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Exercise Bikes - Buying Guide

1. What is an exercise bike?
2. Is an exercise bike better than an elliptical trainer or treadmill?
3. What are the advantages of bikes over running?
4. What muscles does an exercise bike work?
5. How do I use an exercise bike?
6. What are the differences in exercise bikes?
7. What should I look for in buying an exercise bike?


What is an exercise bike?
Exercise or stationary bike is exercise equipment that allows you to bicycle indoors, while staying in one place. Exercise bikes come in manual and electric versions. Manual versions are mostly used in spinning classes, while electric versions have detailed exercise display information. The speed and resistance of an exercise bike can be adjusted to increase or decrease difficulty of the exercise, allowing you to burn more calories

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Is an exercise bike better than an elliptical trainer or treadmill?
Elliptical machines, treadmills and bikes, all will give you the benefit ofcardio vascular exercise which raises your heart rate and allows you to burn calories ensuring weight loss. With that said, there are some fundamental differences between these three due to which different people prefer different machine types.

Elliptical machines provide a total body workout as they come with handles and arms to enhance upper body workout as well. On the other hand, treadmills are used specifically for running and walking. Bikes are generally compact, cheaper and allow you to be in seated position while exercising, which many find to be more comfortable allowing for a longer exercise session. The type of machine you prefer to exercise with is a personal choice.

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What are the advantages of bikes over running?
Advantages to exercising with bikes are:

Lower Impact
Running and walking outdoors are high impact exercises, meaning they place strain on your ankles, knees, hips and back. Bikes offer a lower impact option to running or walking outdoors and is perfect rehabilitation for people with leg and foot injuries.

Available 24/7
Because they are indoor machines, bikes can be used year round, and at any time of day or night. Many people prefer this option for exercise in winter months.

Comfortable Seating Position
You are seated while using an exercise bike, either upright or with your back supported; many people find this a more comfortable position to be in while exercising.

Workout Monitoring
Bikes allow you to monitor heart rate, calories burned and the distance you run or walk.

Progress Tracking
If you are a dedicated runner, treadmills allow you to chart your distance, speed and heart rate while exercising.

Controlled Workout
Electric exercise bikes allow you to choose from a number of different routines from flat surfaces to hills. Bikes are also a good option for people who are recovering from injury as they allow you to control the pace and resistance level of your exercise.

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What muscles does an exercise bike work?
Biking work mostly the muscles of your lower body:
  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip Flexors
  • Glutes.
In addition there is the cardio vascular component, which works your heart and lungs.

Cycling on an exercise bike (or outside) requires correct posture. This also strengthens and conditions strong mid section and core muscles:
  • Abs
  • Oblique
  • Core (stabilizing) muscles.
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How do I use an exercise bike?
Read The Basic Instructions
First read the instructions that come with your bike before using it. This allows you to become familiar with the settings, programs and display information of your bike, particularly how to increase or decrease speed and how to adjust the length of your exercise and the difficulty of your ride.

How To Adjust The Seat Correctly
Adjust the seat so that your knees are almost fully extended (but not all the way) and place your feet in the pedals and start pedaling.

Select The Exercise Routine
Electric exercise bikes allow you to choose from a number of different routines from flat surfaces to hills. You can either choose a quick start setting or a pre-programmed mode.
If you use a program you will be asked to enter your weight, age and length of time and difficulty level that you want to ride. The computer will calculate your target heart rate and increase the speed and resistance until that level is reached,
If you choose to use a “quick start” setting then just enter the length of time you want to exercise for and continue pedaling. You can still adjust the speed and difficulty of your ride in this mode.

Adjust The Resistance
If you are using a manual or spinning bike, adjust the resistance to your desired level and continue riding.

The Correct Posture
Keep your head up and your back straight and your abdominal muscles drawn in or contracted as you exercise.

Breaking A Session
If you need to take a break, or stop quickly just stop pedaling with any exercise bike. Most electric bikes will remember where you left off and start at the point when you begin pedaling again.

How To Stop The Session
With an electric bike, when you have completed your exercise, a program will give you an automatic cool down cycle, generally a 5-minute ride at a slower pace while your workout information is summarized.
With a manual or stationary bike slow the speed of the your pedaling down till you have stopped.


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What are the differences in exercise bikes?
There are two different kinds of bikes, upright or recumbent. An upright bike can be either electric or manual (like a spinning bike).
  • On an upright bike you sit upright as you do with on a road or mountain bicycle.Standard exercise bikes can be either electric or manual.
  • With a recumbent you sit down, as in a chair, with your back supported and the pedals in front of you. Some people with lower back pain and the elderly prefer this type of bike to an upright one. Both will give you the same quality of exercise.
  • The higher end bikes offer more programs and the ability to monitor your heart rate with both wired and wireless monitors. This is a good option if you are exercising at target heart rates.
  • With a upright bike you can stand while pedaling. This is an option for riding hills for more advanced riders.
  • If you are concerned about exercising at peak heart rate levels, consider a bike with a built in heart rate sensor or one which can be used with an external sensor.
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What should I look for in buying an exercise bike?
Exercise bikes are an investment and are designed for many years of wear and tear. If your workout routine is mostly biking, than in the long run owning a bike will save you money on gym memberships and time by exercising at home.
  • Consider your budget and look for a bike that is solid and well built from a respected manufacturer of exercise equipment.
  • What kind of cyclist are you? If you ride outside in the warmer months are you looking for an indoors alternative or do you want an exercise bike for all your cardio workouts?
  • If you are an outdoors cyclist, consider a spinning bike, it is a stationary version of a road bike and is more like what you are used to riding. If you prefer to ride indoors an electric bike is a better option for you.
  • For many people, noise is an issue. Make sure you are comfortable with the noise level of the bike you choose. The noise level of manual bikes is quieter than electric bikes.
  • Look for a bike that uses magnetic resistance, this allow for better braking and control of your speed.
  • What are the maintenance requirements of your bike? If possible choose a machine where you can perform routine maintenance yourself.
  • What kind of exerciser are you? Do you just exercise for a period of time or do you like to use pre-programmed exercises? Mid range and higher end bikes offer more options and programming features to choose from than entry-level models.
  • What kind of information do you want to know about your workout?
    If you like statistics make sure that all the stats are easily readable during your workout
  • Will you be doing zone or target heart rate training? If so you consider a bike that has built in heart rate sensors or one that works with an external heart rate monitor or a tethered or wireless telemetry chest strap.
  • Where will you put your bike? An exercise bike can be as long as 63” and as wide as 24”.
  • It is a good idea to have a fan to help keep you cool during your workout.
  • If you are using it correctly you will sweat so consider a washable exercise mat for under the machine to protect your carpet and floors.
  • Choose a bike that you are comfortable with using or it may end up as a coat rack. The key to a successful fitness routine is the routine part, so choose a machine that you’ll enjoy exercising with.
  • If you choose an upright bike, invest in some good padded bike shorts and shirts. Proper materials make a great difference in your comfort level when you sweat during exercise. Don’t worry about looking silly, no one will see you exercising at home.
  • Finally make sure you are comfortable using it. Can you adjust the seat to your height? Do you like the feel of the pedals? Are the controls easy to operate?
Important Tip: Call 1-866-570-0470 for our free fitness consultant to get personalized recommendations on which bike is right for your needs. The key to a successful fitness routine is the routine part, so choose a machine that you’ll enjoy exercising with.

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