The Benefits of an Indoor Cycling Class, Muscles Worked & Tips (2023)

The Benefits of an Indoor Cycling Class, Muscles Worked & Tips (1)Share on Pinterest

Indoor cycling classes are as challenging as they are exhilarating. Benefits of a class include weight loss, improved strength, and endurance.

These benefits are enhanced when indoor cycling classes are combined with other cardio and resistance workouts, but you can easily use an indoor cycling class as your main workout.

It’s definitely worth trying out an indoor cycling class, especially if it’s within your budget and you think it’s something you’ll enjoy.

Indoor cycling classes are notoriously challenging, which means you’re likely to see results, especially if you commit to regular classes.

To gain the full benefits, you’ll need to commit to three to six classes per week for a total of 150 minutes. Use a journal or app to track the progress of your fitness goals.

Building strength

In order to improve your strength, plan on doing at least 150 minutes of cycling per week. You may see results after a few weeks of regular classes, but you’ll have to keep up with the classes in order to maintain the results.

Cardiovascular benefits

Indoor cycling is a wonderful way to improve cardiovascular health. It’s similar to other forms of cardio, such as running, swimming, and elliptical training. It’s ideal for people who want a cardio workout without putting too much stress on their joints.

A small 2017 study on female middle school students found that indoor cycling was even better than bicycling in improving physical fitness.

Burn calories

Indoor cycling classes are a great way to burn calories. Depending on the difficulty and duration of the class, you can burn 400 to 600 calories per class. You’ll have to attend classes three to six times per week to see weight loss results.

A study from 2018 found that indoor cycling and strength training were enough to have a positive effect on endurance and strength without changing dietary habits.

(Video) Benefits Of Indoor Cycling

It’s still a good idea to follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of carbohydrates and protein. In a 2010 study, indoor cycling coupled with a low-calorie diet was found to promote weight loss and raise HDL cholesterol levels.

Indoor cycling is a total-body workout and works all of the major muscle groups. Here are seven areas you work and how you use them while you’re cycling.

  • Core. Use your core to stabilize your body throughout the class, which helps to achieve overall balance, especially when you’re standing.
  • Upper body. Use your upper body to support yourself on the bike. Some classes incorporate upper-body exercises using dumbbells or resistance bands.
  • Back. Maintain a strong, stable spine throughout the class, which will help to strengthen and tone your back muscles.
  • Glutes. Feel your glutes working with each pump, especially when you stand up from your seat, do an incline, or increase the resistance.
  • Quadriceps. Your quadriceps will be the main muscles used as you pedal and climb hills, leading to strong, toned legs.
  • Hamstrings. Cycling helps to strengthen and loosen your hamstrings, which lift the pedal up with each cycle and stabilize your joints.
  • Lower legs. You’ll work your calves with each cycle, which helps to protect your ankles and feet while cycling and during everyday activities.

When deciding on a class, there are a few points to consider. Finding an instructor that you resonate with is important.

Take a few classes with different instructors to get a feel for how classes are structured. Consider class size since you’ll be more likely to receive individual instruction in classes with fewer students.

Choose a class that targets a particular aspect or mix it up. Classes are sometimes grouped into categories such as speed, endurance, or power.

Fusion classes are popping up that combine indoor cycling with:

  • boxing
  • Pilates
  • barre
  • circuits
  • boot camp
  • HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
  • gaming

Consider the price and decide if it’s in your budget. Most classes are around $25, and you can usually get a better deal by purchasing a package. A standard class is 45 minutes, but class lengths can vary.

Locating classes near you

Most gyms offer indoor cycling classes, and you can search here for ones in your area.

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Using an app such as MINDBODY is especially useful when you’re traveling or new to an area. SoulCycle is one of the original boutique studios and can be found in most major North American cities.

Other popular chain studios include:

  • CycleBar
  • Equinox
  • Flywheel
  • Cyc

Cycle at home

For a $2,245 investment, you can buy your own Peloton bike and do classes via video stream at your home.

Cycle on your terms

It all comes down to a matter of personal taste and preference.

If you want to splurge on classes at a boutique gym that offers scented towels, body sprays, and a steam room, by all means do it, especially if those perks motivate you to work out more frequently. If a bare-bones gym is more your style and you’re there for the grit, go for it.

With access to a stationary bike you can always create your own routine.

Individual instruction

Taking a class as opposed to riding a bike independently has the benefit of having an instructor who’s there to make sure you’re riding safely and correctly. This helps to avoid injury and allows you to work to your full potential.

A supportive fitness community

You have the chance to meet new people and build a sense of community. The energy of the group may help you push yourself harder. You might even meet some friends with whom to take a wheatgrass shot after class in a celebration of your hard work.

Space to pedal away your thoughts

Working out with a group while listening to loud music and following the cues of your instructor can help you free your mind from to-do lists, mental loops, and anything else taking up brain space. After giving your mind a break, you may feel refreshed and energized.

Build mental strength

Much of what we do physically lies in what our thoughts tell us we can do. By pushing yourself beyond your perceived limits and seeing what you are capable of, you may gain more confidence in your abilities and push yourself harder in other areas of your life.

Ride a bicycle with ease

The next time your friend asks you to ride a bicycle in nature or through the city, you may be more enthusiastic about saying yes. After pushing yourself to the max in indoor cycling classes, a bicycle ride can be a leisurely, enjoyable activity, plus you’ll be more adept at riding.

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Come into balance

Riding a stationary bike reduces your risk of injury and makes you less prone to falls, which is ideal for people who have balance concerns. This includes people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis who may have balance difficulties after becoming inactive due to pain.

Here are a few reminders of things you should and shouldn’t do in an indoor cycling class in order to remain courteous and get the most out of your workout.

Be punctual

Be on time so you’re not interrupting a class that’s in session. Arrive early if you’re new to indoor cycling, need help setting up your bike, or need to talk to the instructor about any injuries or medical conditions.

If you need to leave class early, arrange this ahead of time and choose a bike by the door.

Get set up

Make sure your bike seat and handlebars are in the correct position. Ask the instructor to help if you’re unsure.


Stay on top of your fluid game. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after class to replenish the fluids you’ll lose through sweat and exertion.

Lose the electronics

Don’t use headphones, a phone, or a Kindle during a class. Focus on your ride and listen to the music that’s provided as well as the verbal instructions.

Hinge at your hips

Forget all the advice to stand up straight, as this can injure your knees and back. Bend at your hips to bring your upper body in front of your hips. At the same time, draw your shoulders away from you ears to prevent yourself from tensing up and hunching over.

Tip for comfort in class

If you’re serious about cycling, getting a seat cover or a pair of quality padded cycling shorts can add some comfort so you can focus on making the most of your workout.

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Be careful not to push yourself too hard, especially in the beginning. While you can try to keep up with the class, you also have to listen to your own body. This is especially important if you have any injuries or medical concerns that could interfere with cycling.

Make sure to drink plenty of water leading up to each cycling session. Drinking water in the days before and after helps you stay hydrated.

If you have a desk job and already spend a lot of time sitting, make sure to balance indoor cycling classes with other activities, like stretching, strength and resistance training, and exercises where you move your body through your full range of motion.

Taking a moderate approach is the best way to stay safe and avoid injury. Build up slowly so that you don’t risk burning out by pushing yourself too hard, too soon.

It’s normal to feel especially fatigued and sore after the first few classes, but you may find that you’re able to withstand longer and more intense periods of cycling. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Indoor cycling can improve your overall physical fitness by building strength and cardiovascular endurance. Classes can also help boost your mood and provide you with a healthy, enjoyable activity.

Indoor cycling classes can be on the expensive side, especially if you choose a class with a popular instructor and special equipment, but the benefits can make the cost worth it.

(Video) What Parts of the Body Does a Stationary Bike Work?

To see results, commit to doing three to six classes per week for a period of several months. Keep up with the classes in order to continue reaping the benefits.


What benefits do you get from indoor cycling? ›

Indoor cycling classes help you shed fat, improve your heart health, and boost your muscle endurance. Your legs will get a serious workout. By the end of class, you'll have a steady stream of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. Many gyms offer indoor cycling classes.

What muscles does indoor cycling tone? ›

Cycling is great for toning the lower body, particularly the legs. The hamstrings and quadriceps are two of the most targeted muscles during a cycling workout, as they play a huge role in pedalling. The hamstrings are positioned at the back of your thighs (the posterior) and are involved during the upstroke motion.

How does cycling affect your body? ›

Cycling builds muscle

The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn't just burn fat: it also builds muscle - particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat, and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories even when sedentary.

What happens to your body when you cycle everyday? ›

Your Legs Get Strong

The most noticeable benefit of cycling every day: Increased leg strength. Your quads, hamstrings, and calves will grow exponentially if you pick up a daily cycling habit.

Does cycling tone your stomach? ›

Cycling can help to improve muscle tone in the areas of your legs, butt, and stomach. Cycling is a fantastic exercise to help tone your muscles and lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

Can indoor cycling tone your legs? ›

Answer: Spinning, or studio cycling, is an excellent workout to strengthen your heart and tone your legs. (You can stretch your way to lean, lovely legs, too.)

Can you build muscle from indoor cycling? ›

Cycling primarily targets your lower body, particularly the leg and gluteal muscles. As your indoor cycling workout simulates various outdoor terrains, you will raise and lower into the saddle of your exercise bike. While seated, you will build the gluteus and hamstring muscles.

Does indoor cycling reduce belly fat? ›

Yes, cycling can help lose belly fat, but it will take time. A recent study showed regular cycling may enhance overall fat loss and promote a healthy weight. To reduce overall belly girth, moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as cycling (either indoor or outdoor), are effective to lower belly fat.

Can cycling reduce belly fat? ›

Yes. Although your stomach muscles aren't working as hard as your quads or glutes when you're riding, but cycling's aerobic nature means you are burning fat.

Can you lose weight by cycling indoors? ›

Indoor Cycling classes are a very effective way to lose weight because you burn a lot of calories per workout.

Is 30 minutes of cycling enough? ›

Exercising on the bike for at least 30 minutes a day will build up your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. By putting in consistent effort, you'll notice an improvement in your aerobic capacity, enabling you to bike longer or on more intense rides.


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