Exercise bikes are fantastic. You can hop on yours wearing your PJs as soon as you wake up or squeeze in a quick 15 minutes while your kids are finally playing by themselves. You can pedal with your eyes closed listening to music, while Netflixing, or while you’re gossiping with your friends.
But are exercise bikes really good for your body?
The short answer is yes, but you have to choose the correct model. Read more about that below.
What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work?
An indoor bike primarily works your lower body, though some models will give your upper body an intense workout too. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right type of stationary bike for your needs.
Muscles Worked By Upright Bikes
Upright bikes are excellent for toning your legs, particularly your quads and calves. Some models allow you to pedal backwards and so you can target your legs from different angles.
Also, some upright bikes allow you to stand on them, which targets your glutes and hamstrings better.
When you’re pedalling on an upright bike, your core will act as a supporting muscle because you’ll have to contract your abs and lower back to maintain your upright position. However, while engaging your core certainly counts for toning and conditioning, you won’t notice increased muscle definition in this area.
Now let’s look at your arms.
The upright position doesn’t challenge your arms very much, though you will notice some muscle soreness after the first few workouts if you’re not used to exercising.
Pro tip: If you want to exercise your upper body on your upright bike, consider purchasing a model with incorporated resistance bands. Alternatively, check out YouTube for a gazillion of effective strength training workouts you can do on your upright bike.
Muscles Worked By Recumbent Bike
Recumbent bikes exercise your calves, hamstrings, and your quads. However, you’ll be leaning back, which means your back and upper body will get even less exercise than on an upright bike. Your glutes are also engaged less than on an upright bike because you’re sitting in a reclined position.
Surprisingly, your abs get a pretty solid workout when you’re pedalling on this type of indoor bike.
That’s because you’re leaning back slightly, so when you’re pushing with your legs on the pedals, your abs contract and release. These contractions activate your lower abs particularly well, but also your stomach area.
Pro tip: Use free weights on your recumbent bike to train your upper body as well.
Muscles Worked By Spin Bikes
Spin bikes are excellent total-body training tools because you can use them from different positions and various equipment. Besides, most spin bikes feature incorporated training programs, and some even come with resistance bands.
That means you can target your entire body’s muscles from different points to sculpt them and lose weight quickly.
Pro tip: Remember to take plenty of rest days if you’re feeling sore after an intense spinning workout. Muscles need time to recover because otherwise, they’ll strain and rupture instead of continuing to grow.
Are Exercise Bikes Good For Toning Legs?
Yes, stationary bikes are suitable for toning your legs because you’re using those legs to push against the pedals. Even if you set the resistance on low, you’ll still get those muscles activated, so they’ll be toned in no time – if you put in the work.
Do Exercise Bikes Build Leg Muscle?
Building muscle is entirely different from toning existing muscles.
So, yes, some indoor bikes will help you build leg muscle, but you’ll have to increase the resistance quite a lot. That means you’ll have to choose the right type of bike for increasing your lower body muscle mass, so you’ll need to learn about different types of resistance.
Here are some tips:
- Magnetic resistance is the best because it’s the easiest to adjust and also quite challenging.
- Choose a stationary bike with a heavy flywheel of at least 25 kg if your goal is to build leg muscle.
- Read user reviews before purchasing an indoor bike to find out if that upper resistance is challenging enough.
- Consider an assault bike with air resistance if you want to burn more calories as you’re building muscles. This type of stationary bike increases resistance when you pedal, so the faster you go, the more resistance you create for yourself. Conversely, magnetic-resistance bikes allow you to pedal as slow as you want at a preset resistance level.
Exercise bikes are excellent pieces of equipment to help you lose weight and to tone your muscles. Stationary bikes are best for the lower body, but you can quickly adapt them for your entire body.
But first, you’ll have to understand your needs very in-depth to figure out which model will suit you best.