Use of stationary bicycles?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by kermitFrost, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. kermitFrost

    kermitFrost New Member

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    What does everyone in here think about using stationary bikes as a way of training endurance for actual cycling? It's freezing cold in here and with snow around it's pretty difficult to get out of the house regularly and cycle. As I go to the gym regularly I was thinking about adding half an hour per day for cycling on a stationary bike, and that way I can also keep my endurance for regular cycling. Is it a good idea?
     
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  2. kcj

    kcj New Member

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    Yes and duration/intensity depends on your fitness. I try to do a 2 hour session per week and my regular duration hoover around 90 minutes. I average 5-6 hours on the trainer per week (emphasizing on threshold and VO2Max intervals) and been lucky so far on doing longer rides weekends.

    I don't see the point of suffering in the extreme cold, being wet, and endangering yourself in the dark; I suffer just fine on the trainer. Just make sure you have good airflow.
     
  3. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    It is not a good idea, but it is better than not riding. I have used stationary bikes in hotels and such. I usually take my little MP3 player and either use that or plug the earphones into the machine.

    At a gym I would spend some time getting a machine set up for me and record the settings. And then use the same machine each day.
     
  4. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Sure gym trainers are great in winter. I ride the Cybex bikes at the Y all the time in winter. They are great for training because of the consistent load settings, making consistent power training and interval repeats easy.

    The bikes have several programmed workout routines, but I just use the manual mode, riding for normally 40-50 minutes at increasing load levels/power outputs. Often I like to mix up the cadence and power outputs, or throw in 30 second sprint intervals rather than just slog away at a steady cadence and output.
     
  5. Zhen25

    Zhen25 Member

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    I think stationary bicycles are a good way tot increase endurance. If you can't go out then why not train inside.
     
  6. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    It depends on the bike. Many bikes you find in a gym are not good for hard workouts. At my Y they have some Matrix bikes that have terrible ergonomics, the only adjustment is seat height. I've used them for giggles before and they do have power readings - I have no idea how accurate they are.

    Two of the 3 bikes they have will lock up after 10 minutes of 300 to 350 watts of output - the other will make strange noises. ...Not good for hard workouts.

    Anyway, do not wedge yourself into a machine that makes you uncomfortable. Better equipment allows for a wide range of adjustment and can handle hard workouts.
     
  7. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Yeah, agree the bike has to be a good one and has to fit to get a good workout. The Cybex bikes at our Y have consistent power readings, so that any of the 3 upright bikes give the same workout. They have no problem showing a steady 500-600W on 30 sec sprint efforts (that's on a good day for me) and displays peaks above 1 KW. The only problems with the fit is that the seat is too wide, and the bars are a bit close for standing work.

    They also have the Lemond spin bikes, totally adjustable, but lacking any power measurement. You may be familiar with them, a heavy flywheel with a load strap around the rim that you tighten with a knob. I've just never liked them because the resistance setting is so arbitrary, but at least one cyclist I know prefers them to the Cybex because you can set them up to mimic your race or TT bike. Lots of people attend the Spin classes, where they have about 20 bikes in a room lead by an instructor.

    And for fun, they have recumbent Espresso trainers. These have big video-game type screens with various game-looking ride options like hill climbs and races. On those, you can "race" with other riders or compete against your "shadow" lap after lap. Gimmicky for me, I'll take just power numbers and pain....
     
  8. Bicycleman

    Bicycleman Well-Known Member

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    Every time I have tried to get on those spin bikes in the gyms, the gym personnel have run me off of them. They act real anal if you're not in a spin class. Thank God, I'm retired and don't have to bother with gyms to stay in shape. I used to just go out and run when I was traveling and then come back in the room and do situps and pushups.

    I personally hate indoor trainers and spend a lot of time riding outdoors. The cold doesn't bother me. I just put on as many layers as it takes. The only time I will be stuck using a trainer will be because of snow on the ground. Fortunately this winter, we have had little of that. When it does snow, I will cross country ski. I love being outdoors.
     
  9. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Another fan of XC skiing, nothing better on a cold sunny day. But since I moved to AL, we've only had a good 8" snow once. I had a good track going in the local park for two days, managed to amuse a few onlookers. As you know, an underlayer, sweater and tights is enough clothing for XC skiing....it's hard work and you're not going fast.

    Good for you in dealing with the cold. I just hate the wind chill on descents. Within one minute of rolling out the driveway I'm on a 40 mph descent. If I layer up enough so that's bearable at the start, I'm overheating after warmup. Several buddies use rear racks to carry extra gear for warmup, climbs and descents. But for me below 40F, I'd rather hike in the woods. A good long climbing hike can be a pretty tough workout, and I don't feel I need to be on the bike all year round anyway.
     
  10. lordrenly

    lordrenly New Member

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    Yeah, it is better than nothing. A lot of my riding friends are concerned that it would have some negative effects to their actual riding posture but so they end up staying home but for me, I can say that it is a great way to keep my endurance because endurance drops easily and quickly when it is not conditioned. So far, I haven't seen a machine that is too uncomfortable in terms of position, muscle, etc. Living in North California, the winter can be tolerated but I agree that windchill can be nasty so I do appreciate them.
     
  11. JeffBrown

    JeffBrown New Member

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    Using stationary bikes are a good way to stay in the groove during these cold winter months that you can't really ride around. It obviously isn't going to be the same as riding your normal bike, but it will be fine while you can't ride curing the cold and snow.
     
  12. Summertime33

    Summertime33 New Member

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    Stationary bikes are obviously not preferable to the real experience, but it's definitely easier on the joints than running, and it at least gives some semblance of going for a ride.
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Gym trainers don't replicate the ride experience, true enough. But they can offer a real training workout since it's easy to select and control the power output vs. the real world where steady, repeatable conditions are tough to duplicate. For interval training, a good gym trainer allows for watching the power, speed, HR and cadence as the pain kicks in.

    When I used to train at home, I'd put an old bike on the "wind trainer" and pedal away in the garage over the winter. For weekdays, when it was already dark after work, the home trainer provided a great way to exercise before dinner.
     
  14. pwarbi

    pwarbi Well-Known Member

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    I've used exercise bikes before, but that's just been mainly to exercise in general, rather than to exercise specifically for biking.

    All forms of exercise will help you stay fit enough to go cycling, if your like me that usually stops in the winter and starts again in the spring, so I wouldn't say you HAVE to use an exercise bike.
     
  15. BikeBikeBikeBike

    BikeBikeBikeBike Well-Known Member

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    I am curious as to why you think it's not a good idea?
    If you read the post OP is going to the gym already and asking if they should start adding in stationary bike work.
    I say that's a fantastic idea! I do weights and then ride either the regular stationary bike or the spinning bike for 30-60 mins.
    Keeps me primed for the short riding season.
     
  16. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    1/2 hour will not help with endurance
     
  17. thedeatheater1410

    thedeatheater1410 New Member

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    I only do stationary cycling at the gym if I want some down time between lifting weights and the treadmill routine. It is far easier to cycle on that since there is no friction and no balancing involved. Ad the worst thing about stationary cycling is that it is simply no fun!
     
  18. BikeBikeBikeBike

    BikeBikeBikeBike Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough that is very true!
     
  19. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Guess it all depends on what we mean by "endurance". Compared to doing nothing all winter, your endurance will be much better after indoor training. In fact, the notion of "endurance" is mostly about FTP anyway. Someone who can output a high power, say 200W for 30 minutes on a gym trainer is going to have a lot more endurance than another who can only maintain 100W. Sure, there are other aspects to doing a 100 mile ride, but those are easy to learn.....just give me a big motor and the other concerns tend to go away with just a couple of longer spring rides.

    Endurance is very related to aerobic capacity, and that can be built on a gym trainer. 30 sec intervals have been shown as effective to raising VO2 max. As a result, someone with a high 30 second output will tend to have better endurance.

    IAW, I think most of us could do nothing but 30 second max-power intervals over the winter season on an indoor training, and in the spring our "endurance" will be far ahead of someone who sat on the sofa for 3 months. In fact, if you responded well to the short max interval training (and you'll know from watching the power output on the trainer), you may have your best season ever.

    Sure, there are other aspects to riding for hours, but those are easily learned and trained compared to building a high FTP.
     
  20. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Training for endurance is much different than training for racing. It provides different benefits. Most flat-ish club centuries have a 8 hour cut off. Not much FTP is required to finish them. And for many people endurance means going 100 miles during daylight hours with more of a tourist intent.

    This year my training is different than previous years. I do more days indoors and fewer days outdoors. My indoor days are 2 sessions of 40 minutes at or above my last fall's FTP. My FTP is a bit higher now due to this. My outdoor days are 4 hours (nominal). When I am off my bike my legs feel like they are on the edge of cramping. I used to only have fatigue. My endurance is falling off from last fall.

    If you look at sustainable power v. time curves normalized to FTP, you will notice that that as the left end of the curve goes up the right end goes down. That has some effect on endurance.

    But I will agree that learning (experience) does help the endurance athlete.
     
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