A stationary bike provides a solid cardiovascular workout, which, according to Carmichael Training Systems coach Andy Applegate, can be harder than an outdoor cycling workout. This is because you are riding against the resistance of the bike. If you are looking for a little social outlet while on the stationary bike, try a spinning fitness class.
Before starting out riding, properly adjust your stationary bike. This can make a huge difference with regard to comfort, calories burned and injury prevention. Begin by standing next to the bike and set the seat height so it is even with your hip height. Make sure the seat is tilted slightly forward to maximize the push and power you produce. Align the handlebars so they are higher than the seat. You want your lower back, arms and shoulder to be relaxed when stretched out to grab them.
When riding a stationary bike, the level of resistance is entirely up to you. Always ride at your own pace and level and never set the level of resistance so high that you cannot pedal. This can lead to knee injuries. When you are riding, make sure to pedal as you slowly increase the resistance so that you can assess how much tension you have added.
While riding, engage your core and make sure that you move your hips. It can be easy to try to keep your hips still because it feels as if you are emphasizing your quadriceps and hamstrings, but this can lead to injury in your knee and hip joints. When you pedal, think of pedaling in squares. This means to push your foot forward on the top section of the square and down against the front side. Along the bottom, act like you are scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe. Engage your hip flexors to do this. Finally, pull up the backside of the square. This form of pedaling allows for optimal efficiency.
Safety and Gear
A stationary bike can be very safe as long as you follow proper protocol. If you are taking a spin class, make sure your instructor is a certified group fitness instructor. Proper equipment for a stationary bike includes athletic shorts and properly fitting exercise shoes. The standard shoe for indoor cycling is a dedicated cycling shoe which has a rigid sole; sometimes cleats that fit onto the shoe are added, but these are not mandatory. Always begin your workout with a 5- to 10-minute easy spin to warm up and end your workout with a 5- to 10-minute cooldown.
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