Another factor to consider when assessing exercise bikes is how you intend to workout and what your goals are. You need to choose an exercise bike to match your workout style and goals. Selecting the wrong type of exercise bike will negatively impact your progress. If you are spending your hard earned cash on one, you want to get it right first time. Worry not, there are so many exercise bikes on the market there will be one that works for you. Just make sure you put plenty of research and thought into your purchase. The aim of this website is to help you here!
It is easy to choose an exercise bike at the top end of the price range, and be confident it will deliver. However just because it costs the most and has all of the latest gadgets, it may not suit you better than others on the market. Consider that there are three major styles of exercise bike, upright, recumbent and studio. Plus there are three main types of resistance, contact braking, magnetic braking and air resistance. Throw into the mix folding and non-folding bikes and you can see there is a lot to choose from. Within each of these types there are ranges of build quality, with higher and lower standards of materials and technology.
This article aims to cover the key criteria to consider when you choose an exercise bike to match your workout style and goals.
Workout and fitness goals
If you are a keen cyclist and want to cycle at home for convenience or through the off season then a studio exercise bike is your best option. They are the closet to replicating the feel of a road bike. The body position is low and forwards. But they will also allow you to get out of the saddle and cycle in an almost standing position when you are sprinting. Studio bikes are great if you want to work on your cycling skills or are looking to train your stamina levels. However they are stripped down and lack some of the extra features found on upright bikes. Things like computer consoles and smart device connectivity are not found on studio bikes.
If your goals are more general fitness and weight loss then upright exercise bikes are more likely to suit your needs. The cycling position is more upright and comfortable for longer workouts. Also upright exercise bikes do more than simply let you pedal away. Many models are equipped with computer consoles which allow you to measure your performance. This provides feedback that you need to ensure you will get the results you desire. Common metrics that they provide feedback on include calories burned, energy expended, distance cycled, duration of workout and speed/pace.
These are especially helpful when you are looking to lose weight. Weight loss is a result of burning more calories than you consume. Tracking the calories you burn over the course of a workout, a week, or even a month help keep you on track. Setting target heart rates can keep you in the “fat burning zone” for longer. Making workouts as efficient as possible. This relies on using a bike with a heart rate monitor, many modern models have this feature.
No pain no gain! It’s a well known saying, and there is truth in it. But how about this one… more discomfort less frequent exercise?! Now it is true that if you push yourself to your limits, breathing heavily and pouring with sweat, then you are probably benefiting from your workout. This sounds uncomfortable I’m sure. But this is not what I am talking about when we talk about comfort. Rather, if you find the riding position uncomfortable, then you are likely going to workout less often. Whereas if you feel comfortable on your bike you are more likely to use it regularly.
Upright exercise bikes tend to be more comfortable than studio exercise bikes. The cycling position is more upright, which is more comfortable for those who are not regular experienced road cyclists. The seats are wider with a greater degree of padding than studio bikes, which have slim line racing style saddles. For those with back problems or lower body joint issues recumbent exercise bikes are the best option. The slung back, more horizontal cycling position is easier on the joints and back. Plus the seat could almost be described as a chair. Making it as comfortable as possible to sit on.
Staying motivated & variety
Should you be a person that gets bored quickly during exercise you should factor this into your decision making when choosing an exercise bike. There are options available that have technology to help alleviate boredom. This technology includes things such as built in MP3 players or connections to smart devices that play music or film. Some exercise bikes have a screen that shows scenery as you pedal. With the progress you make reflected in the speed at which the scenery passes by on the screen. Others have games built in, to take your mind off the pedalling and keep you going for longer.
Exercise bikes with built in workout programs can add variety to your workouts. This has double benefits. Firstly variety of workouts reduce boredom and keep you motivated. Secondly the variety will also challenge your body and your fitness in different ways. This helps to stop you plateauing by doing the same work out over and over. Denying the body the change in stimulus it needs to keep progressing.
This technology is found on upright and recumbent exercise bikes. The stripped back nature of studio bikes means such technology is rarely included on them.
Although you may be working on a budget it does not mean that you will not find an exercise bike that will help you hit your objectives. Many of the items that increase the price of exercise bikes are “nice to haves” rather than essentials. You could do without the built in monitor and work out in front of your TV. Heart rate monitors are great, but do you already own a watch or iPhone that monitors hear rate? I would recommend prioritising build quality over added extras if you are looking to keep costs down.
Also think about the size of your home and how much space you have available to set up and/or store an exercise bike. Recumbent exercise bikes are the hardest to fit into the home as they are the largest and hardest to move and store. Where space is particularly tight you could consider a folding upright exercise bike. If space isn’t that tight a standard upright bike or studio bike will not take up too much room. Plus they should be able to be moved and stored away on built in wheels.
I hope that has given you something to mull over. As with many of the questions I pose throughout the various articles on exercises bikes, there is never a right or wrong answer. Simply an answer that everyone has different needs and goals. Therefore everyone has a bike that best suits them.
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