What Is a Good Speed on a Stationary Bike: The Different Ranges and Recommendations
A stationary exercise bike is a pretty wholesome machine that can give you a whole-body workout.
It is also quite versatile in terms of the speed and resistance levels it offers. As a result, anyone can use it, no matter what their goal is.
However, a common question raised about using it is “What is a good speed on a stationary bike?”
There are many answers to this, but the simplest, no-nonsense answer is the speed you can achieve.
That said, to really understand what speed is “good” or “effective“, you need to understand what different speed ranges mean in terms of intensity and results.
What Are the Different Stationary Exercise Bike Speed Levels?
The speed and resistance of an exercise bike are completely in your hands, so it can be challenging to determine where to start and stop.
You also need to understand what exactly is fast and what is not. It’s a bit relative because what’s fast for an average Joe may be slow for a professional cyclist.
There are essentially three ranges of stationary bike or any bike speed levels and they are:
Light speed is what most people begin with when working out on a stationary exercise bike.
Mostly, it ranges between 30 and 45 RPMs, but can also go as high as 50 RPM, which you could already call medium-light speed.
While this speed range doesn’t burn a lot of calories, it offers minimal resistance, so you can go for hours pedaling.
Generally, at this speed level, you’re just moving the wheel at a controlled pace, which requires less effort on your part.
While considered a warm-up for most, this speed range may be good enough for someone recovering from an injury.
Apparently, this speed level is more intense than the light speed range and will get your pulse rate up.
This speed ranges from 50 to 60 RPM, and obviously, it burns more calories than when you’re exercising using the light speed range.
For people who exercise at a higher speed than mid-range regularly, these speeds are perfect for recovery.
Generally, mid-range speed gives a good workout, even if you’re cycling for a shorter period.
Speeds over 60 RPM are quite fast and come in the fast range, which burns the most calories.
Simply put, the higher the speed level, the more calories you burn.
Some may argue that it isn’t fast until it’s over 70 RPM, but for an average adult, 60 RPM and above qualify as fast.
Using this range is the most intense workout with the most resistance, so it would make a short part of your overall cycling workout.
Many people cannot go over a minute of cycling at these speed levels. It will really elevate your pulse rate and get all the blood pumping.
What Is a Good Speed on a Stationary Bike?
So this is where it gets complicated because you have to decide what speed is good for you.
A good practice would be to test out all three ranges to failure and see how long you last on them.
It’s different for every person, so you’ll basically need to nail down which range works best for you.
It’s completely normal even to find mid-range speeds hard, especially when you’re recovering or haven’t exercised in a while.
You can always work your way up slowly and gradually increase your stationary bike speed, one day at a time.
Additionally, the right speed level will usually depend on your specific goals, so let’s look at some of the most common ones.
For Burning Calories
If we’re talking about burning calories and getting the most benefit, you have to spend most of your cycling time at the mid-range speed levels.
Except if you’re recovering from a serious injury, try adding at least a few minutes of the fast speed range.
It will get your heart racing, and you will continue to burn calories even when you drop down to mid-range speed levels.
For Weight Loss, Endurance and Lower Muscle Development
If you’re trying to lose weight, both mid-range and fast speed ranges are good enough.
On the other hand, those who want to increase their endurance and target leg muscles, the faster range is the most optimal.
They’ll need to cycle mostly on the fast range or even go all-out and cycle on the maximum speed their stationary bike offers.
Some endurance trainees also exercise with a weighted wheel on mid-range speeds, which essentially makes it high speed in terms of resistance.
For Injury Recovery
For someone who is recovering, start with light speeds and work your way up.
Never go all-out on the bike if you have muscle or bone injury since it can reverse all the work you’ve done so far.
Choosing and Using the Right Stationary Bike Speed Levels
Overall, the answer to “What is a good speed on a stationary bike?” is the one that works best for you and your fitness goals.
Still, if there’s a range in numbers that one could say is a good speed range for a stationary bike, 40 to 70 is good enough.
If you manage to cycle within this range for 75% of your exercise time, you’ll get the kick you’re looking for from this exercise.
Take your time to figure out what you need and what you enjoy the best.
Don’t go crazy on the speed levels since the best workout you can get is the one you can manage.
That said, it’s also important to challenge yourself from time to time. You’ll be surprised how intense a stationary bike can be!
Lastly, here are some tips in using the stationary bike safely and correctly:
- Warm-up for five minutes on light speed
- Switch between fast and mid-range speeds for at least five minutes towards the end of your workout
- Try one minute of fast pedaling with 15 seconds of mid-range pedaling for maximum impact
- Work on your posture to get the maximum benefit
- Wear high-quality shoes like spin shoes that help pedal easily
Have a fun and safe cycling!
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