How to Use an Exercise Bike – Train Seriously or Just Get in Shape

Once you learn how to use an exercise bike, you’ll find it has many advantages over other cardio exercises. It is a great way to get an aerobic workout by pedaling to your heart’s content – and never leaving your stationary spot!

What Type of Bike to Use

There are three main types of exercise bikes. The first two, the upright and recumbent (or reclining seat bike) have been around for a while and are the primary stationary bikes.

A recumbent bike is ideal for people who can’t use the upright bike; it is low to the ground, and has a comfortable bucket seat with a backrest. In addition, the pedals are out in front of you rather than under the seat.

The third style is a specialized upright, the Spinner bike, which is designed to simulate racing.

Where to Begin

While you may wonder how to use an exercise bike, it is easy if you follow a few simple steps. The important thing to remember is that you want to follow these steps so that you will pedal using good form and posture. This way, you won’t stress your knees or back.

How to Use an Exercise Bike - a short instructional video from
LIVESTRONG Fitness

  1. Adjust the seat. Bike seats are adjustable for height to move them closer or further from the pedals. When you stand next to the bike, the saddle height on an upright is usually level with your hips. When you sit in the seat or saddle on an upright with your leg extended and foot in the pedal at the bottom of a pedal revolution, your knee should be slightly over your ankle. If you have too much bend in your knee so that it goes well forward of your toes, adjust the seat up and/or back for a more comfortable riding stance.
  2. Adjust the handlebar. Raise or lower the front handlebar for a comfortable reach. If you have to lean forward too far to reach the handlebar or console, this can potentially put stress on your back. You also want to maintain posture and not “lean” on the handlebars when riding.
  3. Adjust the foot straps. Most exercise bikes have straps on the pedals for your feet. Don’t ignore them or remove them; they will help you push and pull the pedals for a more efficient pedaling stroke. You can wear a regular pair of gym shoes when you exercise, just be sure the straps are snug but not tight.

The Console and Display

Some exercise bikes have electronic consoles so you can monitor your workout feedback in terms of time, calories burned, and RPMs or revolutions per minute. Many bikes have pre-set programs based on time duration, distance traveled, a targeted heart rate for cardio training, cadence (the speed at which the pedals turn), and so on. Some models now have video monitors that let you watch TV programs or virtually tour countryside, mountain roads, and cityscapes while you control the pace.

Another point to remember when learning how to use an exercise bike is that you want to dial up the tension which is used to simulate the resistance experienced when riding on the open road. For best results, set enough resistance so that you are slightly out of breath. This is the reach of the cardiovascular workout: to make your heart pump faster and breathing more rapid.

After all, the reason for riding a stationary bike is to get your heart rate up, so get a bike with an HR monitor if you can. To use it, you simply grab the sensors on the handlebars and hold on until the display can take a reading of your pulse – about 15 to 30 seconds. Check the bike’s manual for the recommended target heart rate zones for your age level.

A Good Choice for Low Impact Cardio

Exercise bikes are a great investment for anyone who wants to train seriously or just get in shape.

The best reason for learning how to use an exercise bike properly is that you will maintain a healthy weight through regular aerobic exercise, as well as build muscle tone in a low-impact workout that is both fun and convenient.

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