High Resistance Cycling Benefits (Everything You Need to Know!)

For a newbie especially, it is sometimes difficult to choose between going for a full on pumped session or slow pedaling. Contrary to what many people would think, fast pedaling does not necessarily translate to more burned calories and overall fitness. In fact, indoor cycling at low resistance levels at really high speeds might just lead to unnecessary straining and overuse of muscles. The real deal is in high resistance cycling.

High resistance cycling is not something you can go for on a whim. It is something you should work towards as it highly requires consistency. It also depends on which muscles you want to be toned and your calorie burn target. Once you settle for it, it should also not be too high that the pedals are barely moving. The standard resistance is somewhere between fast pedaling that does not take any toll on your muscles and extreme resistance.

Here are the unique benefits that come with cycling at high resistance even if at low speeds

Tones your muscles

High resistance cycling benefits

High resistance cycling is like training your muscles at a slower speed but with heavier intensity. One of the many benefits of high resistance cycling is that it is great for a complete neuromuscular and cardiovascular workout. By pedaling at high resistance, you are forcing your body to use a lot of effort to work your muscles and push for results. This leads to toning of muscles around your abs, quads, calves and knees.

Most indoor bikes result in toning of your lower body. For instance, high resistance works your leg muscles. Other equipment like a rower pushes you to flex your upper body muscles with every workout. On these you get to tone your lower body and upper especially muscles around your shoulders, your biceps and triceps.

Whether you are sitting on a stationary bike like the elliptical or riding on a rower, cycling engages your gluteus (glutes), core, quadriceps, calves and hamstring. With proper consistent training, you can expect toned muscles around your thighs, hips, abs and shoulders as well.

High number of calories burned per minute

In a regular session, you can lose between 400-800 calories per hour when riding on indoor bikes. When you up the resistance levers, you achieve right about the same number of burned calories. This is because at high resistance you can only be able to manage moderate cadence continuously. More than that could lead to extreme fatigue and even the risk of other injuries.

While that might sound like a downer for some, the number of calories lost is well worth the effort. In the process, you are also increasing your strength and endurance as well. Higher resistance also gradually leads to better form, pedal stroke and riding-specific power.

With a proper workout plan, another benefit is weight loss

If you stick to a proper diet, you can easily lose weight on an intense workout program. You can do this by working to burn more calories than you eat. This is all with the factors considered such as your weight, health status and goals.

According to the stats, you can lose between 400-800 calories per hour. This means more burned fats around your stomach if that is your goal. High resistance is therefore an excellent option for weight loss that is rewarding. If you are specifically targeting weight loss with high resistance cycling, here is a draft of a plan you can tweak to your level.

Step one is to get into a warm up session for about 10 minutes. Stretch out your body so that you reduce your recovery time after an intense workout. The second step is to start pedaling at a low intensity for around 10 minutes while working yourself up the levers. Then switch to medium intensity for 3-5 minutes. After that, move to high resistance for the rest of your workout. Depending on how you will be feeling, you can alternate between high and medium intensity every so often. This is a sure way to lose weight because with continuous training, you will be able to ride at high resistance longer.

Also, remember that going hard on a high resistance workout does not necessarily mean more calories burned than one at a slower pace. Take yourself easily and cycle according to your fitness level.

High resistance cycling benefits

Helps you build better endurance

Indoor bikes are low impact workout sessions. They are easy on the legs, thighs and knees. Despite this, you can high resistance greatly helps in working your core and your endurance.

High resistance cycling is a real aerobic and cardio workout that pushes you to greater heights in terms of your strength. With high resistance training, you will get a boost to your stamina and strength levels as well. You do not need to go hard on high resistance cycling all the time for this. Even with interval training, you can greatly build your endurance.

Improves your general wellness

It goes without saying that high resistance cycling boosts your overall health. For one, it is a way to really get your cardio going. High resistance improves your heart health and how oxygenated blood flows through your body. It lowers your blood pressure.

Some of the other benefits are it gives you the right does of all the feel-good hormones. During high resistance exercise, endorphins are released. You get a better mood and sleep pattern because of this hormone. With this resistance, you also get more energy. Lower stress levels are yet another bonus.

If you are also looking to build up your immune system, a good high resistance workout helps in that.  High resistance also increases your lung capacity.

Gives you the closest feel to the outdoor terrain

If you are looking for a tad more than a stroll simulation, a high resistance is it. Yet another benefit of high resistance is that it gives you a more intense workout like riding outdoors.

Safety Tips

Before you go big on high resistance and fast cadence, there are a few factors you need to consider for your safety.

First, you need to be physically fit enough to go for high resistance. Also, find your own tempo first before going for high intensity on your first try at cycling. With different levels of resistance available, one can easily choose whether they want a session that feels like a walk in the park or one that really pulls at all your muscles. If you choose to go for high resistance that is like climbing up a hill, you can be assured of a better workout. However, it does take a toll on your body if you are not fit enough for it.

For the best of both worlds, you can switch between high and low at set intervals. There are many workout plans that have detailed instructions. One easy plan is to do 30 seconds of high resistance cycling then switch to lower resistance for one minute.

Also, get your well-deserved rest after working out. According to fitness experts, you should leave two to three days of the week free for recovery. Going too hard can place a lot of stress on your muscles when they have not recovered yet. High resistance is a strength and endurance exercise. You can only get satisfying results if you incorporate rest days into your training.

You can also use a heart rate monitor to check whether high resistance is efficient for you. High resistance can heighten any heart issues. Check with your doctor if you have any heart problems. Clear with the medics first before going into this type of cycling.

Final tip is that you need to take plenty of water throughout. Keeping yourself hydrated with water that has added minerals and electrolytes especially help. According to fitness experts, for every minute you spend on the bike, you should take an ounce of water. Always keep your water bottle nearby so that you avoid dehydration.


A longer workout session at moderate intensity still beats out a short, intense workout at high resistance. For the added mood boost, you can consider enrolling in an indoor cycling class. While there, have a professional trainer assess whether the resistance is challenging enough yet strain free.

Also, consider interval training so that you do not overwork your muscles with constant pushing. An example of effective work is to go high for 30 seconds then do lower resistance for 1 minute every once in a while. Over time, you can increase your intervals one minute at a time.

In a nutshell, the benefits of high resistance cycling are stronger muscles, better heart health, weight loss and overall wellness. For better sleep and energy levels, you will not go wrong with high resistance as well. For a complete body workout, consider lifting weights or using dumbbells because cycling greatly adds to your lower body progress.