Indoor versus Outdoor Cycling: Which One Is for You?

Cycling is a wonderful sport and undoubtedly a great way to exercise, but anyone exploring the possibility of getting into the hobby is often trumped by the need to choose between indoor and outdoor cycling.

If you want a fast—and common—answer, it would come down to why you want to cycle in the first place. A lot of people who start looking into cycling simply want to improve their fitness and, in this case, indoor cycling is the best choice.

Most indoor bikes are equipped with a flywheel, a mechanism that provides the resistance as you pedal. This can be adjusted, depending on how fast you want to cycle. Once you get the wheel spinning, you’ll most likely don’t have to exert much effort. Pedaling with indoor bikes requires work from your hamstring muscles or the backs of your legs alone.

On the contrary, when you’re cycling on the road, you’re working against friction and wind resistance. This means much of the work comes from your hips and the front of your thigh.

That’s just the shallow part. If you’re still stuck with the dilemma and want to learn more, read on and find out about the major differences between indoor and outdoor cycling.

Fitness

Another major advantage of cycling indoors aside from its hamstring stretches is its good cardiovascular benefit. A good heart is a sign of good health.

However, when you’re focusing on burning calories, indoor cycling may be the lesser choice between the two. As previously mentioned, the flywheel on an indoor bike does much of the work.

Comparatively, cardiovascular training can go more or less when you’re cycling outdoors. Pedaling fast, however, will depend on the terrain, and plenty of cyclists have friction to worry about—that they don’t usually get the speeds normally attempted in many indoor cycling classes.

When it comes to burning calories, more muscles are usually involved when maneuvering a bike on the move. This makes it perfect for those who are aiming to lose weight.

Weather

If you’re looking for routine exercise, indoor bikes never fail. You can always pedal whatever the climate. Unlike biking outdoors, you can go at it whenever you want, and your only capital is the day’s motivation.

Some people try to cycle outdoors even in extreme conditions, but it always comes with a caveat. If you’re not an experienced rider, it’s always safer to save the ride for a nicer day or when there are lesser chances of meeting hapless situations on the road.

Difficulty

Generally, indoor bikes are more low impact than outdoor bikes are simply for the fact that it’s easy to adjust them depending on how fast you want to go or the goals you set for yourself. They also use fewer muscle tissues than you use when cycling outdoors, where you have to manage through both resistance and the changing terrains.

Convenience

If indoor cycling classes are part of your routine exercise, preparation is most likely no less of a hassle than going through your typical gym schedule is. But when you’re cycling indoors, there are a lot of other logistic considerations involved. This includes consulting the weather forecast beforehand, noting that you don’t have any other obligations for the day, getting your power meters, headgear, and get up readied, checking the health of your bike, and dealing with signs on the road.

Mental Experience

When you’re outdoors, it’s refreshing to enjoy the beauty of landscapes, all while testing your physical energy to the limit. You are exposed to various stimuli, forcing you to pay attention to every detail on the horizon: the pedestrians, the cars, and even other cyclists on the road.

Comparably, while cycling indoors, the motivation provided by changing landscapes is often replaced with good music and good instruction from your instructors and other members of the class.

Final Word

At the end of the day, the decision of whether to choose indoor or outdoor cycling all boils down to your main goal and your appetite for adventure. While both indoor and outdoor cycling activities help you sculpt a healthy physique, not everyone is ready to tackle the often-unpredictable nature of cycling outdoors.

Still, if you’ve been cycling indoors for a long time, you may want to try out outdoor cycling and see if the change in routine is something you’d like to know more about. A lot of cyclists get hooked to the thrill of the outdoors, especially when they find a community with the same spirits and enthusiasm.