Indoor Cycling Programs for Beginners Ultimate Guide

Author: Kier

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Finding the right indoor cycling programs for beginners can be difficult. There is so much to consider that by the time you sit down to research, you’ve forgotten what the whole point was to begin with. 

Don’t stress; we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about getting started with an indoor cycling program, including what you’ll need, what to look for, and how to maintain your program in the long run. 

Key Takeaways

  • Finding the right bike is vital to success
  • Select a program that works with your fitness level and time availability
  • Start slow and work your way up
  • Consistency is key to long-term results
  • Setting SMART goals can help you reach your desired outcome
cyclist testing out one of the Indoor cycling programs for beginners

Getting Started 

Choosing to start a cycling program is super exciting. There is so much research to be done that you’re ready to get going when you start. 

But before you do anything else, you must know what you’ll need. Here is a basic guide to everything beginner indoor cyclists need to get going. 

Finding the right bike

There are so many indoor bikes on the market that’ll make more than just your pedal stroke spin. Luckily, we’ve got a rundown of the basics to give you a head start on indoor cycling at home.

Bike Turbo Trainer

If you are wondering what a turbo trainer is. Essentially, it’s a device that allows you to ride your own bike stationary indoors while simulating an outdoor ride. You simply attach your bike to the trainer, which provides resistance, so you can pedal and exercise without moving forward.

Smart Trainer

A smart trainer is a type of turbo trainer that takes indoor cycling to the next level. Unlike standard turbo trainers, smart trainers sync with various cycling apps to automatically adjust the resistance and simulate different terrains and gradients.

This means as you’re pedaling, the trainer can mimic the feeling of climbing a steep hill or cruising on flat ground, all based on the virtual route or workout you’ve chosen.

Smart trainers are also known for being quieter, which is a nice perk for indoor workouts. For those just beginning their indoor cycling journey, I personally recommend the Wahoo KICKR CORE Smart Turbo Trainer.

It’s an excellent option that balances performance with ease of use. The Wahoo KICKR CORE will connect seamlessly with most cycling apps, giving you a dynamic and engaging training session that feels surprisingly close to a real outdoor ride.

cyclist on an indoor turbo

Spinning Bike

A spinning bike is a dedicated piece of exercise equipment that’s designed to replicate the stationary cycling experience found in a gym or spin class.

These bikes are all-inclusive, featuring a solid frame, a comfortable seat, handlebars, and a flywheel to provide resistance. They often come with a variety of built-in workouts tailored to different fitness goals and levels, allowing you to challenge yourself as you improve.

Although I personally use a turbo trainer, I’ve heard good things about the YOSUDA Exercise Bike for those who prefer a dedicated spinning bike.

It’s a comprehensive option for anyone looking to start indoor cycling without the need to use their outdoor bike. The YOSUDA bike is known for its sturdy construction, smooth ride, and user-friendly interface, which makes it suitable for beginners. 

indoor bike

Recumbent bike

A recumbent exercise bike is a type of stationary bike that offers a more comfortable, laid-back riding position with a supportive backrest. This design is easier on the joints, particularly the lower back, and is ideal for those who need extra support or are recovering from injury.

Recumbent bikes typically feature a wide seat, and the pedals are positioned in front of the body, which can help reduce fatigue and allow for longer workout sessions. While I haven’t personally used the Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike, it has received positive reviews from users for its comfort, durability, and ease of use.

It’s often praised for the smooth and quiet riding experience it provides, as well as the adjustable resistance levels that cater to a variety of fitness needs. If you’re interested in a recumbent bike that has been well-received by its users, the Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike could be a great fit for your home gym.

two senior people exercising on recumbent bikes in a gym

If you’ve got a road bike you’re comfortable with, a bike trainer is a perfect stepping stone for getting into indoor riding. But if you have no experience, then stationary bikes are the most convenient option. You set it up to your height, and off you go. 

Now that the bikes are out of the way, what else might you need to begin your indoor cycling program journey?

All the Gear Sets You Up for Success

Gear does make a difference, and not just bike gears! Here are some essentials to make your cycling program and training space a success:

Bike shorts

Even when you’re cycling indoors, the importance of wearing appropriate gear cannot be overstated. Proper cycling attire, especially bib shorts, is designed to provide comfort and prevent common issues such as chafing, which can occur during long rides.

A good pair of bib shorts will fit snugly without being restrictive, offer support in the right areas, and come with padding (often referred to as a chamois) to cushion your sit bones. When it comes to choosing the right bib shorts, two brands that I often recommend are Castelli and Rapha.

Castelli bib shorts are known for their quality materials and excellent fit, ensuring that you’re comfortable throughout your ride. Rapha bibs are also a top choice for many cyclists, offering a combination of comfort, style, and durability.

Both brands have options that are perfect for indoor cycling, where ventilation and sweat management are key. Just because you’re not out on the road doesn’t mean you don’t need to dress for the occasion. Whether outdoor or indoor cycling, you must find the right bike shorts. That means shorts that fit well prevent chafing and help you sit longer. 

indoor cycling

Shoes and Cleats

You might not need cleats on a stationary bike, but if you’re using a bike trainer with a road bike, then cleats are a must. They are great for keeping your feet in place through each pedal stroke and transferring power efficiently. 

cycling shoes with 2 bolt and 3 bolt cleat fittings label


One of the major benefits of an indoor cycling workout is that you can zone out. This means you can pump up the music or watch your favorite shows while completing your workout. We also recommend looking at online group classes if you want to feel like you’re in the zone with others. 

Floor mat

The equipment can be heavy if you’re on a stationary bike or a bike trainer. It’s always best to protect your floors with a mat. It’s also great for preventing slipping and wiping up sweat. 


Once you’re up and running for cycling indoors, the sessions get longer, and the heat turns up, so it’s always best to have a fan on hand to keep the sweat off. 

riding an indoor bike turbo


You generally don’t need a towel when riding on the road, but for indoor cycling, it’s a must! Some like to get their sweat on, but it can get a bit uncomfortable without the breeze outside helping you out, so keep a towel within reach (and remember to wash it often!).

Thumbs up from the doctor

If you’re starting an indoor cycling routine to improve your health, getting the all-clear from your doctor is important. They can also help guide the duration and levels of routines to look into based on your health. 

Improve Your Indoor Cycling with these Top Picks

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just starting, the right gear can make all the difference in your indoor training experience. We’ve curated a list of must-have accessories that will enhance your performance, comfort, and hydration levels. Each of these products has been selected for its quality and effectiveness, and help you make the most out of your indoor cycling routine:

  • Stay Hydrated Effortlessly: Keep your thirst at bay with the Zefal 164 Water Bottle. Its generous capacity ensures you have enough water for even the most intense workouts, without constant refills.
  • Optimal Hydration Support: Keep your electrolyte levels in check and replenish what’s lost through sweat with Nuun Sport Hydration Tabs. They’re essential for maintaining hydration by replacing key minerals during indoor workouts.
  • Cooling Mastery on a Budget: The Sharper Image FLY 01 Fan delivers a strong, even airflow to keep you cool during intense indoor rides, with a space-saving design and convenient remote control, all at a fraction of the Headwind’s cost.
  • Smart Power Management: Simplify your indoor cycling setup with the Meross Smart Plug Power Strip to remotely control your fan and other accessories. This smart power strip pairs with an app or voice commands, like “Hey Siri, turn on my fan,” making powering on or off your Pain Cave gear effortless.
  • Train Like a Pro: Experience the realism and precision of the Wahoo KICKR CORE Turbo Trainer. It’s the ultimate training companion for serious cyclists aiming to push their limits.
  • Seamless Cycling Transitions: With LOOK Keo Classic Pedals, effortlessly switch from indoor to outdoor riding using the same footwear. No need to change shoes or cleats, just pedal on with convenience.
  • Secure Grip, No Slip: Lizard Skins Bar Tape is designed to tackle the challenge of sweaty palms during your rides. It offers a comfortable, non-slip surface for your hands without the stickiness common in other tapes, ensuring a confident hold on the handlebars at all times.

Beginning Your Workout

When you first start, the most important thing is not to overdo it. Consistency is key, and you can’t reach your milestones unless you choose a beginner’s workout for your aerobic fitness level and experience. 

There’s no point in hopping on your stationary bike and racing like a bat out of hell only to be stuck on the couch for three days afterward. 

So, before anything, find an indoor cycling workout you know you can do. In the beginning, you want something that is doable and won’t make you feel defeated. You want to keep the momentum up with a cycling training plan you can complete. 

It’s also important to set aside time for your training plan. One of the main reasons beginners stop their cycling training plan is because they make excuses for not having the time.

So, before you even look at the indoor cycling workouts, look at your schedule and decide how much time you can dedicate to your workout. 

Setting goals is also a must-do before finding your training plan. Once you have a clear and definitive goal, you are much more likely to put the work in to reach it. We recommend using SMART goals:

  • Specific: keep your goal very specific to what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Add in some measurable aspects like endurance level or weight.
  • Achievable: Don’t overshoot it; your goal should be within reach to avoid disappointment.
  • Relevant: Keep your goal relevant to what you want to achieve overall. 
  • Time-Bound: Your goal should have a time limit so you can measure the overall achievement. 

For example, I will ride my stationary bike for 20 minutes three times a week with at least a level two incline for six minutes to help me lose 11 lbs in eight weeks. 

As you can see, the goal is incredibly specific, and the intentions are set and achievable. A great way to implement SMART goals is to work with a vision board or affirmations. It keeps you going even when jumping on your bike is the last thing you want to do. But that set intention will get you there, so it’s important to keep things realistic. 

hydrating while cycling

You should also think about your energy levels throughout the day. Finding the perfect beginner indoor cycling training plan is all good and well, but it becomes a chore if you’re doing the workout when you have no energy. You should schedule indoor cycling when you have the time and energy to complete it. 

Finding a good warm-up routine is as important as finding the right indoor cycling program for beginners. Remember, you’ll be using a whole bunch of muscles you haven’t before, so get them warmed up before your indoor cycling routine. 

cyclist preparing for an indoor turbo ride

Switching up your indoor cycling workouts is also a good idea for beginners. It’s easy to find one and stick with it because it’s comfortable, but not having variety means you’re working the same muscles, and it can also get boring, which doesn’t help in the motivation department.

So, while you’re in the research phase of finding the right indoor cycling workouts for beginners, take the opportunity to pick two or three that you think align with your goals and that you might like to try. 

Consistency and Results

As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. The same could not be true for finding an indoor cycling routine and consistently using it to achieve your goals. 

At the start, it’s important to give your body time to adjust. That means taking things slow to feel how your body is responding. If you’re unable to walk straight for two days, then it’s time to slow down and adjust your indoor cycling training plan. 

Look, there’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself with intense workouts; it’s actually encouraged, but not for every single workout, and definitely not when you’re at the start of your indoor training journey. You need to give yourself enough time and space to get used to indoor cycling and all that comes with it. 

You also need to monitor your results. This isn’t to burst your bubble but to monitor whether your indoor training program is working for you. If you’re indoor cycling to lose weight, are your weigh-ins where you expect them to be? Or if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, have six weeks of training improved things? If not, why? 

Man writing in notebook his plans

Everyone is different, and what works for one might not for the next, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The first step is getting your consistency down so that you’re doing the workouts as set out in your goals. 

Breaks are a big part of consistency and form part of your overall indoor cycling training plan. Resting gives your body a chance to recover so that the next workout can be even better.

Getting a consistent balance of breaks and working up sweat leads to a much healthier workout program that you can maintain. 

cyclist looking tired after indoor cycling workout

Tips for Choosing the Right Indoor Cycling Program

You should choose a program that fits your:

  • Fitness level: You have to start somewhere. Select a program that suits your fitness level and won’t have you replacing date night with an ice bath. 
  • Goals: Your program needs to help you reach your SMART goals. 
  • Availability: This is where the scheduling comes in; you need time to do the program. 
  • Training needs: If you need more detailed guidance, find a program with that available.
  • Top tip: Look at the different cycling training styles and find a trainer you think will work for you. 

Next Steps: How to Get Started with Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling is fantastic for your physical and mental well-being. But if you need more convincing, here are some benefits of indoor cycling. You might be surprised; it’s not only about the health advantages. 

Also, if you are moving over from road riding, you might find the differences between outdoor and indoor cycling quite interesting. 

As a beginner, we understand that getting to everything before you start can be daunting. Why not keep it simple with the best cycling apps for indoor training, where you can monitor your progress? 


How long should my workout be when starting with indoor cycling?

It depends on your overall fitness, but generally, it’s best to start slow and work your way up. A 15-30 minute workout three days a week is a good place to start for all fitness levels. 

Are there different types of indoor cycling workouts?

Yes, there are different types of indoor training programs, including interval training, endurance rides, strengthening, and hill climbs, to name a few. 

What is the best cycling workout for beginners?

The best cycling workout for beginners often combines easy rides and interval training. Here’s a simple plan:

  • Warm-Up (10 minutes): Start at an easy pace to warm your muscles up.
  • Easy Ride (20 minutes): Maintain a steady but comfortable pace. This should feel like a 5/10 on an effort scale.
  • Intervals (20 minutes): Alternate between 2 minutes of faster riding (7/10 effort) and 2 minutes of easy riding (5/10 effort).
  • Cool Down (10 minutes): Slow your pace gradually to allow your heart rate to decrease.

Is 20 minutes of indoor cycling enough?

A 20-minute indoor cycling session can be beneficial. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) within this timeframe can boost cardiovascular health, burn calories, and build endurance. As fitness improves, consider increasing workout duration or intensity. Consistency and quality are key.


Photo of author


Kier focuses on improving all things bike, and is always looking to take his ability to a new average (hopefully a higher one!). When not on the bike Kier is normally downing coffee and cake.
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