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.

Achieve the perfect fit on your exercise bike

If you’re a cyclist, no matter your experience level, you may have experienced that tingling or a numbness in your glutes mid-workout. Or perhaps you’ve fallen victim to hyperextension because of improper pedal positioning. Instantly, your motivation deflates and you cut your bike workout short by 10 minutes. Thankfully, these are avoidable situations. Read on to learn how to position your exercise bike seat properly for a comfortable and injury-free ride.

A good rule of thumb for a recumbent exercise bike is to place the arch of one of your feet onto the center of the pedal. Then, release the seat lock latch, push with your foot until your leg is nearly straight, and set the latch. If you are pedaling correctly, with the ball of your foot on the pedal, this should place a slight bend in your knee so that you don’t over extend and cause injury.

On the upright bike, the easiest way to position the seat height is to stand next to the bike. Unlock the seat post and raise the seat unit the top of the seat is at the middle of your hip. Then replace the seat post lock, sit on the seat and check to make sure your leg has the slight bend when the center of your foot is on the pedal. If the seat is too high or low, dismount the machine and raise the seat post up or down one notch and try the fit again. You may also be able to adjust the seat forward or backward to optimize the angle of your hips or to perfect the handlebar reach.

On various indoor cycles, like the Vision Fitness V-Series, you can also adjust the bike handlebars vertically for maximum comfort. Start by raising the handlebars so they are slightly above the seat height. This allows for proper posture and alignment for even weight distribution while you’re biking. Make sure you can comfortably reach the handlebars without locking your elbows. You want to have a slight arch in your back, so make sure there’s no strain in your neck and shoulders.

If your indoor cycle has fore/aft handlebar adjustment, you can use that to maximize your riding position as well. After you have positioned your seat fore/aft (if the bike has this type of adjustment), release the handlebar fore/aft adjustment lock and place your elbow on the nose of the seat. Then, extend your arm straight pushing the handlebar with the tip your middle finger until your arm is straight and fully extended.

Once you’ve made initial adjustments, ride for a few minutes and fine tune for the perfect fit. If you’re new to cycling or have taken some time off, don’t get frustrated if you can’t bike 10 miles the first day back in the saddle. Start with a mile or two at a time to get your rear familiarized with the bike feel, especially on an indoor cycle saddle, which is much narrower than a recumbent or upright exercise bike seat. Looking for more tips on how to ride? FitSugar.com also has a great video on how to fit an indoor cycle.

What’s the most difficult part for you to fit on your exercise bike?