Avoid Exercise Plateaus With Indoor Cycling Synergy Workouts

These cross-training workouts will keep your routine fresh

Woman strength training in studio
Simone Becchetti/Stocksy United

If you’re an indoor cycling junkie, you might be inclined to make it your go-to form of exercise, day after day. After all, it’s a fantastic workout, it’s fun and it is set to energizing music. But doing the same physical activity every single day isn’t a good idea, even if you love it, because it can lead to overuse injuries, burnout, boredom or fatigue. And as your body adapts to the activity, it will become harder to get results; you could even hit an exercise plateau.

That’s where cross-training comes in, an approach that relies on several different workout strategies to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. Cross-training is one of the best ways to add variety to any exercise program, including indoor cycling. It’ll enhance your overall fitness, keep you motivated, help you avoid injuries and prevent your workout life from getting stale.

There are many different ways to cross-train—with different forms of cardiovascular exercise, strength or resistance training and flexibility-enhancing exercises. To prevent muscle imbalances, your best bet is to incorporate all three types into your regimen.

It’s also wise to do other workouts that will have a synergistic effect with indoor cycling. For example, to build cardiovascular endurance while using different muscle groups, good complementary workouts include running or jogging, brisk walking, swimming, deep water running, rowing, skating or using the elliptical machine.

To build muscle strength and endurance in your upper and lower body, you could do calisthenics, use free weights weight machines, kettlebells or resistance bands.

To enhance overall flexibility, choose a stretching workout, yoga, tai chi or a Pilates mat class. The stretching element is especially important because certain muscle groups—such as the hip flexors, the IT (illiotibial) band, and trapezius and latissimus dorsi in the back—can become particularly tight with indoor cycling so be sure to include back stretches.

 

To incorporate these other activities into your exercise regimen, you could switch up your activities from one day to the next by doing indoor cycling one day, swimming the next, doing indoor cycling and strength training the following day, taking a Pilates mat class the next day and so on. 

Let’s look at the specific benefits of seven synergistic forms of exercise:

  • Running uses many of the same muscles as indoor cycling does and it engages your core muscles. It’s a great way to enhance your stamina. The same is true of jogging and brisk walking, which involve less impact and tend to be less physically challenging.
  • Swimming is an excellent cross-training exercise for indoor cyclists because it puts your entire body to use—your arms, your legs, your shoulders and back and your abs. Plus, it provides stellar cardiovascular training while being non-impact. Deep-water running provides a good, low-impact cardiovascular workout, too.
  • Rowing at a vigorous pace, whether it’s outside or on a rowing machine, is a great cardiovascular workout. It strengthens the lower body and the upper body, especially the quads (in the front of your thighs), hips, glutes, upper and lower back and shoulders. 
  • Skating relies on a striding motion that’s similar to the optimal gliding motion used in indoor cycling, which means you’ll be challenging similar muscles that are used in both activities. Whether it’s done on ice or pavement, skating is a particularly great low-impact workout for the quads and the glutes. As an added bonus, it can enhance agility and muscle power.
  • The elliptical machine also relies on a gliding motion, so it works similar muscle groups as indoor cycling. Depending on the amount of resistance and incline you have on the machine, and the pace at which you use it, you can get a cardio workout that’s similar to indoor cycling and running.
  • Pilates, a mind-body workout that emphasizes proper posture and breathing and precise movements can help you gain flexibility in your muscles, greater range of motion in your joints and a stronger core, from which to generate power in your pedal strokes. If you’re prone to back pain, developing a strong core is essential.
  • Yoga, another mind-body practice, enhances muscle strength, flexibility and mental focus. It can be particularly helpful for indoor cyclists because many of the poses target the hip flexors, hamstrings and lower back, areas that can become particularly tight in cyclists. Poses like Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog and Warrior One can provide welcome relief. Yoga can also be a great complement to indoor cycling because other poses target muscles in the chest, upper back and arms, areas that don’t get much attention with indoor cycling.

Ultimately, adding different forms of movement to your indoor cycling regimen can help you strengthen opposing muscles throughout your body, prevent injuries and gain power and stamina. In true synergistic fashion, the combined effect of these benefits is greater than the sum of the individual perks because you’ll be able to ride better and with greater enthusiasm.

Continue Reading