Choosing the Right Exercise Bike

An exercise bike allows you to work the muscles of the lower limbs and the endurance of a patient by simulating the operation of a bicycle. As it is mainly used indoors, it has the advantage of not being subject to weather or traffic conditions.

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  • What can an exercise bike be used for?

    An exercise bike can be used for basic fitness training, sports training for high-performance cyclists, lower limb rehabilitation or to perform a cardiopulmonary stress test.

    • Fitness: The exercise bike is the perfect equipment for basic fitness, provided you do it regularly. It can be used at home to regain physical fitness, for sports performance training and to build muscle without causing joint damage. Accompanied by an adapted diet, it can also help you burn fat and slim down. For this kind of gentle exercise cycling, an exercise bike with an upright back position should be favored.
    • Sports training: if the exercise bike is going to be used for sports training or for warm-up for high-performance cyclists, pedalling power becomes an essential factor. The user’s back must lean forward sharply to release maximum pedalling power.
    • Lower limb rehabilitation: If the exercise bike is going to be used for lower limb rehabilitation following an injury or operation,  sitting comfort is more important than pedalling power. A straight back is thus recommended in this case. The semi-recumbent position is also suitable, particularly to relieve the stress on the lumbar vertebrae and reduce back pain.
    • Cardiopulmonary exercise test: In this case the exercise bike is used to test the maximum performance of a patient’s cardiopulmonary function. The test is performed under the supervision of a pulmonologist or cardiologist. It takes place on a cycle ergometer (or treadmill) with a warm-up period followed by a gradual increase in power to reach the patient’s maximum capacity.
    Cardioline ergometer exercise bike

    Cardioline ergometer exercise bike

  • What accessories and features should I choose for an exercise bike?

    When choosing your exercise bike, you should take into account several characteristics depending on the use you want to make of it. These include the adjustment of the seat and handlebars, the type of resistance system, the type of console and measured parameters, and the different training programs.

    • Seat and handlebars: the adjustment of the seat and handlebars are important because they ensure the user’s comfort. We encourage you to choose a seat and handlebars that are adjustable in height.
    • Resistance systems: a distinction is made between the classic magnetic resistance system (manual or motorized) and the electromagnetic resistance system, which is intended more for high-performance cyclists (see “Which resistance system should I choose?”).
    • The console and measured parameters: the console is a kind of dashboard on the bike that gives the user real-time information on his or her performance. If the exercise bike offers training programs, these can be selected via the console (see “Which console should I choose?”).
    • Training programs: the available training programs offer varying levels of difficulty. Some training programs offer automatic variations in difficulty adapted according to the training goals (see “Which training programs should I choose?”).
  • Which resistance system should I choose?

    There are three types of resistance systems to choose from depending on what you are going to use your exercise bike for: the manual magnetic resistance system, the motorized magnetic resistance system and the electromagnetic resistance system.

    • Manual magnetic resistance system: this system slows down the flywheel thanks to several magnets that move closer together when resistance is increased. This increases the difficulty of the exercise for the user. This increase in resistance is achieved by turning a knob on the front of the unit by hand. This type of resistance is perfectly suited for beginners or occasional cycling for exercise.
      • Advantages: inexpensive, easy to use.
      • Disadvantages: few speeds available, no training programs, intended for a limited number of hours of use per week, less heavy duty, less fluid pedaling.
    • Motorized magnetic resistance system: this system is the same as the previous one except that the increase in resistance is not controlled by hand but from the console of the device. This type of system is adapted to a slightly more regular use of the bike.
      • Advantages: greater number of levels of resistance available, ease of use with resistance adjustment directly from the console, training programs available with a Wifi or Bluetooth connection, a more heavy duty bike that can withstand eight hours of use per week.
      • Disadvantages: more expensive than an exercise bike with a manual magnetic resistance system.
    • Electromagnetic resistance system (or cycle ergometer): here the resistance is provided via the console by an electromagnet, which makes braking more precise and silent. This system can be found on bikes intended for intensive use, especially for high-performance athletes.
      • Advantages: greater number of levels of resistance available, numerous training programs, great fluidity and comfort of use, heavy duty and durable bike allowing a use up to 12 hours per week.
      • Disadvantages: expensive.
  • Which console should I choose?

    The console allows you to view the user’s performance in real time. It gives essential information such as RPM speed, distance, average calories burned and time. These are all parameters that can play a significant motivational role for the user.

    This data can be displayed in a more or less interactive way, and the console you choose will depend on your requirements.

    Some exercise bikes also indicate the user’s heart rate and are equipped with a chest heart rate monitor.

    Cybex exercise bike

    Cybex exercise bike

  • Which training programs should I choose?

    Some exercise bikes can help the user organize his or her workouts by offering different programs. The choice of program will depend on what you are looking to work on: coordination and speed; strength and power; or aerobic capacity and increasing your anaerobic threshold. These programs often offer interval workouts, which is a good way to make progress.

    • Coordination and speed: the aim of the program here is to relearn how to pedal efficiently. Speed is the ability to turn your legs quickly. Working on speed helps improve coordination for better performance during the workout.
    • Muscular strengthening and power: for muscular strengthening the program consists of repeating a series of sustained efforts, with a limited pedalling speed. If you combine work on speed with work on muscular strengthening, you develop your power.
    • Increasing anaerobic threshold: The objective of the program is to decrease the production of lactic acid in the body at a given heart rate in order to increase the anaerobic threshold. During physical exertion when oxygen becomes limited, lactic acid is formed in the muscles to provide a greater amount of energy. The greater the effort, the more energy it requires, and the more lactic acid is likely to be created. The anaerobic threshold, also known as the “red zone”, is the threshold beyond which the amount of lactic acid produced can no longer be eliminated by the neutralizing substances present in the muscles. The anaerobic threshold evolves with the level of training: the higher it is, the better you will perform. This is why many would like to increase this threshold with training programs, especially for high-performance athletes.
    Precor exercise bike

    Precor exercise bike

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