The Benefits of Using Stationary Bikes

Although new exercise routines and regimens seem to appear on a daily basis, and treadmills and ellipticals continue to be the most popular cardio pieces in the gym, don’t overlook the original piece of stationary exercise equipment, the bike. The benefits of using an exercise bike are numerous and diversified. It is a great workout for beginning exercisers, elite athletes, those returning from injuries, or someone doesn’t have the space or budget for a high-end treadmill or elliptical.

Other than training your cardiovascular system and burning calories, the single most significant benefit to using a stationary bike is that it allows you to do those things without the pounding and impact of weight bearing exercises. An exercise bike allows you to train while giving your skeletal system and joints a break. So physiologically, you can see how it is useful to every type of exerciser.

Although there are dual action bikes (with upper body arms) available, most bikes in use today are lower body upright and recumbent bikes. Don’t fall into the trap believing that because you are not using your upper body, you are not getting a good workout. The largest muscles in the body are in your legs and when you put them in motion against resistance, you will get a great workout.

Stationary bikes are a great way for first time exercisers, overweight users looking to lose weight and those needing a low-impact workout to begin an exercise program. They are fixed motion pieces that require very little coordination and are relatively easy to use. You can elevate your heart rate and burn calories and fat without the stress of a weight bearing exercise.

For elite athletes, the bike provides a great complementary cross training workout, while reducing the risk of developing overuse injuries. You can get off your feet and give your joints a break from impact activities, yet you can continue to train your cardiovascular system. Each activity you do works your muscles differently. The bike can also add variety to you workout routines.

Finally, if you are recovering from an injury or joint replacement, the bike can be an integral part of your recovery and help get you back on your feet doing what you love to do.

Finally, cost and space. These are two of the biggest factors or hurdles people encounter when trying to decide on a piece of fitness equipment for the home. If you can’t commit to at least $1,500 for a quality treadmill or a $1,000 for a quality elliptical, a stationary bike may be the better option for you. There are many quality choices for under a $1,000. Or, if you are tight on space, the bikes take up less room and are portable. Just wheel it out in front of the TV and you are on your way to a healthier future.

Summary of Benefits

  • Trains cardiovascular system
  • Burns calories
  • Low impact
  • Easy to use
  • Low risk of injury
  • Helps develop leg strength
  • Excellent form of cross training
  • Can add variety to weight bearing exercise routines
  • Bikes take up less space
  • Are typically more affordable
  • Are portable

So if you’re in the market for a new piece of cardio equipment, consider an exercise bike for a great low impact workout that you can easily fit in your home.

Treadmill Drive Motors and the Question of Horsepower

The treadmill motor horsepower rating is probably the single most recognizable spec that jumps out at a consumer when he or she begins to do their buying research. It is most likely because we have all heard this term since we were young, and many of us think we know what it means. As tends to be our way of thinking, we usually believe bigger is better. However, the truth is, the ratings and numbers can be very confusing and ultimately incredibly misleading. Here are some tips to help you sort through some of the terms and numbers you may have read about to find out what is really important when trying to understand this integral part of the treadmill.vision treadmill motor

Poor horsepower ratings

Unless the treadmill has a strong motor, you will easily wear it out. First, check to see what rating terminology the manufacturer is using. Terms like “treadmill duty” and “peak duty” have been used to mislead consumers in the past to raise the rating number (remember the assumption that bigger is better). What do each of those mean?

  • Treadmill Duty – somewhere in between peak and continuous. Treadmill duty measures the likely horsepower for an average user at an average speed over an average period of time. But because it is an average, it is not a true representation of power.
  • Peak Duty – Maximum horsepower a motor can generate when working at its hardest. This is only sustainable for a short time. Or Peak duty motors measure power at the highest possible rpm with minimal load. But since an efficient motor is not going to run at this high rpm all the time, it is not an accurate horsepower measurement.

Look for Continuous Duty horsepower

When shopping for a treadmill, look for a Continuous Duty Rating (CHP). A continuous duty motor measures the minimum horsepower delivered at all points during a workout, and is a commercial grade standard applied to treadmills used in health clubs and higher-quality home treadmills. Continuous duty motors are the highest quality available. They are more powerful, they last longer, and they deliver smooth performance.

Minimum recommendations have always been at least 1.5 CHP, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a treadmill with such a low rating these days because of all the marketing hype. However, if done right, a 1.5 CHP motor with an RPM rating below 4000 would satisfy the needs of 90 percent of home users.

The importance of RPMs

Rotations per Minute (RPMs) is really important in motor design. The relationship between continuous horsepower and RPM is torque. This is the most significant factor when determining the best suitable motor for you needs. The lower the RPM of a motor, the more torque it will have – torque being the measure of a tendency to cause rotation; in other words, the power to turn. This allows the motor to last longer. I strongly recommend a motor with an RPM rating of 4000 or lower, but never more than 5000.

This is crucial because this is where a lot of manufacturers begin to play with, and boost, the ratings above 2.5 in to the 3.5 and 4 HP range. In a lot of those cases, if we examine the plate stamped on the treadmill, you will find RPM ratings in the 7000 to 8000 range. This is how they can get away with these bloated HP rating numbers. These motors are spinning way too fast and working way too hard to last the years you should expect out of a quality treadmill. RPM tinkering is only one way in which a manufacturer can boost the horsepower rating of a treadmill motor.

Electrical requirements

Finally, there are the electrical requirements needed to support a larger HP motor. Most homes today have either a 15- or 20-Amp circuit, which you plug the treadmill into.  Most 20-Amp lines will only support 2.4 horsepower from an electrical motor for a continuous period of time. So all the “extra” horsepower, if the rating is true, is nice but totally not needed and never really used.

On a related note, it is nice to have a big, strong, powerful motor in your treadmill, but it is just as important to surround that motor with up to date quality components (more on that later). If done properly, the motor won’t have to do all the work so the load can be shared amongst all the integral parts. They reduce the need for overblown horsepower ratings and produce a much more efficient running treadmill – A sort of brains over brawn scenario.

What this all means is that the customer should be more concerned with how well all these parts of the treadmill work together, rather than with a hyped up horsepower rating placed on a website or printed in a brochure. Look for a solid motor with CHP rating and low RPM’s and go from there.

Use Goal Programs to Spice Up Your Workouts

Want to add a little variety to a stale workout routine? Maybe you need a little extra motivation?  Try a Goal Program! Having a fitness goal can increase accountability and make workouts more fun. By using a goal program, you’ll finish your workout and reach those fitness aspirations more quickly. Thankfully, there are four different Goal Programs available on the Vision Elegant and Touch consoles for you to try.

5K and 10K Goal programs are distance-based workouts with 10 available levels of intensity.

  • The elevation/resistance adjusts automatically throughout the workout. The height of each hill is based on the level of intensity you choose. Speed is controlled by      you, the user.
  • The Touch console offers you a Stage Meter, which helps you monitor your progress through the different elevation/resistance changes in the program. This can mentally prepare you for the elevation changes ahead. The Stage Meter has a percentage completed number that changes as you progress through the stage as well as a meter visual. vision touch console stage meterWhen the meter is almost full and your percentage completed hits 95 percent you know it won’t be long before your hill is over. The Elegant console offers a more traditional profile view which will fill in as you move through the program.
  • Did you choose a level that was too hard? Don’t worry, the level of intensity can be adjusted during the workout to make sure you don’t have to stop and restart. Press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.
  • Another motivating feature of the 5K and 10K programs is the Time Remaining feedback window. This window will constantly readjust based on how fast you      are moving. Want to finish in 30 minutes? The Time Remaining window will tell you exactly how long each workout will take you. Vision touch console time remaining window

Calorie Goal is a program that allows you to select a desired number of calories you would like to burn.

  • Set your calorie goal and the console will estimate your total time based on the starting speed, elevation and user weight prior to the workout.
  • During the workout, the Time Remaining feedback window will constantly readjust based on your intensity level. Want to burn those 300 calories in 20 minutes? The Time Remaining window shows you if you are on track. Going faster or increasing your intensity level allows you to reduce the remaining time of the workout.
  • Feeling good and not ready to stop? You can readjust your calorie goal right on the fly. No need to start over. Simply press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.Vision touch console change calorie goal

Distance Goal is a program allows you to set your goal based on distance and not time.

  • The Time Remaining feedback window constantly adjusts based on your speed. That way you don’t need to wonder how long those 5 miles are going to take you.
  • Feeling strong today or maybe you bit off a little more than you can handle? You can add or subtract distance mid workout.

Try one or all of these Goal Programs available on Vision Fitness Elegant and Touch consoles and take your workouts to a whole new level.

Travel to Different Destinations without Leaving Home

Keep your workouts fresh and exciting. Exercising with Passport Media Player can transform your static workout­ routine into a dynamic adventure, filled with intensity, excitement and education. While en route, scrolling text appears on-screen to inform the user about locations along the way.

Compatible with all Vision Fitness Classic, Touch and Elegant consoles, Passport Media Player with Virtual Active (available for purchase as an accessory) allows users to travel to exotic locations from all over the world.  Below are two of my favorite locations destinations, though that may change as more destinations will become available in the future.

Chicago destination on Virtual Active

While traveling through Chicago, you’ll notice thousands of tulips along Michigan Avenue, also known as ‘The Magnificent Mile.’ These tulips typically bloom in late April, just north of the Chicago River. The historic Water Tower is the largest shopping district in Chicago, with an impressive 3.1 million square feet of retail space. More than 22 million people visit this area annually, where dozens of the world’s leading luxury retailers have a strong presence.

Along your journey you’ll pass through Millennium Park, which is known for its beautiful and interesting public art installations. The infamous ‘Cloud Gate’ (referred to by Chicago residents as ‘The Bean’) is a three-story, 110-ton sculpture that distorts objects with its curved mirror/reflective surface.

From there, you’ll travel along the Chicago River through the heart of downtown. There are 38 movable bridges that span across this river. In a feat of engineering, the flow of the river was reversed for sanitation purposes in the early 1900s. The river is famously dyed green each year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In1992, the river broke into an underground freight tunnel network, flooding the lover levels of many buildings.

Italy

The journey to Northern Italy takes you though areas where early adventurers in the Bronze Age were attracted to due to the prevalence of copper ore. Marble, semiprecious stones and oil shales have also been found in this region. Travel along the historic road to Timmelsjoch, which was built in 1959 to accommodate tourists while seamlessly blending into the landscape. Back in 2007, this infamous city had an average of 50,000 tourists a day. On the border of Austria in Italy’s Otztal Alps, Timmelsjoch is often referred to as the ‘secret passage’ because it is used less heavily than other mountain passes in the area.

The transition from Timmelsjoch to Venice is quite noticeable as Venice has no roads and is only navigable on foot or by boat. Known for its canals, gondolas, and beautiful architecture, Venice is also recognized for its film festival. Founded in 1934, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. Another site worth noting along your voyage is Piazza San Marco, or ‘The drawing room of Europe.’ This is one of the few great urban spaces left in the area that’s not polluted by the sound of motorized traffic.

Try either of these destinations on your Vision Fitness treadmill, elliptical or exercise for an entirely different, interactive workout experience.

Treadmills – To lubricate or not to lubricate?

To ensure maximum life of your treadmill, proper maintenance is a must do! Please refer to your owner’s manual for any questions regarding maintenance. Depending on your model, you may sometimes have to lubricate the running deck with paraffin wax. The reason for applying wax to the running deck is so the running belt moves smoothly over the deck surface. The wax reduces the friction between the two, thus creating a longer life span for your running belt and deck.

Please note that if you have had your running belt and deck replaced in 2012 and after, it is possible you have a maintenance-free running belt and deck. If you are unsure, please call tech support at 800-335-4348 and we can assist you in figuring that out. If you have a maintenance-free running deck and belt, do not put any wax, or any type of lubricant on your treadmill. They are made so the running belt is infused with wax, and will run smoothly onto the deck, requiring no maintenance from you!

If your treadmill running deck does require wax, it is a fairly straight forward procedure. We recommend the use of a SLic-STik, which is a wand with wax on the end, and it makes it a fairly easy process.

  1. Start off by turning off and unplugging the treadmill.
  2. Loosen the rear roller bolts with an Allen wrench to allow the belt to be lifted up from the sides of the deck.
  3. Clean and clear the deck of foreign debris. Inspect the deck for signs of wear. If large deep scratches are present or the black coating has worn to wood color, the deck should be flipped to a good side or replaced.
  4. If surface is OK, lift the side of the belt and insert SLic-STik under the belt to wax the surface. Generously apply the SLic-STik to the deck from front to back using a back and forth movement concentrating on the center surface area of the deck.
  5. Remove the SLic-STik from under the belt and adjust the belt back to its proper tension. Plug the treadmill in and it is ready to use.

A Vision Fitness treadmill deck should be lightly waxed every 500 miles to insure maximum life of the treadmill components, but it is better to wax more often than to wait too long. However it is important to note that over-waxing can have a negative effect, such as belt thumping or excess wear of components.

To assure maximum life of the components without over-waxing, the following schedule may be followed:

lubrication frequency

Following these guidelines can help keep your treadmill in great working condition. If you want to purchase a wax stick, you can by calling tech support at 800-335-4348.

Running Deck Cushioning – What Sets Vision Fitness Apart

Spring is finally here! You’re not about to start over with your fitness at square one like last year. You’ve set yourself up for success by training all winter long on your Vision Fitness treadmill. Today is the day you are going to go outside and test your winter training. Fast forward one hour later – you may not have done as well as you thought. And your legs ache? You’ve run more miles on than this on the treadmill, so what is wrong?

First of all, do not be discouraged. The smooth cushioned surface of the running deck on a Vision treadmill is actually easier on your joints than running on outside terrain. Although we strive for optimal comfort, we understand you may not be doing all of your running indoors, so with our treadmills, we try and keep realistic design and functionality in mind.

Our deck itself is a firm piece of wood, offering you support, while our deck cushioning where the deck attaches to the frame gives you a softer cushioning that transitions with you with each stride. The deck cushioning on our treadmills is designed to absorb the impact of your foot planting at the front of the deck, and increases in firmness as your stride carries through to push off into the next stride. If you think of how running shoes are designed, it is a similar concept, simulated to give you a comfortable, natural feel.

Some other companies use a flexible deck, which is like a springboard. Running on a trampoline does not compare to running outside, so why do it? Keep it realistic with our Vision Fitness treadmills and our variable cushioning. An active and healthy lifestyle is something you will never regret! Let us help you set yourself up for success and year round fitness with our comfortably realistic treadmills.

Turning Energy Saver™ Mode On and Off

Our Classic, Elegant and Touch consoles include an environmentally friendly feature called Energy Saver™ mode. When the feature is activated, the console will go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity to save power. A small green LED will light on the display alerting you that the machine is in Energy Saver™ mode.

For technical reasons, the Energy Saver mode is set to OFF as a default when the machine leaves the factory. Here’s how to change the Energy Saver setting from OFF to ON.

Treadmill Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the Energy Saver mode (ESM), press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the INCLINE UP button, and the display will change between ON and OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Treadmill Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings.
  5. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  6. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Treadmill Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button on the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Bike/Elliptical Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. For Energy Saver mode (ESM) press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  4. Press the ENTER button.
  5. Now press the RESISTANCE UP button, the display will change between ON and OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  7. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Bike/Elliptical Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings
  4. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  5. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom-left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  7. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Bike/Elliptical Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  4. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top-right side of the screen.
  5. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Create Your Own Custom Intervals Program

Interval training has been a hot topic in fitness this year. Combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer durations of active rest can improve cardiovascular health, increase your energy levels and provide fat-burning results long after your workout ends, among other benefits.

Although the Touch console features the medically proven Sprint 8® workout for interval training, it can be beneficial for you to create your own personalized interval program that features sprints and active rests programmed at your pace and duration. Plus, you can come back to the custom program time and time again for excellent health and fitness benefits.

Log in under your user ID and select Vision Fitness Touch Consolea manual program. After starting the manual program, use the on- screen speed slider at the right and go to your preferred “slow” speed. Once the treadmill has reached your “slow” speed setting and you are ready for a faster interval, use the speed slider to go to your “fast” speed setting. Now that you have a “slow” and “fast” speed bubble showing on the slider, all you have to do is touch either one to toggle back and forth. As easy as that, you can now perform intervals for up to 120 minutes (or 2 hours).

You can repeat these steps using the incline slider on the left of the screen to select “high” and “low” incline settings. Now you can quickly and easily toggle back and forth between your “fast” and “slow” and your “high” and “low” settings for your own custom interval-training course, which will be saved in your workout calendar. Any time you would like to repeat this interval course, you can simply log in, go to your workout calendar and repeat the workout from today.

Some of the Best Elliptical Features: Incline and Foldable Frame

There are numerous choices when it comes to Elliptical trainers. But which choice is best for you? There are a number of things to consider when purchasing an elliptical for your home: How does the elliptical feel, what price point are you most comfortable with, which features you require, where will you put the elliptical and how much space do you have to work with. Two extremely popular choices are folding ellipticals and Suspension Elliptical™ trainers. Both choices offer space saving qualities, help you maintain proper form and provide the user with a great feel.

Folding Elliptical

Vision Fitness was the first company to develop and deliver a folding elliptical and recently, we’ve created the next generation of folding ellipticals for those who are ‘tight’ on space. The Vision Fitness XF40 features a highly durable, welded-steel frame design with patented folding pedal arms that allow compact storage. It is easy to fold and offers a hydraulic assist that effortlessly lowers the pedal arms (similar to how a folding treadmill ‘drops’) when it’s time for your workout. When it’s folded, there are four wheels for easy maneuvering from within a room or moving the elliptical to another room.

XF40 folding elliptical trainer

 

The space-saving features are great but I know some are asking, “How does it feel?” Quite simply, the feel is great. The XF40 folding elliptical offers everything that a traditional ellipticals offers and more. Superior motion, zero foot pedal spacing, premium oversized footpads and multiple handgrip options all provide a comfortable fit for multiple users. Of course, not everyone requires a folding elliptical. Perhaps you are looking for something that offers a little more variety but are still conscious of space? Keep reading!

 

Suspension Elliptical™ with incline feature

Most Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical trainers offer a unique ‘incline’ feature that have become very popular over the years.

Quite simply, the incline of the trainer changes the angles of your legs while working out. Benefits of having incline are numerous:

  • Proven to burn more calories
  • Activates & targets more of your leg muscles, which is great for toning
  • Increases intensity, making your workouts more challenging
  • Decrease the effects of ‘muscle memory’
  • Provides the ability to increase length of stride when the incline is increased
  • Ability to change your routine and reduce workout ‘boredom’
  • Provides a customized feel for multiple users (i.e. Families)

Some incline ellipticals require the user to manually adjust the incline. Typically, this can be tedious and frustrating for a user. Ellipticals that have automatic/electronic elevation are generally better since they offer more range and don’t require the user to pause their workout to make the desired adjustment(s).

Another really useful feature of the incline elliptical is the ability to target specific muscle groups quickly and efficiently. When you pedal forward on an elliptical and change the incline, you incorporate different sets of muscles. When you pedal backwards and change the incline, you target the same muscle groups but different parts of the muscle. Going backwards and forwards, while using the incline, is a great way to change up your routine, utilize all of your leg muscles and minimize the dreaded ‘workout boredom’ that most people encounter at some point.Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical Trainer

The Vision Fitness S7100, S7200 and S70 all offer the incline feature as well as the other benefits of a suspension trainer. Although the suspension trainers do not fold, they do take up considerably less space and offer the following advantages over most traditional ellipticals:

  • No track/wheels
  • Superior stability
  • Incline
  • Small footprint
  • 2-inch pedal spacing, which keeps the hips aligned properly
  • Vision’s ‘Perfect Stride’

Whether you choose a suspension trainer that offers incline or a space saving folding elliptical, the bottom line is to choose what feels best to the person(s) who will be using it. Remember, the best piece of fitness equipment is the piece that you will use and enjoy.

Train with the Intervals Program on Your Exercise Bike for a Change of Pace

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise BikeThe Intervals program on a Vision Fitness® upright or recumbent bike can be a valuable tool in your fitness regimen. Bikes are a great way to get your cardio training in, while giving your skeletal system a break from the stress of a weight-bearing exercise like treadmill running. One of the keys to exercising on a bike is maintaining a sufficient level of intensity so you are maximizing your time spent exercising. Unlike a treadmill that forces a user to keep up, on a bike, the user must push himself/herself to keep the level of intensity up where he/she is truly benefiting from the workout. This is where a program like Intervals can really help.

What is interval training?
Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the level of intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. The goal for interval training is to push the body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level with the objective of improving your performance.

The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrates. A general parameter to measure where this threshold is would be 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. According to the web site www.medicinenet.com, train below 85 percent and it’s aerobic; train above 85 percent and it’s anaerobic. (For more info on monitoring your heart rate, click here.)

Using the preset Intervals program

After selecting the Intervals program on your console, you will be prompted to enter in your age, your desired time and your weight. Once you have done this, the console will then ask you to enter in the difficulty level. This may require a trial and error period as you figure out which level will best challenge you. The resistance level will automatically change from segment to segment, alternating between a higher level of resistance (the active phase) and a lower level of resistance (the rest phase). These changes in resistance are designed to push you past your aerobic zone and into your anaerobic zone during the active phase, as described in the paragraph above. The duration of each segment is determined by the total time you entered in the beginning.

The benefits of interval training are numerous, and it is becoming the preferred method of training for many of today’s elite athletes. Benefits such as burning more fat, decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, strengthening your immune system, and lowering cholesterol, are all attributed to interval training according to Dr. Joseph Mercola (www.mercola.com). Also, it can ultimately put less stress on your joints because you are exercising for shorter periods of time.

The beauty of this program, especially on a bike, is that anyone can start it and begin to reap the benefits immediately. Interval training can closely simulate participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and lacrosse. All are activities that include quick bursts of energy intermingled with periods of active rest.

Interval training has long been a favorite of coaches because it can be an effective means of improving an athlete’s cardiovascular capacity, thus helping their performance on the field. It can also help an individual burst through those dreaded “plateaus” we have all encountered at one time or another after performing the same exercise routines for an extended period of time.

For me personally, the active phase helps push me to workout harder, while reducing my perception of how long I have been working out, a big-time bonus in my opinion. So if you are looking for some variety and want to spice things up, I suggest you get off your feet, get on a bike and challenge yourself with an intense Intervals program.