When you’re looking for an indoor cardio fitness activity but are tired of the treadmill, you might give some thought to riding a bike. Both traditional exercise bikes and spin bikes are common sights in gyms everywhere, and that’s because they’re both incredibly effective cardio machines.
Riding a bike is one of the best cardio activities for fitness enthusiasts of all levels. It offers you a good heart-pumping workout and helps provide endurance training as well. Each offer amazing health benefits, but there are some key differences.
Exercise bikes can be categorised three ways: spin bikes, recumbent bikes, and upright bikes. Each works differently and will ultimately provide a different result for you. All have unique riding experiences with bike-specific advantages and disadvantages.
However, one thing is common in all three. No matter which bike you’re riding, you’re going to sit on a seat and pedal to get in a cardio workout that targets your lower body and core. With all three types of bikes, you can vary the intensity of your workout and achieve different workout goals. They can all help you maintain and improve your endurance, VO2 max, and fitness milestones.
Traditional Exercise Bikes – Recumbent and Upright
Both recumbent and upright bikes are grouped into the traditional exercise bike category.
A traditional upright exercise bike resembles a road bike without tyres. The seat, handlebars, and pedals are attached to a solid base that prevents the bike from moving. While the rider pedals, caloric burn is tallied and displayed on a screen. The seat of a traditional exercise bike is adjustable, making it suitable for users of all heights. The seat is generally wider than a regular road bicycle seat. This makes it more comfortable for a variety of body shapes.
Some traditional exercise bikes are created so the user can stand up whilst pedalling; others are not. Remaining in an upright position while performing a cardio exercise can be extremely helpful to aid in recovery efforts for those who have back issues.
The digital display on a traditional exercise bike provides metrics for the user. These often include the following.
- Heart rate
- Calories burned
- Customisable programmes for specific goals (caloric or endurance)
Traditional exercise bikes are similar to a treadmill in that it can offer a solo cardio activity either at a gym or at home. It prevents injury that might occur while cycling out of doors and can be performed in any weather.
A recumbent bike has a large padded seat that offers back support and looks like a chair. The pedals are positioned in front of the user. Sometimes the pedalling movement can feel awkward to start because of the angle of the user’s leg in relation to the rest of the body. However, a recumbent bike can offer cardio advantages to people who have back problems, who are new to working out, or for whom age might be a deciding factor. A recumbent bike offers an amazing cardio workout no matter who uses it. The seating arrangement of a recumbent bike provides an isolated lower body workout without putting additional strain on the rest of the body.
With a recumbent bike, once the pedals aren’t pushed, the bike stops moving. Resistance is provided via a magnetic system and can be toggled via the display screen. Generally, displays on the best recumbent bikes are large and easy to read. They provide a variety of data, including calories burned and distance biked. Customisable programmes allow users to create workouts that align with their personal fitness goals.
Recumbent bikes need to be plugged into an electric source to work fully and are generally larger than Spin bikes or upright bikes.
Benefits of a Traditional Exercise Bike
No matter if the bike is an upright or a recumbent, each offer cardio benefits. Indoor cycling is very safe for a variety of reasons.
First, being indoors helps to prevent the possibility of being hit by a motorist. You don’t have to deal with inclement weather, collisions, with pedestrians, or injuries from falling.
Improved muscle strength and a stronger heart help improve overall fitness. You can achieve both with a traditional exercise bike. As with other cardio activities, cycling isn’t likely going to get easier, but you will get better over time, making it more enjoyable and exciting.
Indoor cycling helps to incorporate many large muscle groups, which helps improve endurance and increase your metabolism. This is because leam body mass is highly metabolically active; it requires more calories than fat to be maintained. The more muscle your body has to support, the more it will burn.
Speaking of calories, indoor cycling offers a boon for your caloric burn efforts. You can easily burn 500 calories in less than an hour.
The low-impact nature of traditional exercise bikes means you’re less likely to get injured than if you were running. Of course, proper form is essential when using a stationary bike, but when used correctly, you’re most likely not going to develop a hip, knee, or joint issue.
What is a Spin Bike?
The Spin Bike has been around for almost forty years and is present in gyms worldwide. Originally, it was used by professional cyclists as a training tool during off season competition prep because it more closely resembles riding on outdoor terrain than a traditional bike.
It’s a stripped-down version of a road bike. It simulates the cardio benefits of a racing bike but can be performed indoors. A rider must maintain an upright position while using the bike, helping to engage core and leg muscles. A Spin Bike seat is generally narrower than a traditional exercise bike and is adjustable to offer the user the option of cycling while standing or sitting. Often, a Spin Bike doesn’t have a display. Instead, there’s a manual adjustment knob to increase or decrease resistance.
Note: Click the following link to see a selection of the best spin bikes on the market.
Benefits of a Spin Bike
A Spin bike engages your entire body every time you stand up, so it becomes more than just a lower-body workout. You’re likely to spend more calories during a Spin bike workout for this reason.
Spin bikes can be great if you’re training for a road race, or if you’re considering getting into cycling as a competitive sport. It offers you much of the same sort of experience you would get cycling outdoors but can be done at any time.
Spin bikes give you the chance to train in various positions, which can be motivating if you tend to get bored easily. Reinforced frames mean that no matter how hard you cycle the Spin bike isn’t going to move. This reinforced frame also means that a spin bike can generally support heavier weights than traditional exercise bikes.
Using a spin bike can be a great stand-alone cardio workout, or you can use it as part of a warmup for a dynamic lifting or cross-training. Even just ten minutes on a spin bike can give you a heart-pumping cardio warmup, priming your muscles for compound lifts or HIIT. After an intense lift, a spin bike can also be a dynamic cool-down tool that helps lower heart rates naturally and prevents cramping.
Spin Bike vs Exercise Bike – Which one’s for you?
Deciding between a Spin bike and a traditional exercise bike is a very personal choice. It’s going to depend greatly on your own personal fitness goals. If you want to simulate the feel of a road bike experience, then a Spin Bike is an easy choice. But if your main goal is to improve your fitness and cardio, then a traditional exercise bike would be more reasonable. No matter which you choose, a cycling routine is an excellent way to take another definite step toward your fitness goals.
Stationary traditional exercise bikes are most often used by people as part of a comprehensive fitness routine. They’re generally suited for anyone who wants to improve their cardio, improve muscle strength, and/or aid in weight loss efforts. Most often, they’re used solo.
Spin bikes are most often used as part of a group fitness class. Most spin bike enthusiasts are also avid cyclists, who use the spin workout as part of overall training. They most closely mimic the body position of a road bike; the handlebar is low, so you’re hunched over while riding.
If a Spin bike is used only while sitting, a user’s injury risk is going to be very low, thanks to the flywheel mechanism which keeps the bike in motion and is less impacting on the joints. However, if you’re planning to stand while spinning, your injury risk greatly increases because of the greater range of movement.
A Spin Bike has a different flywheel mechanism than a traditional exercise bike. The flywheel present on a Spin Bike is generally heavier and connects directly to the pedals via a chain. For a user to get the bike moving, s/he must push hard on the pedals. Inertial keeps the pedals and chain spinning even if the rider stops pedalling. In this way, a Spin Bike mimics the variable resistance you might find when riding outside.
On both a traditional bike and a spin bike, you’re able to increase the resistant level, making your workouts harder to complete. The harder your muscles are worked, the stronger they become. This is true for your heart as well. Both bike styles will provide you with training to cycle for longer distances at greater speeds if that’s your training approach. But standing and cycling as with a Spin bike gives you more exercise variation and can ultimately lead to more engaging and fulfilling workouts.
Both bikes will target similar muscle groups – until you stand up on a Spin bike. Regular cycling engages your core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. When you stand, your workout goes from lower body centric to full body. That’s because standing helps to engage your upper body as well. If cycling is your main type of exercise, it might be beneficial to use a spin bike, since it will be more efficient overall.
Caloric goals are another factor to consider when choosing between a traditional bike and a Spin bike. Spin bikes tend to give a higher calorie burn because you’re engaging more muscles to complete the exercise and because it takes more energy to keep the flywheel moving.
No matter which type of bike you select for your workout, you’re going to receive major benefits. Indoor cycling can help you burn upwards of 500 calories in less than an hour and provides a low-impact cardio activity. Indoor biking is great f or users of all age groups and all fitness levels. It’s an easy cardio exercise that doesn’t require a large amount of oversight from a coach or a trainer. It doesn’t create strain or stress on joints, tendons, and ligaments, so it’s well-suited for all users.
Accountability and motivation from group Spin classes can help you stay aligned with your fitness goals, or you can cycle through some much-needed solo time. Burn tons of calories, increase your on-road performance, and connect with others who love cycling as much you. Spinning gives you a chance to engage in a cardio activity and really have fun while doing it. Set your own pace and enjoy a variety of adaptive road profiles on your bike. Spinning gives you both endurance and cardio training.
Whether you need that external motivation is up to you; either way, indoor cycling can help you stay on track with your fitness plans. Both offer lower-impact cardio sessions that promote high VO2 max thresholds and increase lean muscle mass.