Maybe it’s pouring down rain, or the dead of winter. Maybe your significant other is out of town and you’re on lockdown with the tiny humans, with only a home gym to keep yourself moving. You’re having a staredown with your home gym. You’ve got a stationary bike or a bicycle on a trainer or a treadmill at your disposal. Which should you choose when it comes to a treadmill vs bike?
Scenario number two: You join a gym. There are two classes offered within your workout timeframe. You can take a spin class or an interval class on the treadmill. Which should you choose?
Spin classes come in many different formats. Sometimes the instructor dims the lights and verbally guides you through a ride. You might start out easy, then slowly pick it up to a tempo you can hold for a longer period of time before cooling down.
Other spin classes come in the form of high-intensity interval training. You might find yourself warming up then suddenly moving quickly at the command to, “sprint!”. That sprint interval is followed by another interval of easier pedaling for recovery.
Spin classes can include jumps, where you pop off of the saddle (another term for the seat). You may be told to sit at the edge of the seat or to ease your bottom all the way back. The different positions are meant to work different muscle groups.
A spin class typically ends with a gentle ride, then some easy stretching. You gently get out of the saddle then finish stretching off of the bike.
Cycling at Home or in a Gym
If you’re at home or a member of a big box gym, you may be in charge of your own workout. You can find many workouts online. Some fancy stationary bikes have workouts you can download that replicate varying roads and terrains. The road gets harder and easier based on if you are going up or down hills throughout the scene before you.
You can also create your own interval workout. It takes just a few minutes to find some HIIT workouts for cyclists. Anything you do in a spin class can be replicated on your own.
What shouldn’t you do? Avoid just jumping on the bike and gently pedaling. Unless you are new in your fitness journey, warming up or cooling down, that’s a waste of your time. Make your workout time purposeful.
Benefits of Spinning or Cycling
Spending time on the bike has some significant advantages.
✓ Less impact: Cycling is easy on your joints. It is an excellent, zero-impact workout.
✓ Cross-training: If you are a runner, cycling is an exceptional way to cross-train! You can cycle the day after your long run and give your legs a break from the pounding.
✓ Group rides: Sure, this is once you are out of the gym on a real bicycle… but group rides are a fun, social workout activity.
✓ Transportation and exercise: You certainly can run to work, but how long does it take and how sweaty are you when you arrive?
If you cycle to work, chances are good you can still get to work relatively quickly, change into work clothes neatly stowed away in your backpack, and be behind your desk before you know it.
Treadmill HIIT Group Classes
Treadmill group classes are one of the highest growing things in fitness. Why? Many people don’t push themselves on the treadmill like they might on a track. People often find treadmills to be boring and solitary. Let’s face it, not many people enjoy the hamster wheel.
HIIT treadmill classes are a flashback to cross country fartleks. Remember running in a circle around a soccer field and having to pick up the pace each time the coach blasted the whistle? That’s what TM-HIIT is like. Coach yells to pick it up, you pick it up.
The trainer might tell you a certain perceived effort. “Okay ladies, we are facing three minutes at 85-90% perceived effort.” Or the trainer might tell you to transition to, “Two minutes at mile pace on three, two, one.” And off you go.
Treadmills On Your Own
What if you don’t have access to a treadmill class? Sure, you could just schlep along at your easy pace. Heck, you might even pull out a decent run at a solid effort. But if you’re looking to challenge yourself and keep things interesting, insert some intervals.
Some easy ways to do this include listening along to Nike’s Running Club App. The coaches of Nike will coach you through runs as short as seventeen minutes and as long as 13.1 miles. Some of these workouts are inspirational where you listen to an elite talk through their life, some help you to build mind space and others hammer you through interval repeats or ladders. All of them keep your brain busy and your body moving!
Benefits of Treadmill Running
✓ Reduced impact – Because of the cushioned track, treadmills offer more cushion than running outdoors.
✓ Convenience – For many reasons people love the convenience of a treadmill. If you have small children or work odd hours, your treadmill is convenient.
✓ Climate – The weather is always good by your treadmill! Whether you are hiding from a northern winter and ice, or the heat of southern Florida, or torrential rain, a treadmill helps you avoid the elements.
✓ Safety – Treadmill safety can be considered in a couple of ways. First, if your only time to run is late at night or early in the morning, you may be hesitant to run outside alone. A treadmill offers you an alternative. Also, some people find intervals feel safer on the treadmill.
✓ Privacy – New runners often tend to find a treadmill to be secure and safe, and it feels easier to explore the world of running indoors.
✓ All the same benefits as bunning – Treadmill running affords you everything outdoor running does. Great cardiovascular exercise, building bone density, burning calories, and building strength. Running does all of these things. Plus, it’s good for your mental health.
To Run or To Cycle: That is the Question?
Truthfully, when asking yourself if you should run or cycle, it is not a simple answer. Partly, it depends on what your goals are. If it’s a Monday and you have run long on Sunday, perhaps you should cycle. If you’re looking for a quick way to kill 30 minutes and burn maximum calories, a HIIT treadmill workout might be the best choice.
There are definite benefits to both treadmills and stationary bikes, running outdoors and riding a bicycle in the sunshine. For most athletes, it is in your best interest to mix it up a little and spend some time doing both.