Every once in a while, your mind drifts off to your happy place, where you imagine your childhood self, riding a bike. You were excited, you were free, and you were wild when you rode your bike, and you definitely want to time travel back to your happy place. Unfortunately, we can’t go back, but we can go forward. Just because you have little time to get into the great outdoors these days, doesn’t mean you can’t make time for a little biking. Sure, you might feel insecure in the beginning with your pot belly and flabby arms, but trust me, you won’t even have to leave your home! Just get yourself a stationary bike and you can do wonders for your health and fitness, in the comfort and privacy of your own home! This post will introduce you to stationary bikes, and help you decide if they are for you.
Why Use a Stationary Bike?
When I was a kid, my Dad taught me how to ride a tricycle. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, but my Dad then switched it with a bicycle. It was hard for me lift my feet from the ground and control the bike. Initially I had those ‘”fall down and get back up” moments, but I needed to improve my skills and beat my brother somehow. I did something my brother didn’t think of. I practiced for hours on my Mom’s stationary bike. I had to get used to the idea of my feet not touching the ground. When I first rode my bicycle without my Dad’s help, I could see how proud he was.
Yes, you could actually learn how to ride an actual bike if you practice enough on a stationary bike. Additionally, if you’re serious about fitness, stationary bikes are definitely worth a shot. They’re easy to use, and also enjoyable. You’ll often see beginners going to gyms and trying stationary bikes first, because they’re so easy and convenient. They’re also good for individuals with joint pain, back pain, or knee problems. Some people believe that stationary bikes are preferable to treadmills or elliptical machines at home, especially if the weather is bad and you can’t go out to the gym (source: WebMD). At home, you can bike whenever you want, however you want. So, you get to exercise while enjoying watching Netflix, for example.
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Types of Stationary Bikes
There are mainly three kinds of stationary bikes, each with different pros and cons. They cater to different people and different fitness categories. You should consider your own needs and then decide which one would work best for you. Stationary bikes come in upright, recumbent, and spin types.
- Upright stationary bikes: You’ll recognize this pretty easily, because the rider has to adopt a position that’s similar to that of a normal road bike. Thus, if you’re a beginner looking for ways to learn how to ride a bike, you can practice by using this type. Once you get the hang of it, you could go on to buying a road bike and try it out! Click here to learn more on what to consider before you get the bike of your dreams, especially if you’re a beginner.
- Recumbent bikes: There are many people with back problems who have trouble sitting upright. A recumbent position is more comfortable and ergonomic. The spinning motion is done in a laid-back position, which is why this is particularly great for people with back problems, and for many seniors. The exercise is relatively low-impact.
- Spin bikes: Gyms usually have commercial spin bikes, but you could have your very own spin bike too. Spin bikes are a bit different from recumbent and upright stationary bikes, in the sense that the rider has to bend over towards the front and keep spinning the pedals. This is intended to simulate the posture of riding a road bike. Spin bikes have a weighted flywheel directly linked to the pedals, so they are like fixed-gear bikes – that is, if you stop pedaling, the pedals will keep spinning. By contrast, most bikes and other stationary bikes have a freewheel system, so that the wheel can spin while the pedals are not moving. Spin bikes also have comfortable and complex handlebars to enable you to hold on in different ways, depending on your posture (for example, whether you are standing or sitting). Spin bikes are in general much cheaper than the other types, so you get to exercise at an affordable price. You won’t have to deal with intimidating spin classes at the gym if you have your own inexpensive spin bike at home. If this appeals to you, check out this post on the 10 best spin bikes. It should help you to choose a spin bike.
Advantages of Spin Bikes
There are some controversies surrounding the use of spin bikes. Bending over while biking can cause back pain for some. Apart from that, these bikes are rarely suitable for seniors or people with knee replacements. For them, there’s the obvious choice: recumbent bikes. But for others, spin bikes can be a good option. And you should definitely consider a spin bike if you don’t have such issues because:
- Bending over while riding works better on the abdominal muscle groups in your core.
- The bent-forward posture helps the rider get a better upper body workout.
- Spin bikes helps you to get a more intense cardio workout so you can build fitness faster, and also lose weight if that is one of your goals.
- Stationary bikes such as recumbent bikes and upright bikes don’t put as much stress on your leg muscles. Therefore, spin bikes can help you build muscles in your legs faster.
- If your goal is to burn calories, you can burn more by standing on the pedals from time to time. Most spin classes at gyms incorporate a lot of standing.
- Spin bikes are generally more compact and easier to store.
Apart from that, spin bikes accurately simulate the posture and style of riding a mountain or a road bike, allowing you to get more experience so that you can go out in the field. Avid adventurer and cyclist, Fabian Hensher, says that before buying his first road bike, he used to work on his stamina and get a feel for biking by using a spin bike.
Stationary Bike Training Programs
Often spin bikes come with preset modes that can get you going with multiple training programs, but if you have a simple spin bike with moderate features, you can use the methods below to pursue your fitness and health goals. If you’re a beginner, you should start with short and easy workouts.
Try riding at a steady, moderate pace. So, don’t ride too fast or too slow. Simply enjoy music playlists or watch your favorite sitcoms while riding your spin bike steadily for a good 15 to 60 minutes. This is good for beginners as it helps to get the hang of spin bikes. With this simple workout, you would not only burn calories and boost oxygen consumption, your overall cardiovascular endurance would also increase.
If you want to challenge yourself further, you could try hill climb riding. First you should do a short, moderate-paced steady state warmup for 5 to 10 minutes, and then go on to hill climbing. The way to do this is to increase the intensity every 5 minutes. This will make you feel as if you’re going up a hill. As the stress increases, you’ll consume more energy and challenge your cardiovascular system more.
You can also try speed intervals. After you’ve done a moderate-paced warm up, you could try creating variations in the speed of your pedaling. So, for the first 5 minutes pedal at a regular pace, then for the next 2 minutes increase the pace of pedaling. Repeat this process for the next 20 to 40 minutes to finish the workout. Cool down with moderate-paced pedaling for 5 minutes. If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll eventually notice how your fitness level has changed over time. In fact, substantial research has shown that this kind of interval training is the fastest, most efficient way to improve fitness and health, and even fight ageing!
Wrapping it Up
So, if you’re looking for a great biking experience and would prefer to do it indoors, stationary bikes could be a great choice. Stationary bikes are a great way to get a full body cardio workout, possibly lose weight, and definitely increase your fitness and improve your health. And if you are new to cycling, you can use a stationary bike as a “bike simulator” to get some experience before hitting the road. So, just like Bruce Lee demonstrated the art of fighting without fighting, with a stationary bike, you can practice the art of biking without biking.
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