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What are the Different Types of Indoor Cycling Workouts?

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  • Written By: Angel Holthus
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Indoor cycling workouts can help burn calories and maintain a low-impact exercise routine that is less taxing on the bones and joints of the body. These types of workouts typically focus on improving strength, endurance, or speed through different cycling techniques. By varying intensity, speed, resistance, duration, and incorporating different climbing exercises, a variety of indoor cycling workouts can be created. The basic types of these workouts are tempo, hill, and interval.

The type of indoor cycling workout a person chooses is typically determined by the specific goal of the exerciser. Many people interested in cycling simply desire a stimulating and efficient way to remain fit. For people with no specific physical goal in mind, a combination of all three types of training can help maximize the benefits of this low-impact cardiovascular exercise. It can be important for a person to alternate between longer steadily-paced workouts with shorter high-intensity cycling sessions that incorporate varying resistances and intervals. One way an exerciser could experience a variety of indoor cycling routines would be to join a gym that has a cycling studio and attend instructor-guided classes.

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Tempo cycling workouts focus on a steady level of physical exertion over an extended period of time. Music is commonly used in group cycling sessions to maintain pace and encourage the cyclists to push themselves harder than they might without the rhythmic beat. The goal of this type of indoor cycling workout is to maintain an aerobic heartbeat and increase the body's level of endurance. This typically is the best type of cycling for beginners because it tends to be straight-forward, simpler, and has the ability to satisfy all levels of physical fitness. A novice might participate in a tempo cycling workout for 30 to 45 minutes, while a more advanced athlete could ride 60 to 90 minutes.

Hill cycling workouts are specifically used to increase leg strength. This is done by periodically increasing the resistance of the bike by adjusting a mechanical brake called a flywheel — when the brake is tightened, the resistance is increased and pedaling becomes more difficult. This workout is commonly used by cyclists that are training for races that have frequent or steep hills. It begins with a steady tempo to warm up the legs and is followed by periodic increases in resistance that typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes. These challenging intervals are separated by similarly timed periods of lower resistance and a faster cadence — the speed at which the pedals turn.

Indoor cycling workouts that utilize hill interval training often incorporate out-of-the-saddle riding. Increased resistance is commonly paired with the practice of climbing. Cyclists will lift off of their seats to create a vertical pedaling motion that focuses on the specific muscle groups that aid in ascending hills.

The third main type of indoor cycling workouts is called interval training. It is similar to the hill cycling workout; however, instead of varying the resistance, interval training periodically adjusts the speed of cycling. The cadence is increased for timed durations that typically last from 30 seconds to three minutes. Music can be extremely helpful in this avenue because a quickened beat can naturally entice cyclists to pedal at a faster speed. Interval techniques used for indoor cycling workouts can boost a cyclist's natural speed and help reduce overall time during races.

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