Cycling provides many advantages for runners. It is an excellent method to cross-train, as these exercises are non-impact and offer multiple aerobic benefits.
Cycling is not as hard on your body as running which means you will recover faster from these sessions.
Stationary bike exercises can benefit you as a runner for both training and recovery. It also assists with recovery in the way of flushing your legs out. For example, an easy spin involves no impact while allowing the circulation of blood around your muscles, which means there is more oxygen present which aids in the phase of recovery.
On the other hand, indoor cycling is also excellent for developing high-end aerobic training with intervals. It is also possible to retain most of your fitness with stationary bike riding when you sustain injuries.
If you are a runner that has never used cycling as a form of exercise before, it is easy to start by either renting or buying a stationary bike or visiting your local gym to attend one of the spin classes.
Here is a list of the best stationary bike workouts for runners:
Top 6 Exercise Bike Workouts for Runners
1. Working On Muscle Power
If you would like to reap the benefits of muscle workouts that cycling can provide, you will need to intensify and maximize each cycling session.
This translates into power workouts on a stationary bike and to find an accurate compromise between maximum resistance and a cadence that is reasonably fast. This means pedaling at a high resistance where you reach 80 to 100 RPM (revolutions per minute).
These workouts need to include speed work, which includes light resistance with an active-recovery of 100 to 120 RPM.
Below is one of the examples of these cycling sessions:
- 20 minutes of consistent endurance at a medium effort for your warm-up
- Four times 1.30 minutes of intense power cycling which will include 45 seconds of slower riding between each set to recover
- Eight 10-second power sprints
- End with 20 minutes of “speed work” to recover
2. Short Bursts Of Intense Efforts To Develop Speed
Increasing your overall heart rate to a maximum level while turning the pedals as fast as you can (cadence) will build speed.
Here is an example of this type of workout:
- First warm-up for 10 to 15 minutes
- The next step involves ten times 1-minute all-out, sprinting, best effort, as fast as you can possibly go (out of the saddle), with a 2-minute recovery of slower riding between each intensive minute
- Once you have completed these reps follow up with a 10 to 15-minute cool-down
3. Wheels Workout
- Begin with an easy, seated position 10-minute warm-up of pedaling
- Once you have completed the warm-up, ramp up the resistance so that you are still able to stand up and pedal between 75 and 90 RPM (revolutions per minute). Try to maintain this intensity for 30 to 60 seconds
- Reduce the resistance and slowly lower your revolutions, and pedal slower for 75 seconds while sitting down. Repeat this exercise 6 to 10 times
If you find this exercise routine too easy you can kick it up to the next level with this workout:
- Two times 30 seconds
- Two times 45 seconds
- Two times 60 seconds
Then, drop back down to a lower resistance
4. Speed Intervals
Intervals form an important part of all cycling training programs. These are classified as robust sessions designed to increase your power and aerobic capacity, which is ideal for runners that are pressed for time, who balance training with a busy life schedule.
This is is a workout that you can perform outdoors or indoors, although most runners prefer the indoor version as it offers a way to achieve more control when it comes to the pace along with the interval duration and lengths.
Here is an example of one of these workouts:
- Begin with an easy-paced 10-minute pedaling to warm up
- This exercise routine includes a minimum of 6 to 8 one-minute fast-pedal intervals as fast as you can go (nothing below 90% of your max)
- Between each fast-paced session, slow down to a moderate pace of easy pedaling with low resistance
- Once you have completed your last face-paced interval slow your riding down to medium pace for 5 minutes for your cool down
5. Go Further For Longer To Increase Endurance
A more reasonably-paced and longer ride will help to increase your endurance.
Here is the information that you need to achieve these workouts:
- These workouts involve an endurance training-zone that is quite specific. This is around 68% to 75% of your threshold heart-rate.
- 30 minutes at Zone 2 is not enough, as a low-intensity ride should have to go on for long enough to achieve an adequate impact as time and intensity closely correlate.
- If you usually only ride for 1 hour, then you would need to ride for 2.5 hours at your “endurance zone”, which provides enough time in order to improve your overall endurance.
6. Increase Your Training Volume
If you are currently preparing for a trail run or even a marathon, indoor cycling is one of the best exercise routines to work on your muscle fatigue.
However, it is important that you are aware that cycling should not replace your running training as it does not help you to achieve the same types of muscle workouts
For instance, you could cycle for 50 minutes to an hour before a run which will help to develop muscle fatigue, which would help you to intensify your runs along with simulating the conditions that runners often experience during longer races. You could also use a stationary bike for a high-exercise weekend.
Here is an example:
- A training session of running on a Friday
- 80 minutes of interval training cycling on a Saturday
- A long and intensive run on a Sunday
Make sure that you always stretch after working out on a stationary bike. Mindfulness and yoga is a fantastic addition to fitness and endurance training and an excellent way to revive and restore tired muscles.
The above biking workouts are a great place for runners to start, but if you’re looking for a bit more guidance, then we recommend utilizing a bike that offers a total workout program. This includes bikes like the Echelon (read our review of the Echleon Bike), Schwinn IC4 (see our IC4 review), or the Bowflex C6 (read our review of the Bowflex Bike).
If you want a good list of bikes to consider for your running workouts, we recommend checking out our top 5 exercise bikes for home.
Either way, there are plenty of great biking options for runners looking to get a little extra edge, and we hope you’ve found our workouts and bike suggestions helpful.