The differences between exercise bikes and regular bikes are minimal but significant. With a regular bike, pedaling will provide power to the wheels, and this will cause the bike to move forward. Exercise bikes, on the other hand, have the seat, pedals, and handlebars attached to a solid base. When the rider pedals, the bike does not move, allowing a stationary workout.
Due to the lack of movement, the seat is generally wider than a traditional seat and offers the option to stand upright or remain seated depending on the body part being worked. Those in an upright position have more power on the legs, and this can be great for those suffering back problems.
An exercise bike will often also include a digital meter to monitor speed, calories burned and heart rate and these are very useful for creating and formulating a workout plan - ideal if you do not want a personal trainer and are designing your own plan.
The idea of hitting the gym and honing your body is nothing new - as long as people have had mirrors, they have been interested in making themselves look as good as possible. The concept of exercise bikes is also not unusual - the first such creation was patented in 1796 by Francis Lowndes, and unveiled as the ‘Gymnasticon.’
As well as a good workout, there is a range of other uses for exercise bikes which can be used to their full advantage.
Whether you are recovering from illness or injury, an exercise bike can be a great way to get yourself back on track and build up strength and fitness. By their very nature, they are limited as to the exercises and movements which can be performed, and this means you do not have to worry about injuring yourself while working out. It is not possible to push too far or perform a move incorrectly - you are automatically restricted by the equipment. In addition, your exercise bike allows you to train in a controlled environment where you are totally in control, as opposed to outside. Here, external influences can have a negative impact on your recovery, and there is little you can do to control them.
The customizable nature of exercise bikes also makes them great for rehabilitation, as they can be altered and adjusted according to your needs. This means you can alter the seat height and handlebars, and change a number of elements to create a comfortable experience which best benefits your recovery. Recumbent bikes, in particular, are great for this and can be customized in a variety of ways to best suit your needs.
Stationary bikes are also great for weight loss as they make the most of cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is essential for losing visceral fat in the belly, transforming it into strong, lean muscle. A combination of steady-state and interval riding will burn calories and burn fat for sustainable weight loss.
It is best to start with a routine of cycling three times a day for five minutes at a time, to build up to 30 minutes of moderate intensity five or six times a week. The exercise should raise your heart rate to between 50% and 70% of your maximum, and you should be able to talk, but not sing — the workout switches to being intense if you need to take a breath every few words. Calculating your maximum heart rate is easy. All you have to do is take your age and subtract it from 220.
While you are still new, you can break up your workout into 10-minute intervals at a time - this allows you to burn calories and reduce belly fat while still maintaining a manageable workout. A stationary exercise bike gives you the freedom to play about with your workout intensity and length, and you can gradually build up the pace as you get more experienced.
Increasing the resistance and level as you train is a great way to challenge yourself and lose weight gradually; this should raise your heart rate to about 75% to 85% of your maximum if you go for 20-30 minutes, and will build up a good sweat which burns fat.
Interval training allows you to train at high intensity in short bursts, and this is a more efficient way to burn fat and calories quickly. Experts suggest that between two and three of your weekly workouts should be HIIT for maximum impact.
These start with a warm up for 5-10 minutes at a low resistance, and this is designed to wake up your joints, raising the heart rate and get the blood flowing around your body. Once warmed up, you can start your intervals by pedaling at one or two minutes at a higher resistance. Put in as much effort as you can until you feel your heartbeat rise and you start to feel breathless, before returning to an easier pace of pedaling for a minute or two. Give your heart rate a chance to recover your breath a chance to return to normal before increasing the intensity once more. Alternate these intervals of high and low intensity for around 10-15 times before cooling down. This should be a three to five-minute workout of gentle, easy pedaling to prevent your muscles from cramping.
Once you are used to interval training, you will be able to adjust and play with the lengths you are working for to best suit your goals and desired outcome. A stationary exercise bike gives you the freedom to adjust and customize your workout as much as you need and allows you to find the best solution for your workout.
Another great use of exercise bikes is the role they can play in helping you to train and prepare for competitions. If you are cycling professionally, your performance will be measured largely by power and speed. Power is expressed in watts and measured using power meters, which are applied to exercise bikes. These meters can help to determine the best techniques for workouts, and an exercise bike allows you to experiment with different routines and workouts to find the best fit to push your limits and cycle at your best level.
Whether you are a seasoned gym bunny or a newbie to the world of workouts, an exercise bike allows you to gain the same health benefits you would receive from an elliptical trainer, a treadmill or from running or walking outside. The advantage of a stationary bike over these options is that it helps to put less pressure on the joints, and so can be a perfect way to ease into cardio and build up your fitness in a gentler way.
An exercise bike is a low impact option, and so is perfect for those who suffer from knee or hip problems. The motion of cycling also helps the knee joint, keeping it naturally lubricated for smoother motion, as well as building strengths in the quads and muscles around the knees to support the joint more thoroughly. The seated position can also be adjusted as you need, and so can be ideal for those suffering from chronic back pain, allowing them an exercise option which is safe and sustainable. Recumbent bikes, in particular, are great for supporting your back while you work out, and so should be picked over an upright option if this area is an issue for you.
As well as working as a standalone exercise option, cycling can also be used as part of a more comprehensive workout routine; the act works the lower body muscles, focusing on the quads at the front of the thigh. This means it is a great counter-exercise to walking or running, which work the hamstrings at the back. Most exercise bikes will also allow you to adjust factors such as the resistance, and you can custom-build your workout plan by increasing or decreasing this for more challenge or ease and to help stop you from getting bored by switching up your regime as and when you feel like it.
The best (or worst, depending on how you look at it!) part of an exercise bike is that you can no longer use bad weather as an excuse, not to workout - you can enjoy a session while safely indoors, and even in the comfort of your own home if you are so equipped!
Before you jump on the biking bandwagon, it is essential to note that there are various kinds of exercise bikes, and the one you pick will depend entirely on your preferences and needs. None is better or worse than another, but each offers different workout options and benefits.
The significant advantage of recumbent bikes is the reclining design. Rather than a traditional bicycle seat, this is more like a chair which allows the rider to sit back in comfort, and have the pedals in front of the feet rather than beside or below. Handlebars are also adjusted, and located at the side, rather than to the front as with other models. These designs are the perfect choice for those who need a little more support when working out and help to reduce any excess stress on your joints, making them ideal for riders who have knee or back problems, or who are riding to recover from injury and for rehabilitation. These bike types offer the lowest intensity workouts, and engage the fewest muscle groups, but are perfect for those who need to take things more slowly. They can even be easily fitted with extras such as TVs and monitors!
One of the most recognizable types of exercise bikes, the design of an upright bike is the closest to a traditional and classic bicycle. The seat supports the weight of the rider, and the pedals are aligned to fall just under the user's feet. The core is important for keeping the rider's body upright and also works the arms using special moving handlebars, creating a full upper body workout. The pedals also mean you can enjoy a lower body workout, focusing particularly on the quads. The workout can be intense, and users tend to have a sore back and rear due to the upright design and constant need to engage the muscles. These bikes have a simple, minimal design and are easy to transport from place to place.
As the name suggests, a folding exercise bike is one which can be easily folded down and packed away when not in use. They come in a variety of different sizes and probabilities, and many offer a variety of different speeds and resistance to allow you to tailor your workout according to your training requirements or preferences. Folding bikes are not only easy to transport, but they also tend to be quieter than their static counterparts, and so are suitable for use in any location. For an easy way to access your fitness options on the go, a folding bike can be a great investment, and they are also perfect for those living in homes where space may be an issue.
Indoor cycles are very similar to upright bikes but include a few key differences which set them apart. They allow riders to stand up during the cycle, and this engages and works more muscle groups in the workout. The handlebars are usually located further from the seat, changing the posture of the user for a more intense workout. These burn the most calories out of all the bikes we have discussed, and are built primarily for efficiency. As a result, they lack any special monitors or equipment, and so can be run easily without electricity, They are the popular choice for spin classes, and are frequently found in gyms or fitness classes.
To change up the intensity of your workout, most exercise bikes will use a resistance. There is a range of different models available:
These are most common in older bikes and include a belt attached to the flywheel and the pedaling wheel. Tension is increased by adjusting the tension knob, and this increases the force at which the brake system holds the belt from moving. It is similar to mechanical resistance, as we have seen earlier, but here it is the brake system itself, which causes the resistance. These types tend to be very prone to wear and tear and require regular maintenance and replacements.
This has become a popular choice in more recent bikes. Magnetism uses a series of steps to help generate resistance which uses the flywheel as a magnetic conductor. As the user cycles on the bike, the flywheel will continue to rotate, interfering with the magnetic field which is created by placing two magnets. The attraction which is created by the flywheel then brings about a resistance force. The more force you apply, the more resistance you will experience, and this can also be adjusted through the knob or buttons.
This type of resistance tends to be quieter and smoother than other types of resistance, allowing you to unwind by listening to music or enjoying a magazine while you workout and reduce the disturbance to others who may live in the vicinity. This is a top reason for choosing magnetism as a form of resistance.
The flexibility in your workout is another popular choice. The higher the speed of the bike, the greater the resistance thanks to the increased interference with the magnetic field by the flywheel. There also tends to be less maintenance required with this type of resistance, as no parts come into contact, and there is no wear and tear. They do, however, tend to be more expensive options.
Air and fan-based resistance is another option when it comes to generating resistance. Instead of a flywheel, a resistance fan is used to connect to the pedals of the bike using a sturdy belt and pulley system. As soon as you start cycling, the fan will begin to turn at a slow speed, and this increases as you start to pedal faster. To get a higher level of resistance, you will need to up your speed, and this offers a great challenge as you become more experienced.
The air and fan resistance options are popular due to their quiet, smooth operation, which means they can be used in any location. The fan also generates a breeze as you pedal, which helps to keep you cool and comfortable as you work out - this is definitely a bonus if you are planning to push yourself to the limit!
Exercise bikes can offer a range of benefits, including:
The cardio provided by an exercise bike is ideal for burning fat and calories and is an efficient way to lose weight. A 30-minute ride can burn around 300 calories! The action also works the glutes, quads, and calves for tones legs, and can have benefits for the upper body if you work the handlebar!
As well as weight loss, exercise bikes can help build strength in the back, leg, thigh, and hamstrings. The push and pull motions work for multiple muscle groups and are a great way to develop all-over strength.
Unlike jogging or running, cycling is low-impact and can protect your joints from damage. This means an exercise bike is a crucial tool for those looking to build up strength and fitness in a safe, low-impact way.
Exercise bikes are super convenient, and allow you to work out anytime, anywhere. Never again will you have the excuse of poor weather or bad transport!
The benefits of cardio are endless - it regulates blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, boosts weight loss, and can even help reduce the risk of a heart attack. Cycling is a key form of cardio, and helps to increase good cholesterol levels on top of the other positives! An exercise bike can also help to strengthen your heart and lungs and increase the ability of your body to use oxygen more effectively.
While it is convenient to have an indoor bike, it can mean that you are missing out on valuable fresh air and getting out and about in the great outdoors. Vitamin D is essential for good health, so make sure you are balancing your indoor workouts with walks and outdoor exposure.
A stationary bike, by its very nature, does not move, and this can lead to a dull and monotonous workout. Try adding TV’s or reading a book to keep you interested.
The low-impact nature of an exercise bike can easily protect your joints, but you can miss out on building valuable bone density and strength. It is important to build up this mass to keep you strong and able to work out effectively.
It is important to keep your bike in good condition for both safety and comfort. Make sure it is regularly cleaned and wiped down with a suitable disinfectant - this should be done after every workout to reduce sweat and prevent mold from accumulating.
You should also take this chance to check over the parts of the bike and ensure everything is in good working order. Get any repairs seen to as soon as possible by a professional, and never ride the bike if anything is broken or working incorrectly - this could be very dangerous.
An exercise bike offers a variety of benefits for increasing your health, fitness, and overall well being. With such a wide variety of options available, you are sure to find something which suits your training style and requirements.Whether you need a training buddy for a big competition or are a newbie looking to up your fitness levels, an exercise bike offers you a whole host of benefits to boost your journey into a whole new you.