Working out on a stationary bike appeals to many people because it is easy, fun and can be tailored to suit individual fitness levels and goals.
These workouts are low-impact and safe, so they represent a good way to start a fitness journey for the first time, or after illness or injury.
It is most important that you have the right position of the bicycle before you workout.
Many things depend on your riding position, including your comfort, safety, pedaling efficiency and the effectiveness of your workout.
Get your bike position correct:
- Adjust the saddle – the bike seat needs to be in level for support and comfort, not tilted forward, which will put strain on your knees, hands and arms.
- Adjust the height of the saddle so that your knees are straight in the down position and your heels are lower than your toes. Adjust the forward/backward position for comfort.
- Adjust the handlebars – to avoid back, neck and shoulder strain adjust the handlebars so you can comfortably hold them with bent elbows. Raise the handlebars to reduce strain on your back and neck.
- Adjust the pedal straps – using the pedal straps allows you to rotate the pedals in a full circle to give you a smooth ride.
- Adjust the controls – before you start the workout, set the intensity, resistance and speed to suit your fitness level or the fitness goal you have for the session.
Resistance on a stationary bike is the equivalent of hills on the road, and you can decide how big the hill is. Some bikes have pre-set programs that you can choose that will automatically take you through a varied workout session.
Ride without injury:
- Always warm up before a stationary bike workout. The main reason to practice warm up exercise is that it starts to get blood flowing to the muscles, which reduces post-exercise muscle soreness. A good warm up means less chance of injury. A warm up prepares you for a more intense activity both physically and psychologically. Do stretches for your legs, back, arms and core muscles; jog on the spot, do twenty jumping jacks or run up and down a flight of stairs to get the heart pumping.
- Riding technique is important to prevent injury. Make sure your riding position is comfortable and you feel no strain before you even start pedaling.
- Protect your lower back by being aware of any strain in that area and adjusting your position accordingly. There shouldn’t be much movement of the ankles as you pedal; keep your heels down and remember to push down and pull up on those pedals.
- After warming up off the bike, start your workout with a gentle pedal for a few minutes to check your position and comfort. When you are sure all is good, start into your full workout.
- Allow yourself to cool down – slow to a gentle pedal after your workout, and allow your heart rate and breathing to slow. Get off the bike and repeat your pre-workout stretches. Walk around for several minutes to bring your heart rate to normal. You will find that you will experience less muscle stiffness and discomfort with this strategy.
A stationary bike is a great type of indoor exercise because it offers a low-impact cardio workout with high intensity that can be adjusted to suit your level of fitness. Cycling builds strength and endurance, it can be done alone or you can join a spin class for extra fun.