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10 Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises  Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

 The stationary bike trainer is one of the best tools in your training arsenal.

The highly controlled environment provided by a stationary trainer makes it one of the most effective ways to improve your cycling power.

The trainer allows your workouts to be guided by variables like time, gearing, cadence, power and heart rate, making it much easier to execute precise, repeatable intervals.

Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

The trainer also eliminates variables found in outdoor workouts – like terrain, weather, traffic, etc. – allowing you to focus solely on the work you are performing.

Today, we’re going to walk you through 10 specific exercises you can do on a trainer. To learn more about how you can put these exercises into an effective off-season, base-building progression, check out the links at the bottom of this post.

Trainer Session Layout

Each workout is intended to last roughly 75 minutes in duration. With the duration static, the workouts are designed to progress with a higher and higher workload with each successive workout.

The basic layout of every workout includes a warm-up to gradually elevate the HR (heart rate) (appx. 15-20 minutes), two to three exercises make up the main-set of the workout (appx. 45-50 minutes), and a cool-down spin to bring the HR back into normal resting ranges (appx. 5-10 minutes).

Each exercise has a specific duration, cadence, gearing, HR and power guideline to follow.

The Exercises

Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

1. Spin-Ups: 

Spin-Ups are used both as a warm-up exercise and for leg-speed development. With Spin-Ups you increase your pedaling speed very slowly, but steadily, concentrating on keeping a uniform pedal stroke. 

These should be performed in your easiest gear with very little resistance.

HR is to not exceed your AeT HR (aerobic threshold heart rate). If your HR gets too high, lighten the resistance on your trainer or cease cadence increase until you improve your economy over the next several sessions.

2. Isolated Leg Training (ILT):

This exercise is both a leg strengthener and pedaling efficiency improver. You will unclip one leg and rest it on the back of your trainer (or let it dangle), while pedaling with the other leg.

Complete the interval, clip the resting leg back in, pedal easy for a minute, and repeat with the other leg. That is one rep (one left-leg interval, followed by one right-leg interval).

The “dead spot” will be noticeable, if not immediately, after a minute or two of the interval. This is where you are not applying force to the pedals and wasting energy. After several sessions your pedaling stroke will become noticeably smoother and “rounder.”

3. Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Intervals:  2-3 Hour Power 

To train the Aerobic Energy System, you want to target your AeT HR. You will pedal in a self-selected gearing/cadence to achieve the target HR. Power will be approximately 85% of FTP (Functional Threshold Power i.e. the power you could sustain for one hour) at this effort level.

Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

4. Aerobic-Strength Intervals:  

As your aerobic fitness improves you can add “hills” to your intervals for added strength benefits.

“Climbing” on the trainer can be achieved by elevating your front wheel above the rear with a trainer block, block of wood, stack of books or whatever method you choose.

This elevated position engages slightly different muscles and simulates climbing on the road. With this exercise you will sit or stand and pedal, as in climbing a hill.

This exercise builds both strength and aerobic fitness. The gearing is near your largest gear (high resistance), producing a cadence between 50 and 60 rpm.

You will plod along at this low-cadence while changing hand positions every few minutes, from hoods and drops, to engage different muscles and keep things interesting.


5.Stand & Surge:

Once you have built up your “climbing” strength and endurance, you begin to elevate your HR a bit more with the addition of surges.

These surges are slight increases in cadence over the “normal” climbing cadence you’ve been using to this point. In the last few minutes of your regular Strength Climb, you will surge by raising your cadence between 10 and 20 rpms for the last 15 seconds of each minute prescribed in the workout.

This acceleration will increase your power output for 15 seconds and raise your HR several beats.

The surge is not a sprint or attack, but rather a quick increase in cadence. HR should rise to and slightly above your AeT HR by the last few. Again, this is not intended to be an all-out effort, just a simple introduction to a higher power workload.

In between 15-second surges you will return to your Steady Strength cadence and your HR will recover partially before the next surge.

With each surge your HR will rise slightly higher than the previous. Upon the completion of the final surge, stop pedaling completely, sit down and note your “peak HR.”

Watch your HR fall and note how quickly it drops to below 100 bpm. Over the course of the series you should see your HR drop faster from higher peak HR indicating improved aerobic fitness.

 Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

6. 6 to 8-minute AnT intervals: 32-64:00 Power 

These intervals touch on your anaerobic system by using more carbohydrates. You will focus on raising your cadence slightly each minute to achieve a gradually higher workload.

These are the “comfortably hard” intervals of the series just under and right up to your FTP power (90-100%). Your HR objective is to reach your AnT HR (anaerobic threshold heart rate) by the end of each interval.

First adjust cadence to achieve desired HR (between 90 and 100 rpm), before selecting a different gear if necessary.

Recovery time is half the duration of the interval, allowing for 3 minutes of recovery between successive intervals.

As with the completion of the final surge in the Stand & Surge above, upon the completion of your final AnT Interval of a workout, stop pedaling completely and note your “peak HR.”

Watch your HR fall and note how quickly it drops to below 100 bpm. Over the course of the series you should see your HR drop faster from higher peak HR indicating improved aerobic fitness.

7. 1 to 4-minute Vo2 Intervals:  8:00 to 16:00 Power

With Vo2s (the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense, or maximal exercise) you get to open it up even further with shorter intervals going above your FTP. These are the painful ones!

You will perform these intervals again using cadence as a means to increase the workload throughout the intervals. Although these intervals are short, they will get your HR up over your AnT HR.

The goal is not to work any harder than necessary, but to hit your cadence and gearing targets of 90-105 rpm. Your HR should not exceed more than 5-8 beats over your AnT HR.

Power levels will be in the 110-120% FTP range. Any more than that and you are working too hard for this objective requiring more recovery and lost training time.

Allow equal recovery durations between successive intervals.

Upon the completion of your final Vo2 Interval, stop pedaling completely and note your “peak HR”. Watch your HR fall and note how quickly it drops to below 100 bpm. Over the course of the series you should see your HR drop faster from higher peak HR indicating improved aerobic fitness.

 Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

8. 15-30-60-Second Anaerobic Power Intervals:  1:00, 2:00 & 4:00 Power

Now you’re bringing the power! These short bouts of intensity reach 130% to 190% of FTP.

As the power increases the duration of the intervals continue to get shorter, and recovery times become longer.

Gearing and cadence are now self-selected allowing you to go hard and simply focus on hitting the target power levels.

Recovery durations are now 3x the length of the interval allowing for near full recovery before the next interval.

HR becomes irrelevant due to the short duration of the intervals. Despite the high effort, these intervals don’t hurt too badly since they are over by the time they start to hurt!

9. Peak Power Sprints:  0:05 Power! 

This is the second to last progression in the metabolic energy system chain (with movement strength (ie. weight lifting) being the last link in the chain) – anaerobic power at its finest. No oxygen needed!

These intervals are performed in a larger gear from a stand still or slight “rolling start.” You kick hard and crank up to full power over 5-10 seconds. You’re done as soon as you peak the cadence out and/or reach peak power for the effort. Power will jump towards 300% of FTP!

Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises   Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness

10. Steady Spin & Spin Down:

This is your cool-down exercise. The Steady Spins gives you a chance to spin your legs out, get some fresh blood in there and begin the recovery process.

You are back in your easiest gear with minimal resistance. Hold the specific rpm listed in the workout (or slightly higher if you like) for the time prescribed.

HR should maybe reach the lower limits of your AeT HR Zone. Adjust resistance (or lower cadence) as needed.

After the extended time spinning, you begin to gradually bring the cadence down (along with HR) with the Spin Down.

Bring your cadence back down to 80 rpm over a few minutes until you are breathing normally and no longer perspiring. Wipe the sweat off your face and body, grab your recovery drink and call your workout finished!

 Stationary Bike Trainer Exercises

 Photo provided by Wahoo Fitness


Interested seeing how these exercises fit into a comprehensive off-season base-building training plan? Check out the links below.

Download via Training Peaks:

24-week Off-Season Base Builder Program: Cycling Only

24-week Off-Season Base Builder Program: Cycling & Strength

12-week Off-season Base Builder Program: Cycling Only

12-week Off-Season Base Builder Program: Cycling & Strength

All Programs include:

  • Full Testing Protocol and Training Zone Calculator to identify HR and Power zones and track progress.
  • Structured training sessions uploadable to your app of choice (Zwift, Wahoo, Garmin, Trainer Road, etc.)
  • All the strength training details, including videos and set/rep schemes and calculated loads specific to your ability (if applicable)


This article was written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training PlansTeam Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

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