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5 Mistakes People Make on the Exercise Bike

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Indoor cycling on an exercise bike is a good low-impact cardio workout for those having lower body joint issues like bad hips or knees. But when used improperly, the results can range from not getting as good a workout as one could, to increasing the risk of an injury.

Improper Seat Height

If using a bike at a gym, be sure to adjust the seat for your height before getting on. Ideally, it should be at waistband height. When pedaling, your legs should be outstretched at the bottom of the rotation and your thighs parallel to the ground at the top of the stroke.

Wrong Tension Adjustment

Adjusting the tension can be tricky at first. With no tension, you will not get the full cardio workout and it is easy “freewheel” where you pedal too fast. But with too much tension, you’ll tire out before getting to your target workout time. So the best advice is to start out with some tension to keep from freewheeling and as your body adjusts and strengthens, gradually add more. Some bikes have programs built into them where they control the tension based on the built-in program you select. So, it might increase the tension where it simulates you are pedaling uphill, but and ease off when coming back down.

Slouching Over

Even with the seat adjusted properly, it is easy to get into the routine of slouching over the handlebars. Don’t do this. By sitting upright and as straight as possible, you work your abdominal core thereby strengthening the muscles supporting your back.

Pedaling Too Fast

Along with too much resistance wearing you out, so can pedaling too fast. Try to keep your rounds per minute (RPMs) between 80 and 120. Any faster and you run the risk of freewheeling, just like with too little resistance.

Not Breathing Properly

People tend to breathe “shallow” when riding a stationary bike for some unknown reason. Proper breathing not only gets additional oxygen into your lungs and eventually to your muscles, but it also takes the waste out where it can be disposed of. The best breathing style when riding is what is known as “belly breathing”. As you inhale your stomach should extend out. When exhaling, pull your stomach in to expel as much air as you can out of your lungs.

Indoor cycling is a great low impact way to get a lower body workout and strengthen your abdominal core if done properly. Avoid these five common cycling mistakes and not only get a great workout, but an enjoyable one. If at a gym, ask a trainer to help you get your bike set up right the first time if unsure of the settings.

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