Indoor cycling vs. Outdoor cycling – Which is Best?

Ah, the great debate. Which is better – indoor or outdoor cycling? Like all great questions, there are a wealth of factors to consider when deciding who to side with. The indoor vs. outdoor argument is an old one, so if you’re not sure, here’s a side by side argument of the benefits of both indoor cycling and outdoor that should help you figure it out.

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Heart Rate

Indoor Cycling

Anyone who has ever been to an indoor cycling class can tell you that your heart rate will skyrocket through the workout, and the health benefits of indoor cycling are obvious by the amount you sweat.

The fast pace, loud music, and peer competition will mean that your body pushes itself to the limits. It’s because of this that your heart rate will achieve between 75 – 95% of its maximum consistently throughout the workout.

That basically means, you’ll be burning more calories at a faster pace, and the high intensity will also accelerate fat burning.

Outdoor Cycling

Okay, so you won’t be achieving the maximum heart rate on your daily commute, and although the pros can often intensify their workouts, most beginners are too focused on balance and avoiding traffic to fully commit to their cycle.

However, what you do get is a much more whole body workout as all of your muscles are being tested as your body adapts to different paces, terrains and surroundings.

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Indoor Cycling

Although the trainer will do his or her best to keep the workout varied and interesting, the stationary motion can get quite boring. If you’re cycling alone in the gym, you’re even more likely to get fed up and call it a day.

The boredom of indoor bike riding can also lead to complacency, meaning you stop pushing yourself, and don’t quite get the workout you, or your body were hoping for.

Outdoor Cycling

Even on your basic commute, you’ll get a variety of surrounding and terrains. The new challenges mean it’s much easier to stay sharp and focused.

Often, you’ll be working a variety of muscles without even realizing it, as your body attempts to adapt to the different terrains and gradients.

These consistent challenges, alongside the use of a variety of muscles mean that your overall calorie burn will be much higher than if you were sat alone peddling along.

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Indoor Cycling

It’s pretty obvious that indoor cycling is much easier to manage, and convenience is one of the swaying indoor cycling benefits. You can dress specifically for the gym, drive to your class, do the workout and head home. The discipline needed to get yourself to the gym however, can prove to be your downfall.

It takes quite a bit of mental strength to prepare yourself for the repetition of indoor cycling every evening, and the monotony of it can mean that you’ll often find yourself talking yourself out of it.

Outdoor Cycling

Okay, so we know that it can be a pain. Lugging your bike around, dressing for the journey, taking spare clothes, it can all get a bit much. However, once you get into a routine, it’ll almost be second nature, and the option of avoiding the dull and frustrating traffic is always a plus.

Besides, by the time you get home that evening, you’ll have already done enough of a work out for the day, and it’s much harder to talk yourself out of it if it’s the only way you can get home.


So who wins? Honestly, we don’t know. Both outdoor and indoor cycling have a lot of exercise benefits, and only you can settle the old outdoor vs. indoor argument if you give them a go, and of course let us know!

We’re a little biased obviously, but what it comes down to is what you prefer. If you do choose outdoor cycling however, and you want to protect your bike from thieves, find out more about Litelok here.

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