Experts say you need to burn 400-500 calories weekly to lose weight. A 20-minute exercise bike ride at moderate intensity burns an average of 168 calories. This duration may be a good starting point if you do it 3 times per week, but too short for significant health improvements. Weight loss progress could take longer than expected, too.
Here’s what you need to know about what cycling for 20 minutes can do for you and how to make the most of it.
What Can a 20-Minute Exercise Bike Ride Do for My Health?
Riding the exercise bike for 20 minutes is not enough for an average person to lose weight and improve health. The effect is even lower if you have a sedentary lifestyle.
However, if you are active during the day and your diet is in order, 20 minutes of cycling is a good start. This routine can also provide these benefits.
1. Toned and stronger legs
Exercise bikes allow full-body workouts. However, much of the load goes to your leg and lower body muscles. It’s a good thing since the legs are one of the largest muscle groups.
Also, the more muscles involved in the workout, the more calories you burn, even while at rest.
If you’re into moderate sports activities, 20-minute exercise bike workouts should help improve your performance, too.
Keeping your legs active daily also lets you do everyday tasks without immediate soreness.
2. Healthy weight
Doing any physical activity burns calories. And so, if you spend 20 minutes on an exercise bike and stick to a healthy diet, you can keep the extra weight off.
It’s also an ideal routine to maintain a good belly size. When cycling to maintain a healthy weight, it’s best to boost your bike speed or resistance.
Wearing a heart rate monitor to pedal within your calorie-burning zone helps, too.
3. Better cardio fitness
Exercise bikes are excellent for cardio health. Indoor exercise bikes can improve your endurance and let you do daily activities without feeling immediately tired or out of breath.
Investing in your aerobic capacity by engaging in cardiovascular exercise early in life should protect you from various age-related health risks.
See exercise bike vs treadmill to compare.
How Long Should My Exercise Bike Workout Be for Best Results?
As I’ve mentioned, your workout duration relies on your fitness goals. But here are my suggestions.
Start with a 20-minute exercise bike session if you’re a beginner or have not been physically active for some time. This routine should help acclimate your body to more challenging workouts.
When ready, do a 30-minute cycling workout for five days a week.
This routine is enough to meet the CDC guidelines for adults. It’s also an ideal duration if you want to maintain or lose weight.
Then, consider boosting to 45-minute to 1-hour biking sessions if you want better weight loss outcomes. Alternatively, you can stick to a 30-minute program but incorporate strength training.
The main takeaway behind these recommendations is to increase your exercise duration and intensity to get better results.
Whichever your preferred workout session, always give your body time to rest and recover. Avoid overworking yourself and combine vigorous exercises with light, easy movements.
How Can I Maximise My 20-Minute Exercise Bike Routine?
Exercising for 20 minutes on a stationary bike may not provide considerable health benefits.
However, you can try one of these strategies to make short workouts effective, challenging and fun.
1. Level up your biking speed and resistance level.
Adding more physical effort to your exercise is the best way to boost caloric burn. Good thing you can easily do that by adjusting the speed or resistance of your bike.
Keep your adjustments in small increments, though. When you feel your cycling workout is too easy, adjust it to one or two levels higher.
Then, monitor your progress. Use a heart monitor to track the calories you burn every time you make workout adjustments.
2. Do interval training on a stationary bike.
HIIT or high-intensity interval training is the best way to optimise your cycling workouts if you cannot do hour-long sessions. With it, you get to perform short bursts of intense and vigorous exercise followed by a low-intensity active recovery.
On top of burning more calories within a short period, HIIT also boosts your metabolism post-workout and helps with fat loss. Short but intense workout sessions can also improve your endurance, aerobic capacity and cardio health. Check out these steps to start your HIIT on an exercise bike.
3. Use the built-in workouts of your exercise bike.
Most modern stationary bikes come with pre-set workout programs that you can try for free, even without an Internet connection.
Others, like the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Bike, work with compatible apps, allowing users to access extensive workout libraries. Some offer live classes and global workouts, too.
The best thing about these is that these programs suit specific fitness goals. They are also categorised based on different fitness capacities.
Rather than create personalised workouts each time, these built-in programs save time and add variety to your 20-minute exercise bike program.
4. Add strength training to your routine.
With leaner muscles, your resting metabolic rate also increases. That means you continue burning calories post-workout.
Try doing your strength or resistance training twice or thrice weekly, targeting one or several muscle groups you prefer.
Not all of us have the luxury of time to work for extended periods. However, a busy work schedule should not get in the way of your fitness goals.
Even a short 20-minute exercise bike session can do your body good. If this is all the time you can spare daily, you can always enhance it with higher speed, more resistance and strength training.
Don’t forget to eat well-balanced meals, too. Also, choose a stationary bike with features that should keep you motivated to exercise regularly.
We also wrote about how many calories can a-20 minute elliptical session burns as a comparison with an exercise bike routine.
1. I’m a stationary bike beginner. How do I get started?
For stationary bike beginners, start by familiarising yourself with your bike, adjusting it, doing moderate workouts, and gradually working your way up. But if you have any pre-existing health conditions, it’s best to consult your doctor first. After preparing your bike, study its display screen and workout data. And to keep yourself comfortable, wear a proper cycling shirt, shorts and shoes.
The best bike resistance level depends on your fitness capacity and preferred cycling exercise. For instance, low resistance simulates flat-road cycling, which is ideal for beginners and people with knee issues. Medium resistance is excellent for targeting the legs and glutes. Athletes who use their legs for their sport will benefit more from high-resistance settings.
3. How can I gain optimum stationary biking benefits?
To gain stationary biking benefits, adjust your bike settings and wear appropriate cycling gear for comfort. If you’re working out for 20 minutes, allocate time for warming up and cooling down. Also, observe the proper biking form throughout to avoid sore muscles or injury. Keep your body challenged by doing HIIT, too. Lastly, stay hydrated, play some music and have fun!
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