How to Use an Exercise Bike
Exercise bikes are inexpensive, compact, and relatively easy to use. Unlike a regular bike, you can ride an exercise bike regardless of the weather, and you will never have to worry about getting run over by a texting teenager. However, before you buy your first stationary bike, it’s important to do some research so that you know how to use an exercise bike correctly.
Exercise bikes may not be the most complex exercise machines, but it’s still important to use them correctly. As with any fitness equipment, using one recklessly or incorrectly can lead to ineffective workouts, unnecessary pain, or even an injury. Fortunately, you’re unlikely to suffer a serious injury like a broken bone, but joint and tendon injuries can happen if you’re not careful. Choosing the correct exercise bike, adjusting it to your height, and practicing proper technique can help you get the most out of your exercise bike.
Choosing an Exercise Bike
The first step in learning how to use an exercise bike correctly is researching the best bike for your situation. There are two main types of exercise bikes: upright bikes and recumbent bikes. Upright bikes are laid out like a regular bicycle without wheels; instead of turning wheels, the pedals turn a flywheel. Recumbent bikes are arranged with the pedals in front of your body rather than beneath your body. When using a recumbent bike, you sit in a regular sitting position.
Neither type is superior to the other, but each offers unique benefits. Recumbent bikes are usually gentler on your joints, and they’re more forgiving of suboptimal settings. These bikes often have a larger seat, so they also tend to be more comfortable for extended sitting. Upright bikes offer a more consistent workout, and using an upright bike gives you a more full-body workout. If space is limited, you may need to stick with an upright bike; they’re typically lighter and more compact.
Adjusting the Seat
Finding your bike seat’s proper position will help you minimize your risk of injuring yourself and obtain the best results from your workout. To begin, sit on the bike as usual. Place your heels on the pedals and rotate them to their fullest extension. If you’re using an upright bike, stop when the pedal is at its lowest point; on a recumbent bike, stop when one pedal is as far from you as it can be. If your seat is adjusted correctly, your leg should be completely straight. Adjust your seat’s height (for an upright bike) or horizontal position (for a recumbent bike) until you have the correct setting.
Proper Pedaling Technique
Using the proper posture and pedaling technique is a key step to learning how to use an exercise bike. The balls of your feet should rest on the pedals; if your bike has foot straps, using them will give you a more efficient stroke and engage more muscles with each cycle. When you pedal, push through the balls of your feet and transfer the force all the way back to your heels; don’t pedal with your toes. Keep your back and shoulders straight. If you’re using the handlebars, your arms should be extended straight outwards to grasp the bars. Don’t hunch or arch your back; you’re more likely to give yourself post-workout pain by pedaling with a back that isn’t straight.
Warm Up Before Burning
No matter how fit you are, it’s always a good idea to warm up before you start an intense workout. Spend the first few minutes of your ride easing into your workout. This lets your muscles get used to the movements before you subject them to strain, allowing you to work more efficiently with less pain.
Use Resistance for an Extra Challenge
Almost all exercise bikes allow you to add extra resistance to the pedal’s motion to simulate hill climbs and give your muscles a more intense workout. Your bike’s computer may come equipped with pre-designed programs to give you a guided workout. Depending on your goals, you may wish to use a program designed to help you burn the maximum number of calories, build your speed, or increase your endurance.
Heart Rate Monitors Guide Your Workout
Although the thought of riding an exercise bike might not set your heart aflutter, actually riding your bike should definitely get your heart pumping. Most exercise bikes include heart rate monitors in the handlebars to help you pace yourself appropriately. Grasping the handlebars lightly allows your bike to measure your heart rate. Raise and lower the resistance on your bike throughout your workout to keep your heart pumping at its optimal speed. Consult with your doctor if you don’t know what heart rate you should maintain during your workout, and aim to keep your heart in this range for at least ten minutes.
Come Down Easy
Just as it’s a good idea to warm up before you start riding, it’s also a smart idea to gradually taper off the intensity of your workout. After finishing your intensive ride, ease up on the pace and let your heart rate and legs slow down. Spending at least five minutes cooling down can reduce muscle pain after your workout.
Now that you know how to use an exercise bike, check out Fitness Gallery’s selection. We handpick each piece of fitness equipment sold in our stores, so you know that you’re getting high-quality products at a great value. Plus, we have top-of-the-line used equipment for those wondering how to choose a treadmill on a budget. To learn more, please visit our online store, or stop by our showrooms in Denver (CO) or Highlands Ranch (CO). Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect equipment for your fitness goals.