Cycling can be really difficult when we don’t have the outdoors to actually cycle. When the winter season hits, cycling is impossible or rather, impractical in most parts of the world. Some people cycle through winter and I can distinctly remember seeing a cyclist climb towards a ski resort through a blizzard, while we were traveling there by car. Some people are beyond dedicated and can cycle in any weather.
Others, the vast majority of people, don’t like cycling when it’s raining, scorching hot or freezing outside.
For them, a stationary bicycle is a solid alternative. But is it worth much in terms of training? It depends, and here are the reasons why.
A Bicycle is Often Not Enough
For any athlete who has been cycling for a long time, or exercising for a long time and is at any decent above average level, they will not get many benefits from a stationary bicycle. If they set it to maximum resistance, they might get some strength and interval training value from it. Endurance training on such a bicycle would have to last a while, just like on a regular bicycle, but much less interesting. Stationary bicycles are in your room and it gets very boring to ride after some time.
Exercise wise, it is much better to spend the extra winter time going to the gym to either run or work on the muscles which cycling rarely hits, like the hamstrings and the upper body muscles, from the arms, the back, to the core.
It is Still Exercise
A stationary bicycle has the benefits of being able to accommodate you any time of the day or year. It is in your home, for starters and you can ride any time you want. Being in your home, you can set it up next to a TV screen, so that you can actually watch something and not burn yourself out by cycling in place and staring at a wall for extended periods of time.
However, you should not do all sessions with entertainment, simply to train your focus. Since all stationary bicycles have variable resistance, you can increase it to get a decent strength workout. Your bicycle could be used for multiple training sessions, such as intervals, tempos and long distance ones. This would cover most of your ride types.
Where Stationary Bicycles Fail
If we are talking about a typical stationary bicycle which is firmly set on the ground, you merely have to sit upright and pedal away, you will not be doing any balancing exercises, which are essential to riding a bicycle. Oh, you will not forget to ride a bicycle by riding a stationary bicycle, but the exercise would not be as thorough as it could be.
Trainers and rollers allow users to place their own bicycles on them and thus get a much more realistic exercise routine. These are better options than a stationary bicycle, as in you get better exercise, better form and also a better experience. Consider these rather than a stationary bicycle.
Stationary bicycles can be great for exercise if there is no other alternative. For cycling, however, a trainer or roller to put your bicycle on, would provide better exercise and a much more realistic cycling experience.
Either way, you could exercise with a stationary bicycle, but there are better alternatives for cycling.