12 Exercise Bike Workouts for Getting Shredded

Exercise Bike Workouts

The exercise or stationary bike is one of the oldest workout machines. At first, exercise bikes were converted bicycles with “jacked up” the rear wheel so you could cycle in place. But, designs soon improved, and more effective exercise bikes emerged.

Along with the treadmill and rowing machine, exercise bikes soon became popular, and most gyms have several. Compared to riding a bike outdoors, exercise bikes provide a safe workout whatever the weather, and, as an added convenience, you can watch TV or listen to music to make the time pass more quickly.

There are many different exercise bike designs, including upright, recumbent, and models with large flywheels, fans, or electromagnetics for resistance. All of these variations are effective, and the best one is probably down to personal choice.

But, if there is one thing that all exercise bikes have in common, it is that riding one for more than a few minutes can become intensely boring.

After all, you get on, pedal, and that’s about it! Ten minutes is just about tolerable for most people, but much longer may soon become tedious.

Computer-led workouts and spin classes can help alleviate the monotony of riding an exercise bike. Still, not all bikes have built-in computers, and not all exercisers want to go to spin class.

In this article, we reveal the benefits of indoor cycling and provide you with 12 tried and tested workouts designed to put an end to exercise bike boredom.

The Benefits of Using an Exercise Bike

Benefits Exercise Bike

All types of cardio can be beneficial, but cycling can be especially advantageous for bodybuilders, powerlifters, and weightlifters. Reasons to make the indoor bike your cardio workout of choice include:

Easy to use

Workouts don’t come much more straightforward than hopping on an exercise bike and pedaling yourself fitter. Providing you adjust the seat to the correct height, you should be pretty comfortable and able to disengage your brain during your workout.

As such, stationary cycling is the ideal cardio workout after weights, when you may be too tired to do more challenging exercises but still want to burn a few extra calories with a finisher.

In contrast, using a rowing machine involves a more specialized, less straightforward technique, and it’s entirely possible to row with lousy form. This could lead to a painful back injury.

Low impact

People who lift weights are often more muscular and heavier than those who do not. Running is a popular form of cardio, but it also puts a lot of stress on your joints.

Knee Pain

When you run, your feet hit the floor with force equal to eight times your body weight. That’s a lot of force if you weigh 120lbs, and most strength trainers are considerably heavier than that!

Cycling is a low-impact activity which means there is much less joint stress to contend with. As such, it’s ideal for heavier exercisers and is much less likely to cause impact-related foot, ankle, knee, or hip problems. You can even do high-intensity sprints with minimal joint stress.

Improve your fitness

Like all cardio workouts, using an exercise bike will improve your cardiovascular fitness. Depending on how you use it, training on a bike will improve your aerobic or anaerobic fitness.

In general, increased cardiovascular fitness goes hand-in-hand with better cardiovascular health. As such, riding an exercise bike can help lower your risk of life-threatening issues such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

Burn calories and get lean

While the number of calories you’ll use during an exercise bike workout depends on the duration and intensity of your workout, combined with a caloric deficit, indoor cycling should help you lose weight and get lean.

Because you can easily adjust the difficulty, using an exercise bike is an excellent workout for all levels of exerciser, from very unfit beginners to much more advanced.

Pump up your quad

Work Your Quads

Competitive cyclists often have very muscular, defined legs – especially their quadriceps, which are the muscles on the front of the thigh. The “teardrop” quad, vastus medialis, is usually especially well-developed.

While indoor cycling won’t give you legs to rival the Quadfather Tom Platz, it may provide your leg development a welcome boost.

12 Exercise Bike Workouts to Try

While you could just jump on a bike and start pedaling, you’ll get better results if you follow a more structured plan.

Here are 12 of the best exercise bike workouts, all tried and tested just for you!

1. Tabata cycling

Assault Bike Tabata

Tabatas are a very short, sharp type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Invented by Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata, this workout method typically only lasts four minutes and was originally done using an exercise bike (1).

Don’t let this brevity fool you; a Tabata workout might only take four minutes, but it could be the most challenging four minutes of your life!

This workout is ideal for anyone who needs to burn fat and get fit but doesn’t have time for a longer workout. Tabatas are also great finishers that you can do at the end of your regular strength training workout to speed up fat loss.

As well as being an excellent conditioning workout, Tabatas are so intense that they could even produce hypertrophy in your quads.

To do the Tabata cycling workout:

  • Pedal for 20 seconds flat out (high resistance and speed)
  • 10 seconds rest (stop or pedal slowly)
  • Repeat eight times

Related: Simple guide to Tabata

2. Candy bar calorie burner

Junk food is depressingly high in calories. Despite being small and not very filling, even one candy bar can stop you from losing fat. This fun workout is designed to illustrate just how much exercise you need to do to burn off something like a single standard-sized Snickers Bar.

Hop on your exercise bike and burn 250 calories (the number of calories in an average candy bar) as fast as you can.

Knowing how much exercise is needed to work off the calories in a candy bar may be enough to stop you from cheating on your diet!

Related: Calories Burned Calculator By Exercises, Select Over 250 Exercises

3. Pedaling Cindy

Cindy Workouts Movements

Cindy is a popular bodyweight CrossFit workout. It works every major muscle in your body. This variation also includes 20 calories of cycling to increase your energy expenditure and add a welcome cardiovascular effect.

Do as many laps of the following as you can in 20 minutes. Or, if you are VERY fit, continue for 30 minutes.

  1. pull-ups
  2. 10 push-ups
  3. 15 air squats
  4. 20 calories on an exercise bike

4. 10-minute calorie cruncher

Short on time? Or just need a brutal but brief finisher after strength training? Try this straightforward but challenging workout. It’s over and done in ten minutes flat, but you’ll probably wish it was shorter!

  • Minute 1: Max calories
  • Minute 2: Rest
  • Minute 3: Max calories
  • Minute 4: Rest
  • Minute 5: Max calories
  • Minute 6: Rest
  • Minute 7: Max calories
  • Minute 8: Rest
  • Minute 9: Max calories
  • Minute 10: Rest

Add up the total number of calories from each work interval and try to beat that number next time.

5. 30/30 cycle and swing intervals

Kettlebell Swings

Of all the exercises you can do with a kettlebell, swings are arguably one of the best. Kettlebell swings work your entire posterior chain and core, and, like riding an exercise bike, they burn a lot of calories too.

This interval training workout combines these two awesome exercises for a 20-minute challenge that leaves no muscle untrained.

  • 30 seconds exercise bike sprint or hill climb
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • 30 seconds kettlebell swings for maximum reps
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat ten times to total 20 minutes

6. Nine-minute EMOM finisher

EMOM stands for Every Minute, On the Minute. It’s a very versatile method that can be used for strength and cardio training. At only nine minutes long, this is a great way to finish a strength training workout, which is where its name comes from. Or, you can use it as a short but sharp cardio workout whenever you don’t have more time available.

Just set a timer for 60-second repeats and get to work!

  • Minute 1: 10-sec sprint, 50-sec rest
  • Minute 2: 20-sec sprint, 40-sec rest
  • Minute 3: 30-sec sprint, 30-sec rest
  • Minute 4: 40-sec sprint, 20-sec rest
  • Minute 5: 50-sec sprint, 10-sec rest
  • Minute 6: 40-sec sprint, 20-sec rest
  • Minute 7: 30-sec sprint, 30-sec rest
  • Minute 8: 20-sec sprint, 40-sec rest
  • Minute 9: 10-sec sprint, 50-sec rest

Make keeping track of your workout easier by writing the details on a post-it note and sticking it to your handlebars for easy reference.

7. 10-mile time trial

A time trial is a race against the clock. In competitive cycling, the time trial is the truest test of a cyclist’s ability, as they must race alone and without things like pacing cars or teammates to support them.

The aim of a time trial is to cover the prescribed distance as fast as possible so that, when you cross the finish line, you feel that you could not have gone faster even if you wanted to.

So, for this workout, set your bike’s odometer to ten miles and try to cover that distance in the shortest possible time. Don’t go too fast too soon, or you may find yourself slowing down. Instead, set off at a fast but sustainable speed and then crank things up over the last few miles.

Alternatively, you can set a timer for 20-minutes and see how far you can travel in the allotted time. This may be a better option if you want to know exactly how long your workout will take.

8. Bike and push-ups

Intense Push Up Variations

Cycling only really works the muscles in your lower body, making it an incomplete workout. That’s easily remedied by adding some push-ups to your exercise bike training program. While you could just do a couple of sets of push-ups after you’ve finished cycling, this workout is a little more structured.

  • Cycle 60 seconds
  • AMRAP* push-ups in 60 seconds
  • Repeat 10-times to total 20 minutes

*AMRAP = As Many Reps as Possible: Just rep out to failure

Related: 15 Intense Push-Up Variations for Bodybuilders

9. EMOM hill climb ladder  

Ladder workouts feature incremental increases, so they gradually get harder as time goes on. This workout starts easy but will soon feel a lot tougher. The easy start means it’s got a built-in warm-up. Also, this workout is self-regulating in that your fitness (or lack of it!) will determine how long it lasts.

To do this workout, start pedaling at a low level of resistance. Every minute, on the minute, turn the resistance up by one increment. Continue until you are unable to continue.

Then, if you wish, you can decrease the resistance every minute until you get back to where you started. However, that’s an optional extra if you want a longer workout.

10. Three-level interval workout

Most interval training workouts alternate between periods of work and rest. This one’s a little different in that there are three levels of intensity to negotiate.

For this workout, you’ll be using RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) to determine how hard you’ll be working. Simply put, you’ll base the level of your workout on how you feel.

The RPE scale runs from 1-10, with one being very easy and ten being extremely hard. With this scale in mind, you should be able to adjust your workout to any RPE.

Repeat the following sequence eight times to total 24 minutes:

  1. 1 minute @ RPE 5 – fairly easy
  2. 1 minute @ RPE 7 – quite hard
  3. 1 minute @ RPE 9 – almost flat out

11. The agony ladder

With the agony ladder workout, the intervals get shorter as you get tired, but you should also do your best to increase your speed because you don’t have to pedal for as long. Taking just under 30-minutes from start to finish, this is an excellent workout for anyone who typically finds longer workouts boring.

  • Ride hard for 12 minutes (e.g., 14mph)
  • Rest 3 minutes (pedal slowly – don’t stop)
  • Ride hard for 8 minutes (e.g., 17mph)
  • Rest 2 minutes (pedal slowly – don’t stop)
  • Ride hard for 4 minutes (e.g., 20 mph)
  • Done!

12. Cycle and squat quad killer

Cycling is already a great exercise for your quads, but this short, intense bike workout is even more quad-centric as it combines cycling with air squats to absolutely hammer your legs into submission.

Storm through the following sequence as fast as you can. Use the highest bike resistance level you can but feel free to adjust it downward as your legs begin to tire.

  • 2-minutes cycling
  • 50 air squats
  • 90-seconds cycling
  • 40 air squats
  • 60-seconds cycling
  • 30 air squats
  • 45-seconds cycling
  • 20 air squats
  • 30-seconds cycling
  • 10 air squats

Make keeping track of your workout easier by writing the details on a post-it note and sticking it to your handlebars for easy reference.

Bike Workouts  – Wrapping Up

Go into any gym, and you’ll probably find an empty stationary bike you can use. A lot of home exercisers have stationary bikes, too. However, exercise bikes are often underappreciated and underused despite this widespread availability.


Because indoor bike workouts can be a bit of a snooze-fest!

Yes, you could join a spin class and do a workout led by an instructor, but that’s not always possible or practical. After all, spin classes usually last an hour and run at scheduled times. And then there’s the music and all that Lycra to contend with, too!

Instead, breathe new life into stationary cycling with these 12 proven workouts. Each one is short yet intense and provides plenty of variety to ward off boredom.


1 – PubMed: Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8897392/


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