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Along with treadmills, exercise bikes are some of the more popular piece of fitness equipment to help get in shape. They are effective, easy on the joints, and work a variety of muscles throughout your body. If you have recently purchased your first stationary bike or are beginning with a gym membership, learning the ins and outs of working with exercise bikes is a good idea. In this article we will teach you how to correctly use a fitness bike to burn calories and build more muscle. Read below to learn some tips for using an exercise bike for the first time.
This is especially true if you are new to exercising or if you haven’t properly worked out in a long time. Muscles will build up lactic acid quickly if they are not accustomed to extensive physical activity. This could cause the soreness after a workout to continue longer than normal. That soreness is a de-motivator and could prevent you from reaching your fitness goals. If you feel like you haven’t stretched enough before your last session and you are starting to experience muscle soreness, try drinking a cup of water with lemon juice. This trick is most effective when done soon after you have finished exercising.
Many tend to not notice or forget that the bike seat is made to be adjustable depending on your height. Adjusting the seat for maximum comfort is important as the right positioning affects the results of your workout. Normally, the exercise bike’s seat can be lifted or pushed down, depending on the model. For recumbent bikes, the seat normally allows for sliding forward or backward to adjust for leg length. If you’re interested, take a look at our review of the Schwinn 270 to get an idea of a good recumbent bike.
The easiest way to understand how to position your seat is to try by pushing one pedal the furthest away from you with your foot: in this position, the leg you’re using should be only slightly bent. Also, remember to keep your back straight and do not lean forward to achieve the best results. Again, this is dependent on the model. If you are exercising with a spin bike, you may find that the proper positioning involves you leaning forward to ensure proper usage.
Stationary bikes will usually provide screens where you can set how long you want to work out, how hard the pedals should be, or sometimes even the number of calories you wish to burn (although it would be an approximate calculation only). Once you have determined your ideal workout and the resistance (if available) has been set to a comfortable but challenging level, you are ready to ride. Your first ride should be about 30 minutes. Don’t overexert yourself at first to ensure you do not experience an inordinate amount of soreness the next day. Once you muscles have become more accustomed to the workout, start to push yourself. You can extend the length of the workout or increase the resistance to ensure you consistently progressing toward your goals.
After a good 5 minutes of slow warmup (yes, you should do this even after you stretched), you can start to pedal a bit faster. There is no specific rule on how fast or hard you should go to make a perfect workout session. But there are many ways that you can do this depending on the results you want to achieve. We suggest that you don’t push yourself too hard and do things at your own pace, especially in the beginning. Let the results tell which techniques works best for you. There may be some trial and error involved.
Another important factor is hydration. Everyone understands the importance of drinking plenty of water throughout the day but drinking during a workout is paramount. Statistics say that it is ideal to start by drinking 17 – 20 ounces of water at least 3 hours before you start your workout. Then, you’re supposed to drink another 8 while you’re warming up and an additional 7 – 10 ounces every 10 – 20 minutes while you are exercising. Another good rule of thumb is that you should also drink another 8 ounces within 30 minutes after your workout.
Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain your motivation and even ten minutes of exercise can feel like hours torture. That’s why gyms provide you with TVs on the wall, music, screens on equipment and sometimes even free earplugs for you to get “distracted” as you exercise.
Letting your mind wander has proven to be a helpful trick to make you feel less tired. Using the screen on your stationary bike you can watch TV channels, music videos or listen to the radio, all while you are working out (don’t count on this as it is rare). For those of you who have bikes that don’t come with video screens, you can just listen to music, audio books and podcasts.
With the use of a smart watch, or a specific tool to wear either on your wrist or on your chest, you can check your heart rate during the workout to make sure you’re going at the right pace. Ideally, you lose more weight if your heart rate varies within a range of 70% – 80% of your maximum heart rate. Fitness experts believe that if your heart rate exceeds this threshold, you are building more muscle than normal. The maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from number 220. So, for example, if you are 30 years old, your max heart rate would be 190; meaning that you would lose weight faster if your heart rate goes from 133 (70% of 190) to 152 (80% of 190).
Take an additional 5 minutes to slow down and pedal at a lower intensity as you near the end of your workout. During this time, you should take deep breaths and wait until your heart beat goes back to normal. It is very important that you also stretch the muscles that you primarily used during your routine for another 5 minutes. Toe touches, trunk rotation and leg swinging should be fine for your end-of-workout stretch routine. This method is beneficial to your body overall as it helps your heart rate decrease gradually while helping your body slowly unwind after your workout, making you feel less tired.
Riding an exercise bike is an excellent way to get in shape quickly and efficiently. They are great for all manner of lifestyles as they are available in almost every gym and are small and affordable if you want one for your home. Additionally, once you get the hang of consistently riding your bike, you may find that you look forward to your daily workout to wind down after a hard day. If this is your first time to ride an exercise bike, just follow the above tips to help get started. Once you have become more experienced, try to tailor your workout to best suit your goals and keep it fun.
You can find all of our exercise bike comparisons here, if you are interested in learning more.