Exercise bikes have been part of the fitness world for a long time, and they do not show signs of disappearing any time soon. There are several types of these bikes, from the stationary to the spin and elliptical bikes, which have all changed the fitness industry.
Part of their appeal, especially for spin bikes, lies in the fact that having them in the house is more affordable than building an entire gym in the home, in addition to being very easy to use and being a low impact exercise regime (that is, you do not need to suffer injuries in the joints). However, this also raises the question: are they good for a cardio session, or should you abandon them and try other aerobic exercise forms like running on the treadmill?
The answer in summary is yes, but there are several factors to keep in mind. There are some things you can do to make them as effective as possible in your workouts.
What are the benefits?
It offers a low-impact exercise
You likely do not want to suffer injuries to various body parts during an exercise session, but spinning is a low-impact exercise so you will not need to worry about that. It will not put a lot of pressure on the joints, unlike normal running exercises – so it is useful to staying fit even when you have knee injuries without making the pain worse.
Helps you to tone up
Even though the exercise does not risk damage to the joints, it forces multiple muscle groups in your body to get to work – your core, quads, bums, arms (depending on the workout), legs and thighs. Therefore, that 45-minute session eventually leads to toning of these areas, especially if you work hard on them.
If you also increase the resistance levels, it will give you extra power to become as toned as you wish, even on your arms and abs, and the introduction of weights will also force extra muscle groups to work. In fact, this is one advantage they have over stationary bikes, which will primarily work the legs, quads, thighs and bum only.
It is important to remember that spinning and exercise in general is not the only way to burn calories, but it helps in the process. In particular, spinning itself is a good way to burn them quickly – a typical class will last about 45 minutes, and you will burn up to 500 calories in one session.
However, this will also depend on your cycling frequency and how you do it, so this means that the calories you burn will be higher if you increase the resistance levels.
It helps you track your progress
Spin bikes have a great advantage over many exercise bikes – they have a monitor, which assists you to keep track of your progress. This includes your cycling speed, the calories you are burning, and the distance you are covering.
It has a similar feel to a road bike
Unlike stationary bikes, spin bikes have a similar feel to road bikes since they allow you to adjust the handlebars and seat, which means you can even do the exercise sessions while standing and leaning without looking awkward.
Comparing it with other exercise equipment
The ultimate decision to help you know whether a spin bike will give you good cardio is knowing what your goals are in terms of workouts and fitness, as well as if you have any injuries. Spin bikes are versatile enough to allow you to get a low-impact workout, while treadmills are great if you want to walk or run, and so on.
To help you make the most of your workouts on a spin bike, you need to set the bike to a certain level – some tips to help you on that include:
- Controlling the frequency and intensity – in order for you to get the most of your workout, it is important to select a bike that has various resistance levels that you can adjust. Start with a warm-up session for five minutes, then do moderate cycling for 150 minutes per week or vigorous cycling for 75 minutes a week. To make it even more effective, space out the moderate and high-intensity cycling sessions by alternating them between days so that you can get the best cardio workouts. As your fitness increases, you can work them within the same day using intervals of 20 to 30 minutes.
- Set up the bike correctly before starting your cycling session – this may seem like a minor task, but it is very important to set up your spin bike correctly so that you can make the most out of your spinning session and avoid the chances of struggling later due to pain. Some of the things to look out for when setting up include: Saddle height (the knees must be slightly bent when the pedal is at the bottom and the ball of your foot should rest completely on the pedal), saddle angle – must be in a horizontal position, backward and forward position of saddle, and the position of the handlebars.
- Combine it with other exercises – some studies show that an average spin class will burn between 400 to 600 calories, and the average class lasts about 45 minutes. If you spin three times a week, it means you are burning about 1200 to 1800 calories, but keep in mind that a pound of fat has about 3500 calories (you need to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound). Therefore, if you want visible results in weight loss, you need to combine it with other exercises and not allow any wiggle room.
- Balance things out – keep in mind that spinning will never be a substitute for weight training, even if you add weights to the training schedule. In fact, if you are not careful, it can result in injuries when you have improper form, hunch too much, or over-emphasize on the lower body. It is important to balance things out as much as possible.
Spin bikes can give you plenty of cardio that helps you build your fitness and stamina, but it is also important to balance things out and be careful with how you incorporate it into your regime to avoid overdoing things.