It’s a question that plagues nearly every runner and cyclist during training – can I get the same workout on a stationary bike or treadmill? The answer in short is no. Stationary bikes and treadmills don’t provide the same outdoor elements that one can get when doing the “real thing”, however, this does not mean they don’t offer a good workout.
Treadmills differ more from running outside than stationary bikes do from cycling. Some of the luxuries of running on a treadmill, as opposed to outside, include the shock absorbency factor, the “propelling” motion the treadmill belt offers and, of course, no weather conditions to deal with. Treadmills can be great when doing speed work (especially because you can set an exact pace), but if training for an outdoor distance race it is wise to do at least a couple of your weekly runs in the conditions you’ll actually be racing in; this way you can train your body to be prepared for the terrain, the road surface, the wind and any other weather for that matter. One way to assimilate a road run on a treadmill is to increase the incline – this mimics the resistance one would be getting without the automatic propelled treadmill belt.
Stationary and Exercise bikes are more similar to actual cycling, however, I still believe outdoors is the way to go, and here’s why: Stationary bikes are boring, it’s just a fact. Even if you’re plugged into an iPod or a TV it’s just not the same. One of the reasons cycling is so popular is because of the experience it offers. The sights and sounds during a bike ride just offer more, enough said. Now, in addition to the obvious, there are a couple other differences between cycling and stationary bikes, terrain being one of them. Terrain is something that cannot be imitated on a stationary and often something that can unexpectedly change during a ride or race – the change in resistance on an exercise bike can only offer so much. Also, bicycles are customizable and can offer a more comfortable ride for long distances.
While exercise bikes and treadmills may not be exactly like the actual experience, they can still offer a great workout (and a break from the heat!) How do you prefer to get your training in? Weigh in on this topic @austinfit or on our facebook page.