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Whether you’re a Peloton addict, spinner, indoor cyclist or exercise bike lover, the one thing we all have in common is desperately trying to stay hydrated during workouts.
Outdoor cyclists think they’ve got it tough – you’ll see many cyclists with at least a couple bidons (the fancy name for a bike bottle) strapped to their two-wheeled machines. Cycle indoors on any type of spin bike though and you’ll soon see that it can get much sweatier much faster. The reason? Well, that’s the lack of air flow. Cycle outside and you’ll have a breeze moving past you as you pedal along. This works like your own personal aircon – cooling and drying your sweaty bits. Inside however you don’t get that cooling breeze and so the temperature you feel can rise rapidly. Sure you can manage this by getting a powerful fan for your exercise bike, dialling up the air-conditioning or opening a window, but you’ll still lose fluids much quicker and, if you’re not careful, you can become dehydrated fast.
The key is to have a 3-stage hydration plan for your workouts. Let’s take look at the process.
3-Stage hydration plan for indoor cycling workouts
Step 1: Make sure you start your bike workout fully hydrated
It’s important to be fully topped-up with fluids before a workout and the best way to check whether you’re sufficiently hydrated is to look at the color of your pee. This might sound a little odd, but the more dehydrated you are the darker the color of your urine (there’s less water in the urine to dilute the waste products that your body is getting rid of). On the other hand, if your pee is a very pale straw yellow, then you’re body should have all the fluid it needs.
So, before you hit the bike, hit the bathroom. Which is a good idea anyway, because the last thing you want is to be desperate for the toilet partway through a spin class!
Step 2: Drink steadily and continually when you’re on the bike
As a rule of thumb, you should be taking in around 20-25 ounces of liquid every hour you work out for. The hotter the ambient temperature and the harder you’re pedaling, the closer you need to be to 25 fl oz/hr.
My recommendation is to use a bottle that can fit into the cup holders on your bike and will also keep your drink chilled for the duration of your workout. I’ve been testing out the Stanley IceFlow 22 oz water bottle recently and it’s performing like a dream for my exercise bike sessions. The bottle has a double-wall vacuum insulation, so keeps your drink cold (for up to 16 hrs). It’s made from stainless steel making it light to hold during workouts. A flip straw gives easy drinking and the base is approximately 80mm / 3.2” diameter so it fits easily into most exercise bike drinks holders.
You can also get a budget option like the CamelBak Podium Chill Insulated Bike Water Bottle. This has double-wall insulation, an easy-drinking sports cap, comes in a range of colors, and either a 21 oz 24 oz size.
Pro Tip: One trick that I find helps remind me to keep drinking during a bike workout is to set a repeating alarm or countdown timer on my watch or phone. This beeps every 10 minutes and is a heads-up that I need to remember to take a couple quick sips from my drinks bottle. Without this I’d get to the end of the class before I even thought to take a drink – by that point it’s normally too late!
Step 3: Re-hydrate fully afterwards
It’s important to fully re-hydrate after your indoor bike session has finished. Why? Well, with the best intentions it’s likely that you won’t have taken on sufficient fluids to compensate for the amount you lost during your workout. If you’re anything like me, it’s also likely that you’ll continue to lose water AFTER the workout – through both sweat and also panting. Keep drinking steadily after your workout and again it’s worth taking a trip to the bathroom to check the color of your pee and give yourself a guide as to how much more water you need to drink.