6 tips for riding an exercise bike efficiently

Provided you have the right fitness machine, ride an exercise bike or spin bike allows you to follow a super effective cardio workout. This physical activity quickly raises your heart rate during sprints and gives your legs and glutes an intense burn if you use heavy resistance.

In addition, there are many online courses and even free videos on Youtube to increase your motivation. This means you'll be more likely to stick with your workouts. 

In addition, these types of sessions can improve your blood pressure and heart health. Not to mention the effects on weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. The bike can be used to accelerate the effects of a good slimming program.

But that's if you do it right!

Because, you could make your sessions significantly less effective without knowing it if you make some mistakes that you will discover in this article. Luckily, most of these common mistakes are pretty easy to fix, provided you pay attention to them and focus on better exercise habits. 

Here's what you need to fix and how to do it...

6 errors to correct when riding an exercise bike

ride an exercise bike or spin bike

Users often tend to think that pedaling and sweating is enough to get results. This is a mistake because the human body is a complex machine that requires some precautions to get the best out of it.

Improper use of sports equipment can lead to muscle damage rather than promote better health. Admit it would be a shame.

So here are some common mistakes with a spin bike or indoor cycle and how to fix them.

1. Holding the handlebars too tightly

Clinging to the handlebars like your life depended on it puts unnecessary strain on your forearms, neck, shoulders and upper trapezius bundle. This can lead to both discomfort during and after exercise, as well as long-term injury.

How to fix

Your hands should be on the sides of the handlebars with your thumbs up so you have a more natural arm position. This provides support for your upper body and encourages you to open your chest and better engage the lats and upper body muscles.

If you're seated, raise your shoulders up to your ears, then bring them back down and rolling them. Relax your arms, shoulders and grip. Also check the saddle adjustment.

In short, relax.

2. Not having the right resistance

When it comes to resistance, you need to put enough, but not too much. Find the one that is difficult, but not impossible.

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Insufficient strength does not provide sufficient support and may result in injury. This can happen during a low intensity recovery or on a sprint to get your heart rate up. You should still feel resistance equivalent to what you would on a real road. If you spin in a vacuum, it's no good.

On the other hand, too much resistance can impact your posture when in the saddle. You may tend to shrug your shoulders, which will cause tension in your neck and trapezius muscles.

You might feel the urge to thrust your hips forward and swing hard on the bike or spin bike. You are then using too much body weight due to the intensity of the exercise, which can lead to pain and injury to your knees or back.

Also, simply hitting a lot of resistance for several minutes of exercise can lead to a very rapid depletion of energy. This would leave you without juice before the end of the session and would be counterproductive if your main objective is to get rid of fat cells in the belly. 

How to fix

You will burn a maximum of calories by finding the right compromise between the minutes of cycling in sustained effort and the recovery phases.

You have to choose the right resistance in the different phases, not too hard, not too weak, not too glycerin (sorry, I couldn't help myself). This means listening to your body, but without being too nice either!

If you find yourself bouncing in the saddle or not having control of the movement, increase the resistance. And keep your RPM (rotations per minute) between 55 and 110.

3. Not engaging your hamstrings

There should be equal pressure and traction on the pedals. If there is none, you need to correct your movement. Of course, this implies that your fitness machine is equipped with effective toe clips.

Many people focus so much on pushing down that they forget the importance of pulling.

The latter is not only important for strengthening your hamstrings (back of the thighs). The pull helps strengthen your abdominal muscles (good for a flat stomach), but also the glutes, tibialis anterior muscles and calves. This effort will give more power to your pedal stroke and a smoother motion.

During exercise, focusing only on pushing down can also lead to excessive mobility of the pelvis and lower back, resulting in injury. By pulling and pushing, the hamstrings and buttocks work together to make it a great exercise, worthy of a leg session in a gym.

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How to fix

Practice pulling the pedals up during the effort. Your pedal strokes should be full in all directions, so that you get the maximum benefit and your exercise bike program is truly effective.

Here is something to help you visualize the movement. Pretend you want to smash something on the ground from front to back with your shoe during the rotation.

At the end of the session, you will really understand the interest of regular physical activity 😅

4. Not using the right settings

If your bike height and handlebar setup are incorrect, it's not only uncomfortable, it puts you at risk for all kinds of injuries. Painful knees, tense neck, pain in the lower back and shoulders: the list goes on.

Make sure your bike or spin bike is ready before you start your workout. If you're the only one using it, you only have to do it once and for all. But if there are several of you in the house, you will have to check before each session.

How to fix

Take your time, but be sure to ride in the best configuration for your body, so you have the most comfortable and beneficial position possible. In general, you need a rather high saddle to promote pedaling power.

Here are 2 methods to settle it well :

  • Put on your fitness or cycling shoes. Sit on the exercise bike or spin bike and put your heel on a pedal in a low position. Your leg should be fully extended.
  • Measure your inseam length without shoes or have someone measure it. Then multiply this figure by 0.885. This new figure gives you the distance you need to have between the bottom bracket axle and the hollow of the saddle.

As for the handlebars, it is above all a question of comfort. Do several trials if necessary to feel what works best for you. The distance between the front of the saddle and the handlebars should be roughly equivalent to the length of your forearm to keep your posture straight.

NOTE : If you share your equipment with others who have different settings, take the time to make marks for the saddle and handlebar height so that you don't get too confused each time.

5. Leaning too far forward or back

If you lean forward on the bike, you hurt your chest. Your position places more weight on the handlebars than on the saddle.

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Leaning too far back creates the same problem, but now you're pulling your shoulders. Also, you decrease the activation of your abdominal muscles, so you won't be able to work as efficiently.

How to fix

Stay centered on the bike during your session. This allows you to maintain a good balance in the core area, so you can work out efficiently.

You should still be able to look down and see your feet. And your arms should be straight when you're not in the saddle.

6. Swinging too much

Side-to-side rocking of the saddle is normal, especially around 65 rpm. It's not really a matter of form or risk of injury. But if you're too distracted by the rocking motion or are instead dancing to the beat of your uplifting music, you may not be focusing your attention on peak performance.

How to fix

Maintain a basic commitment and make sure the music doesn't distract you too much. Keep your hips back and above the saddle during the session. Always keep control of your position on the bike and your movements.

Choose the right material

spin bike Pro Form Tour de France
Pro-Form Tour de France spin bike

There are a lot of more or less expensive models. You must be very careful about the first prices because you will quickly regret your purchase because of the difficulties of adjustments and manual braking.

The ideal is to be equipped with an electromagnetic resistance system as on this affordable model at Pro-Form. It also offers you the possibility of participating in 24 stages (virtually of course 😅).

Of course, having a performance fitness watch is a huge plus for cardio training sessions.

Cycling: Conclusion

As you know, I'm more of a elliptical trainer for a full body workout in cardio. But the bike or the spin bike are also fabulous tools for working the lower limbs, the abdominal strap and the cardiovascular system. 

Associated with a balanced diet, they can work miracles so that you can find or keep the line. And that's already a lot 😉

If you do not know what diet to follow to lose weight without depriving yourself and never regain the lost pounds, I invite you to discover my program:

cheap weight loss program

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Related words: body temperature recovery time gluteal firmness water bottle water retention linear sessions

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