So you want to get fit!? How would you feel if you could do this from the comfort of your own home and even watch your favourite TV show whilst you are at it? That sounds great, doesn’t it! This is one of the reasons that more people are opting to buy exercise equipment and set up their own home gyms, rather than pay a monthly premium for gym memberships they rarely use. There are many items that you would find in a gym that you can purchase for your own home, with the exercise bike being one of the most popular. Cycling is a fabulous exercise with many great benefits and the beauty of it is that practically anyone can do it.
Types of Exercise Bikes
Who knew there were so many different types of exercise bikes? Ultimately though, they are all bikes… handlebars, 2 pedals, a saddle etc. Your specific needs and goals will dictate which bike will suit you best. For example, someone who is a really keen cyclist and competes might go for a sophisticated training bike, whereas someone who would like to undertake some home exercise and merely get fitter would probably choose a standard upright exercise bike.
Here is a rundown of the main types of bikes on the market;
An upright bike mostly resembles a classic bicycle. As you are in an upright position, with the pedals positioned under your body, you will work your abdominal muscles as well as your legs. An upright exercise bike gives a consistent workout using the same muscles as you would if on a bicycle outdoors.
These exercise bikes offer a reclined position meaning that the abdominal muscles are hardly used. They usually have a large seat with backrest rather than a standard saddle and pedals are situated in front of the body. Recumbent bikes are good for those with back issues or a weak core and also for people new to cycling. It will provide a cardio workout for any ability level.
These bikes are a combination of upright and recumbent bikes. A good idea if you are making the purchase for all the family to use. With these bikes, you are able to vary your exercise position, tailor workouts to use a broader range of muscles and ensure you are being mindful of your back and posture.
More commonly known as a ‘spin’ bike, these types of exercise bikes feature a heavy flywheel linked to the pedals. With these bikes, your legs are constantly moving and to slow down, you need to apply pressure. Spin classes are especially popular due to their high octane soundtracks and flashing lights, making them a high energy workout burning up to 600 calories or more in a single session. These bikes are probably more suited to classes rather than to a home gym.
Air bikes a slightly different from most other exercise bikes. These bikes have movable handles that work in conjunction with your pedalling legs also giving you an upper body workout. As the air bike works with wind resistance, the harder you pedal, the harder the workout.
Often used by athletes, the watt bike is able to accurately measure your power output, pedalling technique, and your heart rate. Working with dual wind and magnet resistance, these bikes give a thorough workout to the cyclist and usually feature at the top end of the market cost wise.
We hope this gives you a clearer idea of the exercise bikes on offer and it has helped with your decision. There are still many options to consider and these mainly depend on a number of variables such as your budget and what special features you would like your bike to include. Even the most basic bikes nowadays have small onboard computers so you are able to tell the time you have cycled, the distance ‘travelled’ and the number of calories you have burned during your workout. Some models might go further where you can compete against the computer, cycle a famous route or set a challenge to be completed over a week/month/year for example. All of this may seem unnecessary to you at the moment but once you get more into it, this might appeal. In which case we would encourage you to find a bike that suits your budget but with as many of the extra features as you can.
Only Got 5 Minutes?
Cycling is up there as one of the best exercises you can do, giving you a thorough body workout and allowing you to constantly challenge yourself. With cycling, you will quickly see results in both your fitness and your appearance.
Exercise bikes are popular as they place less stress on the joints than some of the other cardio equipment such as treadmills, stairclimbers or rowers. Classed as a low impact exercise and easy on the joints, you will still benefit from a full body workout through cycling.
There are many reasons why people choose not to or are not able to work out at a gym or cycle outdoors;
Confidence/anxiety issues Demanding job Family/other commitments Financial
Not able to drive Not on a bus route No nearby gym
Therefore, having an exercise bike at home makes perfect sense! You can choose when you would like to workout and for how long, plus there is no time wasted travelling to and from the gym and no risk of injury from traffic if you were cycling on the roads.
Once you have decided what kind of bike you would like to buy, you can then start to look at the features they include to make sure the bike you eventually purchase will suit your needs.
As mentioned above, even basic bikes now have onboard computers allowing you to track your workouts but some are so technically advanced, you can even choose to cycle famous routes or scenic paths, race against the computer or challenge friends and family, all as well as obtaining your workout stats such as calories burned and average speed. Many bikes also link up to fitness apps, via Bluetooth which is a really useful tool. If this appeals to you for recording your workouts and progress, make sure you look for a model that gives you this option.
New to the market are interactive exercise bikes, these allow you to ‘tune in’ to live workouts as if you were in an actual spin class. You have a real class leader
cheering you on to push harder and work to your maximum capacity. Whilst these are a fabulous option, they come at a premium and then a monthly subscription to sign up for the classes.
You may simply wish to set your bike up in front of a TV and cycle for the duration of your favourite programme or pop your earphones in, find a great playlist, audiobook or podcast, and pedal away. This will ensure that your workouts do not become boring, it has in fact been proven that listening to music can improve the quality of your workout by increasing stamina. Motivational music will help you to achieve great results as well as having a positive psychological effect on you.
A top tip, once you take delivery of your exercise bike, is to take measurements of your body, record your weight and then also your stats from your first cycling session. The is no better motivation than to see results and how far you have come and pretty soon others will start to notice too. It may be that you are not using your exercise bike for weight loss but for rehabilitation from an injury or operation for example. As the bike takes the ground out of the equation, there is no risk of placing stress on your hips, knees, ankles or back as the pedalling action on home exercise bikes is very smooth.
Saddle Sore? If you are not used to riding a bike, the saddle on an upright bike might take some getting used to. Once you start exercising regularly, you will soon get used to the saddle but, if it’s really not working for you, you can always look to purchase a saddle with a greater surface area/more padding. There is also specific clothing designed for cyclists, with shorts/leggings featuring a padded ‘seat’. Recumbent bikes offer a large, bucket type seat which is far more comfortable if you really cannot cope with the saddle on an upright bike. Remember though, you will not get the upper body workout on a recumbent bike the same as you would on an upright.
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What are the Health Benefits of Cycling?
Strengthen and Tone
Working out on a stationary bike is great for toning your legs, buttocks, arms, abdominal muscles and also your back. Upright cycles especially are great for the core muscle but recumbent bike not so much due to the cycling position. Working at a higher resistance will obviously help with toning, lower resistance should be used for your warm up and cool down and the beginning and end of your exercise session.
Burning calories is effective for weight loss and if you were to work out on your upright bike for 1 hour at a super high intensity, you could look to burn around 700 calories. Of course, starting out, the figures may be very different but you can look to increase the length of your cycle and the intensity over time. To achieve good results, it is essential to combine a healthy diet alongside regular training.
Cycling is a fantastic exercise for improving your cardiovascular fitness. It is an excellent way to strengthen your heart muscle and your respiratory system. You will find over time that you are able to cycle for longer and with more resistance, proof that you are becoming fitter.
As we touched on previously, cycling is a great exercise for your joints as it is low impact. This ensures the ankles, knees, hips and back are protected from weight bearing throughout your workout. Especially helpful for rehabilitation from injury/surgery etc.
The Feel Good Factor
When we exercise, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that react with the receptors of your brain and reduces your perception of pain and also your stress levels. This process also triggers positive feelings in the body, the ‘feel good factor’.
Here in the UK, there has been a huge resurgence in cycling over the last few years. This is mainly due to Tour de France and the UK success in this cycling competition. Since Bradley Wiggins’ success in 2012, the UK has won every year with the exception of 2014 – pretty impressive don’t you think?
In 2015, The Tour de Yorkshire was started. This has become a huge highlight in the sporting calendar and thousands of spectators line the streets each year to cheer on the many competitors. As a direct result, there has been a massive boom in cycling clubs around the country with it being reported that there are now as many as 2,200 registered clubs.
So, what are you waiting for? Get on your bike and who knows, you could be competing in the next Tour.
Accessories are not essential but do have their benefits. An attachment to collect clippings makes for easier disposability. Ground sheets can also make disposal much quicker. Face and ear protection is beneficial to avoid injury.
The power of a corded electric trimmer is measured in watts. The watts usually vary from 400w to 900w. The higher the wattage the more powerful the machine. In a cordless model, the battery power is measured in volts and can vary between 18v and 36v. Like with the watts, the higher the voltage, the more powerful the hedge trimmer.