Indoor Cycling with Weights

You may have seen those indoor cycling videos wherein the instructor does weight lifting while doing indoor cycling to get a full-body workout. You may be wondering if this type of indoor cycling workout is worth a try.

Should you do indoor cycling with weights? Most fitness experts disagree with doing weight training exercises while pedaling on your bike as this may result in injuries in the long run. However, you can incorporate strength training as part of your exercise routine.

Thanks (or no thanks) to some misguided instructors, some people get swayed into workout fads that are not beneficial or even downright dangerous.

I can see why some people may buy this fad of lifting and pedaling at the same time. Since indoor biking is mostly a lower body workout, busy people may want to do upper and lower body exercises all at once because they might think they are saving time, and maxing their workout.

Also, it may appear that the programs offered by these type of classes are unique since they add variety to an indoor cycling session.

In addition, the cycling coach appears very credible. Surely they know what they are doing, right? Sadly, this is not always the case.

Why is lifting weights while cycling risky?

Doing a full-body workout while training on your bike is not a good idea at all. Don’t try to do everything at once at the expense of your back, knees, shoulders, and neck. Remember, your goal is to get fit not to land in a hospital.

It doesn’t matter that these so-called instructors advise you to use only light dumbbells during the workout. Lifting weights while you hammer on your bike’s pedals opens to the possibility of getting your biking posture incorrect which may result in body pains or worse injury in the long run.

It is hard enough for beginners who are fully concentrated in their indoor cycling workout to maintain proper posture. What more if you add weights into the mix?

Also, doing all these things at the same time will make you lose your focus on pedaling which would mean you would be producing less power as you bike without really gaining any benefit for your upper body.

Won’t there be any slight benefit with weight lifting while cycling?

Straight answer, no. While you might feel the burn on your arms it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is beneficial at all.

Also, most fitness experts agree that if you really want to build and strengthen your arm muscles you need to lift heavier weights.

Those lightweight dumbbells that the cycling instructor recommends just won’t cut it. Better not waste your energy and risk your joints.

How about pushups and crunches while on the bike?

This exercise fad is another no-no. Not surprisingly, it is also promoted by the same indoor cycling classes that promote weight lifting while cycling. Again, the supposed goal is to get a full-body workout while biking indoors.

First of all, push ups and crunches while indoor cycling will put a strain on your back. Remember what I said about posture? Well these moves are even worse for your proper bike posture.

Second, they are useless at this point. A real pushup engages your core muscles and uses your body weight to strengthen your arm muscles. Nothing of that sort happens when you are doing pushups on the handlebars while seated on your bike and pedaling.

Not convinced? Try doing push-ups while seated in a regular chair with a table in front of you. Do you feel any resistance at all while pushing on a table? Nope. But it will sure strain your back if you do it repeatedly.

Some adherents of this type of push-ups may mistakenly feel that it is working because it may seem exhausting for them. But in fact, only the legs are really working and their backs are being subjected to unnecessary strain.

Third, I think it looks rather silly. But that’s just me and you’re free to disagree.

How do I get an upper body workout with indoor cycling?

Upper body workouts are great and can be used in combination with indoor cycling. Resistance training can strengthen your muscles and connective tissues, and improve your bone density.

Having strong muscles and bones may help you minimize injuries in the long run and helps you become a powerful rider.

Other benefits of resistance training include increasing your metabolic rate which is great when you are trying to lose weight, and keeping your cardiovascular system healthy.

For newbies, two-three days of weight lifting per week is a great start. You may schedule your weight lifting during the days when your not indoor training. But, it is also okay to incorporate them during your cycling workout after your warm up in your bike. Take note that strength training must not be done on consecutive days to give your body a time to recover.

Experts also recommend eight to ten repetitions of an exercise for each major muscle group.

You can also do core exercises like crunches and all the variations of planks. Ideally, you must do core exercises for two to three times a week. Having a strong core will greatly benefit you as a cyclist.

Full body exercises like lunges, squats, burpees and the like are okay to add to your exercise routine too.

However, if you have an existing injury, consult with your doctor first, and be sure take things slow.

In conclusion

Upper body or full body exercises can complement your indoor training.

However, I strongly advise not to do upper-body exercises while pedaling on your bike contrary to what some cycling classes peddle.

Even if you might feel fine after a month or so, there’s no telling what damage it can do to your body in the long run.

Set another time for your full-body workouts if you must. If you really want to do strength training during your indoor training, then get off your bike first.

When it comes to fitness, you must be wary of shortcuts. Sure, there are training programs out there that will give you maximum benefits within a relatively short time. But doing calisthenics while riding on your bike is not one of them.

Lifting weights while riding on your bike outdoors doesn’t make sense. It will not make sense in your indoor riding either. If you can’t do it on your outdoor ride, then there is no reason to do it during indoor training.

Related questions

Can I use indoor training to lose weight? Indoor cycling, together with a healthy diet and resistance training, can be an effective way to lose weight. Cycling is a form of aerobic exercise which has been proven to help our body burn fat.

How often should I do indoor cycling? Adults need at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate intensity of aerobic exercise spread over a week according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. You can increase the number of hours you train based on your current fitness level.

Is HIIT effective for weight loss? Yes. High Intensity Interval Training–doing short burst of high-intensity workout in between low intensity workout, can push the calorie burn and help you burn fat more efficiently.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40 something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live in the glory days of past triathlon glories.

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