10 Stationary Bike Workouts for Every Fitness Level

Woman in fitness clothing smiles on a stationary bike.

@myxfitness via @missalexlarosa/Unsplash

No piece of exercise equipment can offer you a full-body workout, a dripping full-body sweat, and a compact size like a stationary bike can. For these reasons, the popularity of stationary bikes has grown immensely in recent years, as more and more exercisers look to work out from home while achieving studio- or gym-level results. With the convenience of an at-home stationary bike, you can go for a ride anytime, and for any duration. Because they're free of impact, these bikes are safe for most beginners, and because you can also go really, really hard if you want to, they're challenging for even the most advanced gym buffs.

To help you get the best bike workout no matter what your fitness level, I was incredibly excited to talk with trainers for the bike system I personally use, MYX Fitness. I love its system for the ability to choose my workouts by both duration and intensity, which makes you able to get exactly the ride you're looking for. And as someone who has experienced a general lack of inclusivity in fitness, I appreciate immensely that their trainers are diverse in age, body size, gender expression, and style. Here's what trainers Miriam Alicea, Jesse Barton, and Dyan Tsiumis recommend as their favorite stationary bike workouts for every level.

Cycling Terminology

  • RPE is your rate of perceived exertion. The scale is from 1 to 10. One means little to no activity, and 10 means very hard, strenuous physical activity.
  • RPMs are revolutions per minute, which is how fast your pedal strokes are. A cadence of 60 RPM equals one pedal making a complete revolution 60 times per minute. 
  • A "saddle" is a bike seat.

Safety and Precautions

When setting up your stationary bike, it's vital that it's adjusted to fit your size. Failing to change the settings to suit your body could result in injury. Cycling is a no-impact exercise that is safe for anyone free of injuries. If you experience lower-back pain or have other health concerns, speak to your practitioner before trying it.

01 of 10

10-Minute Beginner HIIT Ride

  • 1-minute warm-up: Tsiumis says to use light resistance on a flat road, with a quick, easy tempo.
  • 4-minute block: Increase your resistance to 3–5, and slow your pace slightly from warm-up. For 15 seconds, push your speed.
  • Return to 45 seconds of recovery at your base tempo. Tsiumis tells us that you have the option to recover out of the saddle, though you can do the entire ride in it if that's more comfortable.
  • Repeat the set four times.
02 of 10

30-Minute Beginner Endurance Ride

  • 3-minute warm-up: Barton instructs us to ride on a flat road, with very light resistance, at a steady pace.
  • 1 minute: Increase your resistance to moderate and maintain a steady pace.
  • 1 minute: Keep your resistance at moderate and steady, but ride out of the saddle.
  • 1 minute: Return to the saddle and maintain the same steady pace.
  • 30 seconds: Get back out of the saddle, keeping resistance and pace.
  • 2 minutes: Get back in the saddle, keeping your pace and resistance.
  • 30 seconds: Get back out of the saddle, keeping resistance and pace.
  • Repeat the above, from the first 1 minute to the final 30 seconds, four times.
  • 3 minutes: Cool down on a flat road, with very light resistance.
03 of 10

15-Minute Intermediate Warm-Up Ride

  • 3-minute initial warm-up: Sustain RPMs between 80–90 at moderate resistance, with RPE of 2–3.
  • 5-minute block: Increase your resistance. Alicea says to sustain RPMs between 70–80, and to alternate riding in and out of the saddle every minute, with RPE of 4–6.
  • 4-minute block: Decrease your resistance. Increase and sustain RPMs between 80–90, with RPE of 4–6. Alicea suggests alternating riding in and out of the saddle every 30 seconds.
  • 3-minute cooldown: Decrease your resistance further, and sustain RPMs between 60–70, with RPE of 2–3.
04 of 10

20-Minute Intermediate HIIT Ride

  • 5-minute warm-up: Ride at a moderate pace with an intensity of RPE 4–6.
  • 5-minute block: Alicea says to "perform fast push efforts out of the saddle and recoveries at a moderate pace in the saddle. Aim for a breathless, uncomfortable effort in your pushes. The goal is to match/sustain your effort on every push (RPE 7–8)." The series is:

30-second push

60-second recovery

30-second push

60-second recovery

30-second push

60-second recovery

30-second push

  • 2:30-minute recovery: Ride at an easy pace and intensity, with RPE of 2–3.
  • 4:30-minute block: Alicea advises us that these "push efforts will decrease in length as you move through the block," noting that "the goal is to increase your speed/intensity as the intervals get shorter. Aim for near max effort on your push intervals (RPE 8–9)." The sequence is:

50-second push

45-second recovery

40-second push

45-second recovery

30-second push

45-second recovery

15-second push

  • 3-minute cooldown: Ride at an easy pace and intensity, with RPE of 2–3.
05 of 10

30-Minute Intermediate HIIT Ride

  • 3:30-minute warm-up: Ride on a flat road with very light resistance.
  • 5-minute block: Barton tells us to repeat the following 5 times:

40-second sprint at moderate resistance

40 seconds with a slower pace at moderate resistance

  • 9-minute block: Repeat the following 6 times:

45-second steady pace at moderate resistance in the saddle

45-second steady pace at heavy resistance out of the saddle

  • 9-minute block: Repeat the following 9 times:

20-second steady pace at moderate resistance

40-second sprint at moderate resistance

3:30 cooldown: Ride on a flat road with very light resistance and easy pedaling.

06 of 10

30-Minute Intermediate Rhythm Ride

  • 4-minute warm-up: Ride on a flat road, staying in the saddle, with resistance of 2– 3.
  • 3:30-minute block: Increase your resistance to 4–5, and alternate in/out of the saddle every 30 seconds.
  • 3-minute block: Increase your resistance to 6–8. Tsiumis says to be out of the saddle 60 seconds, then in the saddle 30 seconds, and to repeat that twice so that you finish out of the saddle at the top of the hill.
  • 4:30-minute block: Decrease your resistance to 4–5 . Ride in the saddle for 60 seconds, then out of the saddle for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
  • 2-minute block: Ride at a strong resistance of 7–9 out of the saddle.
  • 1 minute: Return to the saddle, keeping pace.
  • 1 minute: Get back out of the saddle, keeping pace.
  • 2 minutes: Lighten your resistance down to 3–5. Tsiumis tells us you can be in or out of the saddle.
  • 3-minute block: Increase your resistance back to 7–9. Ride 3 seconds in the saddle and 30 seconds out, for the duration.
  • 2-minute block: Increase your speed, in or out of the saddle.
  • 4-minute cooldown: Lighten your resistance to 2–3. Use your breath to slow your heart rate.
07 of 10

45-Minute Advanced Rhythm Ride

Alicea says to "allow the beat of the music to dictate your pace and resistance," and "the goal is to hold on to the rhythm throughout the ride."

  • 3-minute warm-up: Ride on a flat road with light resistance, at 90–105 rpms.
  • 8-minute climb: Ride at a heavy resistance with a steady climb at 60–70 rpms.
  • 3-minute block: Lighten your resistance and ride at 90–105 rpms. Alicea says to "hold the rhythm in the saddle, allow yourself to recover."
  • 4-minute block: Cycle at moderate resistance and 70–80 rpms. Move in and out of the saddle as desired.
  • 2:30-minute climb: Using heavy resistance, ride at a steady climb of 60–70 rpms, Do two 30-second pushes during this time.
  • 3:20-minute recovery: Ease your resistance down to light and ride at 90–105 rpms. Stay in the saddle.
  • 2:40-minute jog: Increase to moderate resistance and lower pace to 70–80 rpms.
  • 3:30-minute climb: Use heavy resistance to ride at a steady climb, at 60–70 rpms. Alicea instructs us to "challenge yourself to make this your heaviest climb thus far."
  • 3-minute climb: Reduce resistance very slightly. Perform three 15-second pushes throughout this time.
  • 3:30-minute block: Use light resistance and a speed of 90–105 rpms as you recover in the saddle.
  • 3:30-minute climb: Return to heavy resistance and a speed of 60–70 rpms. Move in and out of the saddle as desired.
  • 3:30-minute jog: Lighten your resistance and perform two 40-second pushes during this time.
  • 2-minute cooldown: Lower resistance further, and ride at an easy pace.
08 of 10

60-Minute Advanced Climb Ride

This workout can be conducted in or out out of the saddle—Tsiumis says it's "rider's choice." Feel free to mix it up throughout, changing positions as needed.

  • 5-minute warm-up: Ride on a flat road, with 1–3 resistance and an easy pace.
  • 7-minute block: Increase resistance to 3–5, with a quick pace.
  • 5-minute block: Increase resistance to 5–7, with a moderate pace.
  • 2-minute block: Increase resistance to 7–9, with a heavy, slow pace.
  • 3-minute block: Decrease resistance down to 2–3, with a quick pace.
  • 5-minute block: Increase resistance to 4–6, with a moderate pace.
  • 7-minute block: Increase resistance 6–8 out of 10, with a moderate pace.
  • 3-minute block: Increase resistance to 8–9, with a heavy, slow pace.
  • 2-minute block: Decrease resistance to 2–3, with a quick pace.
  • 4-minute block: Increase resistance to 3–5, with a moderate pace.
  • 7-minute block: Increase resistance to 5–7, with a moderate pace.
  • 3-minute block: Increase resistance to 7–9, with a heavy, slow pace.
  • 2-minute block: Increase resistance to 8–10 with a heavy, slow pace.
  • 5-minute cooldown: Decrease resistance to 2–3, with an easy pace.
09 of 10

20-Minute Advanced HIIT Ride

  • 5-minute warm-up: Ride at a moderate pace, with an intensity of 4–6.
  • 4-minute block: Tsiumis instructs us to "perform fast push efforts out of the saddle and recoveries at a moderate pace in the saddle. Aim for near max effort in your pushes," with an RPE of 8–9. For these 4 minutes, do the following:

15-second push

30-second recovery

30-second push

30-second recovery

45-second push

30-second recovery

60-second push

  • 2-minute recovery: Slow to an easy pace, with an easy intensity of RPE 2-3.
  • 2-minute block: Stand out of the saddle. Alicea says to add resistance every 30 seconds, progressively making it heavier to get back to a moderate pace/intensity of RPE4-6." She says that "this will help establish the resistance you will work with in your final block.
  • 4-minute block of speed tabata: Alicea instructs us to "alternate between high- and low-intensity efforts perform all efforts in the saddle. Use speed and/or resistance to vary intensity." For these 4 minutes, do the following:

20-second push at 70% of max effort, RPE 7

10-second recovery

20-second push at 70% of max effort, RPE 7

10-second recovery

20-second push at 80% of max effort, RPE 8

10-second recovery

20-second push at 80% of max effort, RPE 8

10-second recovery

20-second push at 90% of max effort, RPE 9

10-second recovery

20-second push at 90% of max effort, RPE 9

10-second recovery

20-second push at 100% of max effort, RPE 10

10-second recovery

20-second push at 100% of max effort, RPE 10

10-second recovery

  • 3-minute cooldown: Slow to an easy pace and intensity, with RPE of 2–3.
10 of 10

All-Level 20-Minute Recovery Ride

  • 2-minute warm-up: Pedal easily without resistance at a steady pace.
  • 3 minutes: Increase to light resistance and keep your steady pace.
  • 2 minutes: Increase to moderate resistance and keep your steady pace.
  • 2 minutes: Return to light resistance with the same steady pace.
  • 1:30 minutes: Keep the light resistance, but Barton instructs us here to increase pace to a faster one.
  • 2 minutes: Increase to moderate resistance and keep your steady, faster pace.
  • 30 seconds: Get out of the saddle, without changing any settings.
  • 2 minutes: Return to the saddle, with moderate resistance and a steady pace.
  • 2-minute cooldown: End with a flat road, with very little resistance.

No matter what your fitness level, there's a stationary ride that's perfect for you. These rides range immensely in duration, complexity, and difficulty. If you're new to riding a stationary bike, start slow with a short, beginner's level ride. If you're already an advanced rider, try one of these more challenging rides—the full 60-minute and climb-intensive ones are sure to have you thoroughly worked out.

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