Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners

Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners

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The stationary bike is a good choice for a cardio workout if you're just getting started with exercise and is a great way to ease into cardio. In fact, you get the same cardio benefits as when using the treadmill or elliptical trainer or when walking or running outside.

One thing to keep in mind is that doing any new activity will feel challenging, so you may need to start with just a few minutes at a time and slowly work your way up to longer workouts. See how to enjoy a workout for beginners.


Cycling can help you build fitness while protecting your joints. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Convenience and safety: You can workout inside no matter what the traffic or weather is like.
  • Crosstraining: Cycling works the opposite lower body muscles from running or walking. While those exercises work the hamstrings at the back of the leg, cycling works the quads in the front of the thigh.
  • Low-impact: You won't have any impact on the joints, which is important if you have problems with your knees or hips. You do it seated, which may be good for people who have chronic back pain.
  • Knee support: Cycling helps the knee joint stay naturally lubricated and also emphasizes building strength in the quads, which may help with knee pain. Sometimes strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee and giving it more support can help reduce pain.
  • Multiple options: If you're at a gym, you'll likely have access to both upright bikes and recumbent bikes. The recumbent bike has you sitting back so that your back has more support, ideal for anyone with back problems.
  • Variety: Most stationary bikes have programs to follow and you can also create your own workout by adjusting the resistance up or down.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any illnesses or injuries or you are on medication that may affect your heart rate or workouts.

We've researched and reviewed the best online cycling classes. If you're looking for an online class, explore which option may be best for you

Stationary Bike Setup

If you're using a bike you've never been on before, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how it works. If you're at a gym, check with the floor manager to see if you can get an orientation for how to use the different bikes and which one might be right for you.

  • If you stand next to an upright bike, the seat should be level with the top of your hips.
  • You should have a slight bend in the knees at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
  • Adjust the seat, handles, and pedals to match your height and reach.
  • Learn how to adjust the resistance during the workout as you will be changing it during different intervals.

How to Do the Workout

After adjusting your bike, start with the warm-up, then follow each segment of the workout.

  • Find a pace/resistance that allows you to work at the suggested rate of perceived exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (extremely hard). RPE is how hard it feels to work at the level of resistance you've chosen. If it feels too hard, back off on the resistance and speed. If it's too easy, increase the resistance.
  • Your legs may get tired quickly if you're not used to the bike. It takes time to build endurance, so go as long as you can and stop when you are ready. You can add a little time to each workout to slowly build strength and endurance. You can even stop and stretch your legs if needed.
  • Perform this workout about three times a week with a day of rest in between. 
  • Progress by adding a few minutes each time you workout until you're up to 30 minutes.
  • Stretch your lower body after your workout.

Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners

In this workout you will do the following:

  1. Start with a warm-up for 5 minutes
  2. Increase resistance/pace for 3 minutes
  3. Increase resistance/pace again for 2 minutes
  4. Decrease resistance to baseline for 3 minutes
  5. Increase resistance/pace to just above baseline for 2 minutes
  6. Decrease resistance/pace to cool down for 6 minutes
Time (minutes) Intensity/Pace RPE
5 Warm up at a comfortable pace and keep the resistance low. 4
3 Increase the resistance 1 to 4 increments or until you're working harder than your warm-up pace. You should feel you are working, but you should be able to carry on a conversation. This is your baseline pace. 5
2 Increase your resistance and/or the pace once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline. 5 to 6
3 Decrease the resistance or pace back to your baseline level. 5
2 Increase your resistance and/or the pace once again until you're working slightly harder than your baseline level. 5 to 6
5 Decrease the resistance or pace back to a comfortable level to cool down. 4

Progressing With This Workout

Once you can do the 20-minutes workout, progress by adding another five-minute segment with three minutes at baseline and two minutes at a harder level. Do this for a week or until it is comfortable for you. Then you can add another three minutes easier effort and two minutes harder interval to bring you total time up to 30 minutes.

By the time you are doing a 30-minute workout, you are achieving the minimum recommended amount of exercise per day. Now you will be able to build from there.

You don't have to only use the stationary bike. It's great to try multiple activities to work your body in different ways and avoid overuse injuries. Try a beginner interval treadmill workout or a beginner elliptical workout.

Doing at least three cardio workouts a week is a great place to start to build endurance and burn calories.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Damm P, Dymke J, Bender A, Duda G, Bergmann G. In vivo hip joint loads and pedal forces during ergometer cycling. J Biomechan. 2017;60(26):197-202. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.06.047

  2. Kutzner I, Medic R, Heinlein B, et al. Loading of the knee joint during ergometer cycling: telemetric in vivo data. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012;42(12):1032-8. doi:10.2519/jospt.4001

  3. Susko AM, Fitzgerald GK. The pain-relieving qualities of exercise in knee osteoarthritis. Open Access Rheumatol. 2013;5:81-91.

Additional Reading

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."