Indoor Cycle Trainer vs. Recumbent Bike Weight Loss

Spin classes on upright bikes may promote better weight-loss results.
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You walk into the gym knowing that weight loss is your goal and cardiovascular exercise is therefore necessary. Upon entering the cardiovascular zone, you're suddenly conflicted between choosing the recumbent bike or the upright cycle trainer. Although very little research has been done pertaining to the comparative cardiovascular benefits of the two bikes, you may want to consider the upright cycle trainer when trying to shed pounds.

Recumbent Bike Bio

The recumbent bike was originally designed for gym-goers looking for a form of cardiovascular exercise that wouldn't aggravate existing injuries. The structure of the bike creates an almost reclining positioning, which focuses on elevating the heart rate without using any additional muscle groups. For example, those suffering from back pain or balance issues may find the recumbent bike appropriate for their cardiovascular needs because it removes the element of core stabilization. In addition, those who suffer from knee injuries may find that the reclining position of the recumbent bike keeps their knees behind their feet and therefore decreases overall pressure on their joints.

Indoor Cycle Trainer Bio

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The indoor cycle trainer mimics the form and function of a tradition outdoor bike. The upright form forces the exerciser to maintain balance by engaging core muscles and to increase efforts by employing the use of upper-body strength. Because the knees are placed directly over the pedals, the bike is more efficient at reaching increased speeds, higher watts, higher heart rates and, therefore, more caloric burn. Since the bike applies a certain amount of added effort, the upright bike is not only great for cardiovascular training; it can also help to develop core strength and muscle tone.

The Science

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A study published in 2005 in the "Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation" concluded that users of both bikes showed no difference in the amount of oxygen intake during cardiovascular exercise. By finding that exercise on both bikes produced similar results, the researchers concluded that the cardiovascular differences between the two machines would be minimal or even nonexistent. Although the 2005 study indicated that both bikes are effective for cardiovascular fitness, the study also required participants to perform at a low-intensity rate. What makes the indoor cycle trainer more effective is its intensity-specific design, which forces the user to work harder as the workload increases and, even if the two machines offer similar cardiovascular benefits, the use of additional muscle groups on the upright bike would ultimately result in greater long-term results.

Tips and Considerations

Since no conclusive studies have been made regarding cardiovascular results at higher intensities, both the recumbent bike and the indoor cycle trainer are efficient tools for weight loss. Each exerciser will need to gauge which tool is most appropriate for her body's capabilities and individual goals. For either bike, start slowly. If you feel nauseous or dizzy, stop exercising and seek medical attention if needed. As always, consult your doctor prior to beginning any exercise regimen.

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