RPE of 3 or 4, don't be afraid to dial back on the speed or tension.

Finally, make sure you're comfortable with the different positions of your body when doing a stationary bike workout. In indoor cycling, "first position" refers to seated cycling, which you'll use for fast, flat roads (think: cadences of 100 RPM or more). "Second position" is similar to standing, with your hips lightly levitating over the seat, says Robertson. You'll hit second position for light resistance and moderate jogs at 70 to 90 RPM, and it's slightly more challenging for beginners since it requires more core stability. Lastly, third position will be used for heavy climbs at slow cadences. "Third position is also out of the saddle, but your hands reach farther up to the ends of the handlebars, you hinge forward at the hips and lengthen your spine," explains Robertson. "This position feels very athletic, with your hips right above the saddle, and you may feel the bike seat slightly touching your inner thighs."

To get the most out of your spin session and create that in-studio vibe, pair this stationary bike workout for beginners and pros with high-energy music — performing intervals to the chorus of your favorite songs — and you'll forget you're riding solo, guaranteed.

30-Minute At-Home Stationary Bike Workout

How it works: Save the following 30-minute stationary bike workout on your phone, pop in your fave workout headphones, and create your very own one-person spin class. Two to three days per week, complete this cycling workout all the way through, and as you progress, you'll notice that you're adding more resistance to maintain the RPE levels prescribed.

You'll need: A stationary bike (if you don't have one at home, you can always do this routine at the gym)

Try This 30-Minute Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners
Design: Mehroz Kapadia.
 Time (Mins) What to Do Speed (RPM) Tension  RPE
 0-4  Warm up: Stay seated with hands in second position.  Moderate (80)  Light  3-4
4-8  Increase resistance; stay seated for 1 min, stand for 1 min, then repeat. Moderate (70-80)  Moderate  5-6 
8-11  Decrease resistance and sit down with hands in second position.  Fast (85-100)  Light 
11-12  Stand up with hands in second position and jog.   Fast (85-100)  Light  5-6 
12-14  Sit down with hands in second position and increase resistance every 30 seconds.   Slow to moderate (50-70) Moderate to heavy  6-7 
14-17  Stand up with hands in third position and increase resistance every minute.  Slow (40-50)  Very heavy  7-9 
17-26  Repeat minutes 8-17.  Slow to fast (40-100)  Light to very heavy  5-9 
26-28  Decrease resistance; stand up with hands in second position and jog.  Very fast (100-125)  Light 
28-30  Cool down; sit down with hands in second position.  Moderate (80)  Light  3-4 
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