Okay, so you’ve seen our reviews of the best stationary bikes out there. Now, apart from figuring out to work these advanced machines, you’re probably wondering what type of workout to complete on them. Just like any other fitness machine, there are exercises you can complete that enhance your cardio and endurance along different spectrums.
But aren’t they just bikes?
They may look like ordinary stationary bikes, but the ones we reviewed are the best of 2017 for a reason. Their owners raved about them for some reasons, not the least of which was that they all saw a change in themselves. Whether this is fat loss, muscle growth, or better overall times, your goal should be to improve as much about yourself as possible with each workout.
Some bikes, like the Airgometer, are specifically designed with a certain aspect to be exercised—your endurance.
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So you’re all done assembling your brand new stationary bike. All the electronics are working, and nothing is making too loud of noise. It can be intimidating at first because you don’t know how to handle this new machine. You’ve read all the reviews and schematics, but nothing compares to when you first start pedaling.
Though it may cost you more, it is highly recommended (if your bike doesn’t already have it), that you install a compatible measuring system on your bike. It will track calories burned, distance, speed, intervals, and may be even heart rate.
Let’s start from the beginning before you even get on the bike:
Just like with any exercise, stretching most muscles in your lower body will substantially increase workout efficiency in the long run. Those quadriceps will be taking the brunt of most stationary bike workouts, so make sure those feel warm and loose by the time you’re ready to start.
Let’s count out bikes like the Schwinn and Airgometer for a moment and focus on the rest. These bikes, despite their design difference, are the quintessential indoor cycling machines. They are made for you to have an intense workout from the accessibility of your home.
If you’re already familiar with a similar machine at the gym, then it’s safe to safe you can get up to speed quickly on the bike and test your limits. Remember, most bikes have levelers to prevent the bike from rocking during an intense session.
You’ll want to keep your health in mind. You may not be exposed to the elements or running or biking on solid ground, but the bike will tire you out quickly. The trick is not to see how quickly you can become tired, but how long you can last before you get tired.
This is why the interval feature on some bikes (Or a rapid change in resistance), is our favorite.
Unpredictable Interval Training
The interval feature (if your bike has it) will alter the resistance at a predetermined time to simulate the change in elevation on a regular bike. Sometimes the changes will be sporadic. You may encounter different resistance levels, and the bike may hold those levels for an unknown amount of time. You could go high to medium, back to high and then to low, before moving to high and back to low.
- Start riding
- Encounter inconsistent resistance at unpredictable times
- Sometimes you might be able to see the change in elevation approaching, depending on the bike’s systems
These are my favorite workouts because all you’re going to be doing is pedaling. You don’t have to worry about taking your hands off the handlebars because the bike will change the resistance for you. However, if your bike is not the type with an automatic resistance shifter, then you will have to modify the resistance yourself. This is as easy as twisting the knob or control that manages the resistance.
These workouts mimic the ever-shifting environment of the outdoors and expose your body to different elevations. The unpredictability factor may irk riders because they can’t adequately prepare themselves for what is coming. In this case, we can move on to actual interval training.
Standard Interval Training
This is a standard feature on most bikes you see at the gym. Let’s say you set the resistance level at 10 (out of an unknown limit), and then start pedaling. This feature is typically displayed on the bike’s computer screen and shows the upcoming change in resistance.
The bike will most likely start you at an easy resistance before switching to the level 10 resistance after a short delay (usually about 2-3 minutes). You can go for as long as you want or need to, but the key is being able to further, if even for 10 seconds or more, with each workout.
If your bike does not have a sophisticated computer screen, then you will have to adjust the resistance manually. The difference between those that have and those that don’t have advanced electronics isn’t too big. It means that you will have to do some careful note-taking to matter track your progress.
Set your bike at a resistance level that you’re comfortable with and set a time, let’s say for example 20 minutes. Try and complete a mileage you determine for yourself in that 20 minutes. As your body adjusts to the bike, its positions, and you focus more on your goals, you’ll start to see yourself getting closer and closer to that desired mileage.
Some of the bikes you may have seen have their seats facing forward or backward. While it’s highly unlikely that’ll find a bike that can switch between the two positions, even leaning forward on your bike can emphasize different muscles.
Some bikes, like the Airgometer, are specifically designed with a certain aspect to be exercised—your endurance. Once you look at the Airgometer, you’ll see it’s entirely different position than most bikes allows it to work different muscles. It also uses a fan that spins according to how fast you pedal. So you can see why it would be specialized for endurance.
The hardened bikes that use actual flywheels require you to get up to and maintain speed to complete a timed resistance workout. This is also beneficial for endurance training because you want to be able to do more for longer.