New to Cycling? Here's Everything You Need to Know Before You Hop Into the SaddleDec 13, 2021
The saying “it’s just like riding a bike” hits a little differently when you’re a beginner cyclist preparing for your first indoor cycling class. The actual pedaling feels familiar, but there’s more to consider when you hop in the saddle for the first time. Between learning proper form and choosing the best cycling classes for beginners, the whole endeavor can be a little intimidating.
Thankfully, every MYX II Bike includes expert setup and support to make sure you’re ready to enjoy riding from the start. To help get you started, we sourced the best cycling tips for beginners from experts in the indoor cycling community.
How Long Should a Beginner Ride a Stationary Bike?
“Cycling for beginners” is a vast and nuanced category, as the term “beginner” can mean different things, depending on its context.
“Someone who is very fit but has just never tried indoor cycling can start with 20- to 30-minute rides,” says Melanie Melillo, senior content manager at Openfit. Once you’ve acclimated to the bike and feel comfortable with that length, go ahead and choose a longer ride.
However, if you’re brand new to cycling and just beginning a regular exercise routine, Melillo recommends starting with rides lasting 10 to 15 minutes and gradually increasing their duration over time.
Ready for a new challenge? Even first-time cyclists can experiment with switching up the intensity of their workouts while keeping the length of their rides the same.
“Stationary bikes allow for varied resistance levels, so you can exercise at low, medium, or high intensities, which makes indoor cycling ideal for interval training,” says Jake Maulin, co-owner and cycling instructor at CycleBar Naples. “Interval training can help you burn more calories in less time by alternating short bursts of intense exercise with intervals of less-intense exercise. As you drive your heart rate up or down while allowing for periods of recovery, you’re able to reap the benefits of your workout hours after you finish.”
How Often Should a Beginner Cyclist Ride?
How frequently you train should also be determined by your current level of fitness. According to Melillo, a new cyclist who is also new to fitness should start with two to three rides a week and, when they feel ready, add an additional day. Generally fit people who are new to indoor cycling may be able to start with three to four rides a week.
Not sure where to start or how to integrate cycling into your workout routine? 7-Day Jumpstart offers a structured, weeklong series that covers the basics, from setting up your MYX II Bike to heart rate-based training, and introduces new riders to a variety of cycling workout styles.
How Far Should a Beginner Cyclist Go?
Most beginner cycling programs don’t include distance goals. “There are better metrics for a beginner to focus on,” Melillo says. Cadence and heart rate, she explains, are more relevant to an indoor cycling experience — not distance.
“Openfit rides center on heart rate, as it’s the only metric that tells you how your body is adapting and responding to the exercise in real-time. Our rides also mention cadence rather than distance, and challenge riders to maintain a certain cadence while they work, to get and keep their heart rate in a particular zone,” she says.
“Miles on an indoor bike rarely translate to what it is like to actually ride those miles outdoors,” says Garret Seacat, CSCS, and head coach for Absolute Endurance. While road cycling forces the cyclist to contend with weather, traffic, and changes in terrain, indoor cycling conditions are always within the user’s control. You can still get a killer workout indoors, but you shouldn’t focus on long distances.
Can You Lose Weight Cycling Indoors?
In one study published in Journal of Education and Training Studies, 12 sedentary participants participated in a six-week indoor cycling program. They trained three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, starting with low-intensity cycling classes for beginners and gradually increasing the difficulty over time. According to the article, “At the end of the sixth week, those who were overweight by World Health Organization standards moved onto normal weight category, and those who were obese became overweight.”
While cycling can be an effective component of a comprehensive weight-loss plan, Melillo warns that it’s not a panacea.
“It’s great cardiovascular exercise and can burn lots of calories,” she says. “However, as with any exercise program, it has to be paired with the right nutritional plan if weight loss is the primary goal. It’s not magic; it’s exercise.”
7 Cycling Tips for Beginners
Take these tips into account if you’re considering adding cycling to your fitness routine.
1. Start slowly
It’s easy to get excited and overly ambitious. Resist the urge to do more or push harder before you’re physically ready to ride regularly. “Just like with any other exercise program, start slowly and build up gradually so that you don’t get hurt,” Melillo says. A program like 7-Day Jumpstart will teach you the basics and help you create a reasonable training schedule.
Also, don’t be afraid to modify workouts. “You don’t have to do everything the instructor does,” Maulin says. You can control your resistance and speed. You also don’t have to come out of the saddle, especially if you’ve had knee injuries in the past.”
2. Learn proper bike set-up
The right bike set-up is key to a comfortable, injury-free ride. A MYX Bike includes tutorials on how to adjust your bike according to your build. If you’re attending an in-person class, arrive a few minutes early and ask the instructor for help.
3. Use adequate resistance
Tempted to take it easy? “Don’t set your resistance too low,” Maulin says. “When this happens we see riders pedaling furiously but not getting any benefit out of the motion and even hyper-extending their knees.”
4. Embrace the cycling community
Whether you attend cycling classes virtually or in person, make an effort to connect with fellow riders. Cycling is a surprisingly communal sport, and exercising with friends will keep you accountable and increase your enjoyment overall. Connect with fellow Openfit riders through the Openfit Teammates Facebook group.
5. Stay hydrated
You will sweat. A lot. So, be sure to stay hydrated, since dehydration can impact your workout results. “Drink a bottle of water before the ride, take sips during the ride, and then consume another eight ounces immediately following the ride,” Maulin recommends. And if you need extra hydration support, consider a supplement like LADDER Hydration.
6. Stretch and cool down
7. Have fun
Openfit offers so many indoor cycling classes for beginners. Experiment to find the right instructor and style that’s right for you. “Have fun!” Melillo says. “Turn the music up and sing!”