Peloton is taking over the world.
The exercise equipment and media company that was founded in 2012 is now valued at over $4 billion. The basic Peloton bike costs a cool $2,245, but you’ll also need to fork over nearly $40 a month to unlock the bike’s best features, such as live streams of classes from the company’s physical studios in New York City. It’s not cheap, but many people swear by the addictive nature of the high-octane classes and the quality of the bike.
But is a Peloton bike alone enough to build the body of your dreams? Probably not. The vast majority of Americans can experience significant health benefits from performing Peloton workouts on a regular basis. There’s zero doubt about that. It’s in no way a “bad” workout—at a time when less than a quarter of American adults are achieving the recommended level of physical activity, indoor cycling beats the hell out of sitting on the couch. Indoor cycling will help overweight and obese people lose fat, it will improve endurance, and it will confer a plethora of additional physical/mental benefits.
However, if your only form of exercise is indoor cycling, you may not be on your way to the body composition of your dreams. I, of course, cannot speak for you, but muscle mass and body tone are becoming increasingly desired among both sexes. For example, research has found “the long-held ideal female figure of extreme thinness is (changing) to include enhanced muscle tone.” Indoor cycling classes may build a bit of muscle, particularly in your quads, but resistance training is a much more effective way to add muscle mass. And no, moving around those teeny-tiny weights for a million reps at the end of your ride doesn’t really qualify as resistance training.
Just look at trainer Ben Bruno and the exercises he does with celebrity clients like Kate Upton, Chelsea Handler and Jessica Biel. That’s real strength training! Due to a process called sarcopenia, men and women can lose anywhere between 30-50% of their muscle strength between the ages of 30 and 80. In a 2015 interview with AMNY, Peloton founder John Foley revealed the average Peloton bike buyer is 46 years old. There are few people on the planet who wouldn’t experience body composition benefits by getting stronger, and indoor cycling classes don’t do much to move the needle there.
It’s also really difficult to improve your posture and core strength, two areas where most Americans are sorely lacking, while sitting on a bike. Additionally, too much cardio can put you at risk of becoming “skinny fat.” Over time, lots of long, steady-state (or mostly steady-state) cardio can see your muscles become smaller and more efficient. More efficient sounds great in theory—and it is if you’re going to be competing in endurance competitions—but in this case, it means less muscle mass and a slower metabolism.
Adding two or three legit strength training days a week to your routine instead of indoor cycling five or six times a week can do wonders for your body. Can indoor cycling help in your quest for a better body? For sure. But if it’s all you’re doing to achieve that goal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. For more info on this topic, read our article Why Indoor Cycling Probably Won’t Make You Fit.
Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images