While helping you slim down and improve your heart health, cycling is also quite joint-friendly. It also has a myriad of other health benefits, including reduced stress and depression, strengthened bones, improved posture, improved flexibility, and increased muscle strength.
But as most of us probably know, one doesn’t have to own an actual bike to reap these benefits. An exercise bike, which some like to call a stationary bicycle would be all you need. Even better, you can buy one for your home gym, especially if you can’t manage to visit the gym every now and then. Nonetheless, there are a few things you should know and look for before making the purchase.
A stationary cycling machine should be comfortable and easy to use. It should be able to make your exercise sessions easy and fun. Depending on the space you have, size is also an important factor to consider. This article provides an overview of what to look for when buying an exercise bike along with the benefits of cycling exercises as well as some important things to remember when it comes to the use and maintenance of cycling equipment. Better still, what are some of the exercises worth including in your indoor cycling routine?
Things to Consider When Buying an Exercise Bike
1. Design and Display
Some of the best exercise bikes provide an appealing touchscreen LCD display that offers quite a number of readings. Some of these include heart rate, distance, time, resistance, and revolution per minute. Some awesome bikes are designed to include features that allow you to adjust settings or use presents that suit your weight, height, age, and level of fitness. Popular modern units also come with a resistance control feature and settings near the display.
2. Storage and Safety
How large of an exercise bike do you need? Do you have enough space to store it without leaving your place looking squeezed up? Is the construction and quality safety-assuring? A quality bike should have a substantial warranty backing. Before making your purchase, learn more about exercise bikes.
Put the available space in mind. Consider how much space you have for exercising and storage. Also, folding bikes are more advantageous when it comes to conserving space. They fold into a compact, portable, easy to store unit. For safety, it’s advisable to comprehensively research online from trustworthy reviews and stores to ensure that the bike you’re about to buy has met the quality assurance and safety standards.
3. Bike Type
It’s also advisable to approach your cycling machine purchase with a idea on which type to purchase in mind. Well, there are several types of cycling bikes on the market today. Features and characteristics vary with type. The most common categories include the following.
Common Types of Cycling Exercise Bikes
Indoor Cycling Bike
Indoor bikes have a characteristic open flywheel and are designed to give you the realistic riding experience. The handlebars and the seat are almost at the same level, with pedals on the side. This design gives the user some kind of mountain bike riding experience. They are most commonly seen in gyms that have group training.
Upright Exercise Bike
The upright exercise bike has a characteristic look that features handlebars that are little bit higher than the seat. The riders’ body position tends not to be as low in profile, which makes them more comfortable to individuals not used to long riding sessions. Upright bikes have an advanced display for a superb workout control. It also allows abrupt pedal-stop. In other words, the upright bike doesn’t require you to reduce your peddling gradually when getting off the bike.
Recumbent Exercise Bike
Recumbent bikes stand out from the rest because of their unique features. For instance, the seat has an upright that it looks like a chair. The pedals appear in front rather than underneath. This exercise bike can be the ideal choice for you if you have a lower-back problem or reduced mobility issue.
Recumbent bikes allow you to workout you leg muscles without support from the upper body. This leaves the leg muscles working much harder, which makes recumbent cycling machines the most ideal for building leg strength.
Now that you know what you expect to find in the market, in terms of the various types of stationary bikes.
Benefits of Cycling Exercises
As hinted out in the introductory part, stationary biking comes with a multitude of health benefits in addition to improving body fitness. It’s good for your heart, lungs, weight, muscle, and glands. Let’s look at some of these benefits below.
a) It’s Good For Your Heart – Just like the other muscles, your heart needs regular exercise to remain in good shape and function. Cycling is beneficial in reducing the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases such as stroke. Using an exercise bike for at least thrice a week can be enough exercise to improve your heart health and keep it in good shape.
b) It’s Good For Your Lungs – According to pulmonary health experts and researchers, standard cycling doesn’t increase the lung’s capacity as much as stationary exercise biking does. Engaging in sporting activities increases the volume of air that your lungs can take at maximum inhalation. Thus, you won’t be out of breath as quickly as compared to the person who doesn’t exercise. That’s why you see unfit individuals panting a lot or experiencing breath shortness when climbing the stairs.
c) Strength and Muscle Building – Exercising on the stationary bike not only helpful in strengthening your lower body muscles, it’s also an effective lower-body muscle building exercise. It benefits the muscles of the thighs, legs, and buttocks. It also engages the abdominal and back muscles, which are crucial in maintaining body position and posture.
d) Weight Loss – If you’re aiming to burn calories and shed off some fat, the exercise bike can be a helpful tool in your weight loss program. It can be helpful in removing the belly fat and improving your looks around the lower back, thighs, and buttocks. Nevertheless, any kind of exercise is helpful if you’re fat.
e) Reduced Anxiety, Stress, and Depression – Just like most other sporting activities or exercises, stationary bike workouts can be helpful in regulating stress, anxiety and moods. This is because exercises stimulate the production and release of hormones like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin (happy hormones) while inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol. You may have to do about an hour or more on the exercise bike to get the happy hormone effects.
Additionally, exercise biking is also helpful in promoting joint mobility and increasing flexibility.
To maximize your bike workout results, it is crucial to seek some more information about exercise bikes and perhaps learn some cycling exercise tips. Most importantly, your cycling workout can be more fruitful if you keep the pointers below in mind.
The Best 5 Cycling Exercises For A Better Body
No doubt, the cycling machine is quite a handy piece of equipment in both public and home private gyms. However, what most people don’t know is that it’s not all about pedalling on the stationary bike. To get the best results for a better body, it’s more about training strategy and varying your workout parameters. Plain and simple, your workout variations will determine what you make out of your stationary bike training program.
Now, some people will wonder. How do you vary your workouts? Well, it’s quite simple. Exercise bikes come with a number of features that allow you to make adjustments and put settings that suit your preferences as earlier mentioned. The intensity level, workout duration, wheel resistance level, and training intervals can all be manipulated to suit certain desired results or effects. This is what gives birth to a variety of cycling exercises, some of which are discussed below.
1. HIIT 1
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is one of the most common cardio training workouts you should know how to do. Well, the name kind of says it all. It involves high intensity and low-intensity exercises in intervals. Some people like to refer to it as fractionated training. Within a very short time period, this highly demanding cardio exercise can make unimaginable improvements in your physical abilities.
For stationary bike exercises, there are basically two HIIT workout routines you can try. These are HIIT I and HIIT II.
For HIIT 1, do some warm-up cycling for about 10 minutes. Cycle for 1 minute intensively, followed by 1 minute of low-intensity cycling to allow recovery. Start over again, 1-minute intensive cycling and 1-minute recovery. Do this another 6 times to make it 8 times then do some 10 minutes of recovery cycling. HIIT 1 should take about 16 minutes in total. Remember to keep pedals on the move during any of your recovery periods.
HIIT 1 = 10 minute warm-up; (1 minute – 1 minute HIIT) X 8; 10 minute recovery.
2. HIIT 2 (Tabata)
For HIIT 2, do some warm-up cycling for about 5 minutes. Cycle for 20 seconds intensively, followed by 10 seconds of low-intensity cycling to allow recovery. Do This 8 times at 80 revolutions per minute. When you’re done, do some 5 minutes of recovery cycling to close it up. Remember to keep pedals on the move during any of your recovery periods.
3. Alternating Levels Interval Workout
Another way to do your biking exercises is to alternate cycling intensity levels at intervals. Here the trick is to alternate between easy cycling, moderate, hard, and intense. You don’t cycle at a steady pace and effort. Most importantly, make the best use of the resistance feature on your stationary bike. According to experts, this one is the most reliable indoor biking exercises for fat burning and toning.
At the easy cycling pace, it will feel as if you can cycle all day without tiring up. The moderate level is the place where it starts feeling like you’re doing something. At hard level, you’re actually working and feeling your muscle spending some energy. At the intense or all-out level, you’re cycling at the highest pace against the highest resistance you can handle.
4. Training Zone Workout
Here, it’s all about the heart rate. There are various training zones, each determined by heart rate levels. In these cycling workouts, you train according to the heart rate.
- Burning Fat (low heart rate zone with aerobic training): Okay, let’s say you want to lose body fat for a better, more toned appearance. In this case, you will want to focus more on moves that will burn the maximum amount of fat. This is the low heart rate training zone. In which the body uses up its fat stocks to account for energy expended as you cycle. This is exactly the zone to aim for if you’re looking to improve your appearance. At aerobic conditions, (with your not breath held), the body burns fat to make energy. So at the low training zone, consider increasing your breathing rate to supply more oxygen throughout the body for fat burning. At this zone, about 70-80% of your maximal heart rate is reached.
- Burning Calories (Higher heart rate zone with anaerobic training): In the high training zone, about 80-90 percent of your MHR is reached at anaerobic conditions. The body burns its sugar stocks for energy. It requires a more intense activity and would be best if you’re looking to improve speed, endurance, and performance (as is the case for athletes).
Nevertheless, both these exercises can help you lose weight. Still since losing fat is harder, the best way to go would be to focus more on the low heart rate region when doing your cycling exercises for a better body.
This exercise needs a heart rate monitor to measure and keep track of your MHR. Fortunately, most modern stationary bikes come with an onboard heart rate monitor. A great way to burn both calories and fat is to alternate between the 2 regions. For the 1st minute, cycle at 80 to 90 percent of your MHR followed by 2 minutes recovery cycling at 60-70 percent of your MHR. Repeat this 6 times.
You can check out the fox Haskell formula for more information on heart rate training zones.
5. Off The Bike Exercises
Last but not least, cycling produces even better results when combined with other exercises off the stationary bike. Truth is, areas such as the abdominal region, buttocks, thighs, and the lower back can be quite stubborn when it comes to fat-burning. If you’re looking to burn fat or lose weight, you will need to do more than just indoor biking.
While crunches and sit-ups are crucial when it comes to improving core strength and toning abdominal muscles, they still won’t suffice when it comes to stubborn abdominal fat. These and biking exercises work best when complemented with other exercises. Some examples of good off-bike exercises you can include in your training program include the following:
- Cross training
- Dog circuits
- Zumba boy
- Aerobic muscle workouts
Adding these to your stationary bicycle training program will not only fasten the rate of burning calories and fat, it will also improve your body musculature. After all, it’s a better body you’re really after, ain’t that right?
Regardless of which of the above cycling exercises you choose and how much you vary them, one thing’s for a fact. You’ll barely achieve the desired routine if you don’t stick to the right diet. Like with other exercises, activity is just one part of the puzzle. You need to know the foods to avoid, and the nutrients to seek in plenty. Just for a hint, consider staying away from unhealthy fats, take plenty of omega 3-containing foods, and stick to a healthy meal plan.
Things to Remember During Cycling Workouts
1. Keep Your Bike Setup in Check
To get the best results, your bike set-up should be done with workout comfort in mind. In other words, it should always give you a comfortable working out experience. Configure it in a way that favours your height. Needless to mention, cycling exercises work mainly on the lower body, so including upper body exercise in your training program can be a great idea.
2. Stay Ventilated
The area where you set up your stationary bike is best for exercise when well ventilated. Look at it like this: – When riding a bike outdoors, airflow is continuous, yet you may sweat. When biking indoors, one the other hand, airflow is reduced. This makes it most of the times hot and sweaty. Having a mobile fan or portable air conditioner near your stationary bike can be a wise idea. Alternatively, you can consider setting it up next to an open window.
3. Sanitation and Dealing with Sweat
- If you are working out at home – Consider placing a towel or piece of cloth on your back beneath your shirt to absorb the excess sweat.
- If you are working out on the gym – Consider bringing an extra shirt with you. Allowing sweat to get absorbed by the body could bring some health issues that you don’t want to deal with. It’s more advisable to get changed immediately after workout and a shower.
4. Workout Duration
Always have a definite time schedule for your workout program and avoid working out for long hours. Exposing your muscles to long hours of activity induces the risk of muscle tissue damage, which could lead to excessive muscle strain. Overworked leg and butt muscles can become immobile, so try sticking with a program that does not include long hours of workout. If you experience numbness in your leg and butt muscles, you may want to cut down on the exercise.
5. Getting Your Bike Ready for Workout
Exercise bikes vary from one type to the other. Some common procedures to get it ready for the workout may include the following:
- Adjust your bike saddle to be in line with your hip when standing next to your bike.
- Adjust the handlebars to be above the saddle. It helps to ensure that when using the bike, you will be in an upright position which is more comfortable.
- When you step on the pedal, your leg should be flexed at a 10-degree angle.
- You should be able to push the pedal down without leaning on the side.
When You Get On The Bike:
- Ensure that your feet are directly over the pedal. Lean forward from your hips rather than from your back.
- Always try to avoid bouncing on your seat when pedalling. If you realize you are bouncing, increase the resistance or reduce the speed.
Here are some other spin bike workout tips you could use
6. Maintenance Tips for Exercise Bikes
To get the best out of your indoor cycling equipment, it’s imperative to observe proper care and maintenance. Regardless of bike type, maintenance is more or less similar for most models. Here are some helpful maintenance tips:
- Store your equipment in a dustless moisture-free area.
- To avoid damaging the unit’s computer-like sensors a clean and dry place is essential for dusting and cleaning your equipment.
- Apply grease to all the moving parts to reduce wear and tear.
- Check all the nuts and bolts to ensure none of them is loose, precisely before you start the exercise.
- Regular inspection is paramount. If in your inspection, you find a damaged part, you most probably can’t fix the issue. Call a professional to have it fixed.
If you take good care of your equipment, it will serve you well without disappointments.
Whatever you are aiming to achieve from your workout program, a stationary bike is a no doubt a worthy investment. The cycling benefits are countless, and it is one of the easiest indoor exercise machines to use. If you know how to choose a good one, and you know how to use it while taking good care of it, you will hardly regret having a spin bike at home.
Plus there are many different options to choose from to suit your budget and preferences. Just when you thought that’s all, it hits you that there’s also a wide range of cycling exercises you can do with your indoor bike. What’s stopping you from going ahead and getting yourself one of the top best stationary bikes in the 2018 market?