The exercise bike is one of the most popular pieces of at-home exercise equipment, and when you see all the benefits of having one it isn’t hard to see why! Cycling is a low impact, highly effective form of cardiovascular exercise, and using an exercise bike is enjoyable, yet it can be challenging, and it is far safer than cycling out on the roads.
Having an exercise bike at home means you can work out during your downtime, when you may otherwise be putting your feet up. Pedal away while you are watching television, catching up with a friend on the phone, or just listening to your music, and burn calories while you relax.
Other than an element of balancing, there is no skill required to work out on an exercise bike. Cycling is a sport suitable for all levels. No matter whether you are a complete beginner dreaming about getting in shape, or a professional athlete, cycling can give you a fantastic workout, and because of the variable resistance and different workouts you can do on a bike, it remains challenging.
Cycling is a highly effective aerobic activity, but unlike others such as jogging, it does not put a strain on your joints. There is no impact on your joints as you cycle, just a smooth pedaling motion which increases your heart rate and burns calories, and you can increase the resistance accordingly. This makes it a better choice for people who get sore knees from running.
Not only does it not put a strain on your hip, knee and ankle joints, but it can also reduce strain on your lower back compared to walking or running. This means that you should enjoy your workouts more, meaning you are more likely to continue regularly and get more out of your workout experience.
Effective Cardio Workout
As mentioned earlier, cycling is a great cardio-vascular workout which doesn’t put a strain on any of your joints, but can still help you, for example, to lose belly fat. It is often used in sports rehabilitation as a way of rebuilding stamina and muscle strength without compromising other areas of your body. Cycling is also an effective muscular workout. You use many of the major muscle groups while you are cycling but will work your muscles slightly differently depending on whether you choose an upright or recumbent exercise bike.
On both types of exercise bike, you will target your:
- Tibialis anteriors
- Gluteus maximus
- Dorsi/plantar flexors of the feet
On an upright bike, you are more likely to tone your core muscles such as your abs because you will engage them to keep you balanced in the upright position. This will also work some of your back muscles. On a recumbent bike, you are less likely to work these muscles as your back will be supported, though you can still engage them by sitting upright rather than leaning back into the seat. You will also work them less if you are lean forwards on the armrest on an upright bike, although if you do so, then you will engage your arm muscles as they will support you instead.
Great Workout Equipment For Your Home
An exercise bike will be a great addition to any home, whether you live in a flat or are lucky enough to have space for a home gym. An exercise bike does not take up much space at all, and some are even designed to fold down to less than half their functioning footprint, so you can put them away in a cupboard when they are not in use. If you are concerned about space, it is worth considering an upright over a recumbent exercise bike, as uprights have a smaller footprint. You can read more comparisons with other home gym equipment here.
An exercise bike is quiet to use, and modern ones are extremely quiet compared to older models. Many modern exercise bikes use a magnetic resistance mechanism, meaning you get variable resistance that is very quiet. This not only means you can watch television while you work out, it means it won’t disturb your neighbors or wake your sleeping family.
Track Your Progress
Many modern exercise bikes can connect to other devices via Bluetooth. This means your workout data is transferred and stored so you can track your progress. Some exercise bikes also store data in their computer console for more than one person so that you can compete with your friends and family too.
Vary Your Workout Program
It is important when planning your workout regime that you can vary your exercise sessions.
Variation will keep you challenged and therefore deliver effective workouts and maintain your results. This way, as your workouts are not repetitive, you remain interested and more likely to continue work out regularly and continue your program.
In recent years, there have been some incredible advances in the technology of modern exercise bikes. Many exercise bikes have built-in workout programs into their computers, which will give you a different workout each time. For example, some exercise bikes can simulate cycling in rolling hills so that the resistance will vary automatically throughout your session.
To make your workout even more exciting, if watching the television while you cycle isn’t enough, you can even combine it with virtual reality headsets, using apps such as RideSocial which even connects to some makes of exercise bike such as Schwinns via Bluetooth. This app enables you to use mixed reality, viewing the best cycling routes in the world as you pedal along on your exercise bike, and you can interact with friends or cycle solo. All you need is to download the app and have a headset.
Combine Workouts To Target Different Muscles
As we mentioned above, even using some exercise bikes alone can give you varied workouts. But if you want to target different muscles, you can combine your workouts too.
For example, sit upright with your abdominal muscles engaged and tight, and exercise your arm muscles by using weights while you cycle.
You may prefer plugging in exercise music and then pedaling away, but if you prefer the style of workout classes, you can use your exercise bike for a spinning class from your own home. There are plenty of DVDs you can buy and apps you can download to use at home, so you get the most out of your exercise bike. It also means that you can tackle the workout at a time which suits you, rather than fit your schedule around a gym’s class timetable.
Is It Safe?
In general, cycling is a safe and highly enjoyable sport, but road cycling has its risks. Busy roads and lack of daylight can compromise your positive experience of cycling, and if you are not confident cycling outdoors, you may not enjoy your time cycling.
Cycling indoors on an exercise bike, however, removes all these less enjoyable factors, putting you in an entirely safe environment so you can concentrate purely on your fitness, or lose yourself in another world completely by watching a film while you pedal.
When set up properly, and that doesn’t take much time to do, your exercise bike will be completely stable. It won’t wobble, even when you are standing up on the pedals, cycling at your hardest, so you should feel secure on an exercise bike.
If balance is a concern for you, it is worth considering choosing a recumbent bike. A recumbent bike will be lower for you to get on and off, but it means you don’t have to lift your leg as high. You are also in a more supported position while you are using the bike, and you don’t have to lean forward as you pedal. Most recumbent bikes have handles at the sides of the seat for you to hold on to, and some will have heart rate monitors in the handles.
Something To Suit Everyone
A great benefit of choosing an exercise bike is the choice you have between upright and recumbent styles. You probably already know the difference between the two, but for those of you who don’t, here’s a quick re-cap:
Upright bikes are most like regular cycling bikes, meaning you sit upright or hunched forward on a bike saddle with the pedals directly beneath you. On a recumbent bike, however, you sit in a reclined position in a comfortable chair-like seat, with the pedals out in front of you.
There are benefits to both both types of exercise bike. They are both low impact, highly effective pieces of exercise equipment that work your muscles without putting a strain on your joints. You may find as you progress that an upright exercise bike offers you more challenging and varied workouts, but a recumbent bike is a great choice for people who have issues with lower back pain or poor balance.
Here is a quick roundup of just some of the benefits of each type of exercise bike:
- Often cheaper to buy
- Similar exercise to regular bike
- More workout options
- Works abdominal muscles more
- Works your upper body and arms
- Take up less room
- Great for people with poor balance
- Many have a “stepover” frame
- Comfortable, supportive position
- More comfortable workout = longer sessions
- Easier to cycle handsfree
- Works glute muscles more
As you can see, there are many benefits to having an exercise bike in your home. Workouts are challenging, yet suitable for both complete beginners and professionals, and you can get straight into the strength and stamina building without having to master any skills first.
Exercise bikes are quiet, take up little room in your home and can be used anytime. If you are looking for the perfect fitness equipment to have at home, we thoroughly recommend choosing an exercise bike. Have a look at what the OGLF team thought while testing the best exercise bikes on the market, to help decide which is the best model for you.