Usually somewhere between the treadmills and elliptical machines, there are a few exercise bikes sprinkled in. Some might look very much like the 2-wheeled apparatus we learned to ride when we were just children. Others are bigger, bulkier, with lots of bells and whistles — but just as familiar. Then come the seemingly laid-back bikes where people seem to like to read for long stretches of time.
Why are there so many different kinds?
WHAT THEY ARE
- An upright exercise bike is what you normally run into out on the floor. You can enter your weight, level of difficulty, different pre-programmed exercise programs, and other factors just like you’d punch them into a treadmill. The seat, which you can adjust higher or lower, is usually wide and cushioned for a comfortable ride. Whereas spinning bikes employ a heavy, weighted flywheel, exercise bikes have a freewheel.
- A recumbent bike allows exercisers to sit back, alleviating stress on the lower back and shoulders. Many people choose this ergonomic design when looking to avoid aches and pains or while taking part in some type of physical therapy plan. The seat is located almost in-line with the pedals, the rider’s arms can stay in line with the torso, eliminating strain on the wrists and arms. And the list of comfort measures goes on.
- A spinning bike is stripped down to a more manual mode for exercise. You typically find these bikes in a specific room used for spinning classes, however many gyms will let you use them when classes aren’t in session. The seat is skinny and much like you’d find on a regular bicycle, so it’s helpful to wear padded riding shorts for comfort, but overall the bike offers a lot of customization in way of fit and fine-tuning. Any exercise you perform on a spinning bike must be self-driven by cranking the resistance knob, as well as squatting or standing to hit different muscle groups and simulate hills and other terrain.
HOW TO RIDE + CONSIDERATIONS
There isn’t much to figuring out how to ride a bike if you’ve done it once or twice. But a few things to consider is fit, motion, and resistance.
- Don’t shy from moving different parts of the bike around to fit your body. It might be helpful to take a spin class, for example, and have the instructor help you figure out the right way to move all those parts for your specific body. In general, there are some guidelines that can help you get the gist.
- As far as motion is concerned, I’ve always been told to think of moving your knees UP with each pedal, versus pushing your feet DOWN hard.
- Be sure to wam up and cool down. Think cadence (basically the number of times you pedal per minute) versus high resistance to start. It’s better to get those legs moving quickly and consistently than it is to challenge with too much brawn from the beginning. Use the resistance to simulate hills or increase intensity in intervals.
- Of everything, I recommend taking a spinning class for the best quality workout. The instructors are trained to get that high intensity interval training moving in your favor. Be sure to bring a towel, lots of water, and a positive attitude. If you’ve never done a class before, you might be surprised how walking/running fitness doesn’t always translate over to another sport.
- Stationary Bike Workout for Beginners via About.com
- 30-Minute Bike Interval Workout via FitSugar
- 45-Minute Indoor Cycling Workout via Fitness Magazine
- Recumbent Bike Workout Plan via Jillian Michaels
- Stationary Bike Workouts to Increase Speed via SparkPeople
Written by Ashley Marcin.