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9 Essential Tips to Make The Most of Your Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout

9 Essential Tips to Make The Most of Your Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout

Cycling on a recumbent exercise bike on a regular basis is an effective way to lose weight and get in better shape. Using one of these machines is safe, comfortable, and doesn’t place undue stress on your knees, hips, or lower back.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of people using recumbent bikes inefficiently, sometimes even plain old incorrectly. And while everyone is naturally allowed to do their own thing at the gym, I wanted to share a few of the tops tips I’ve learned from years of using a recumbent exercise bike on a near daily basis.

Take the following tips to heart to make the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout to lose weight and gain muscle more efficiently.

1. Adjust Your Seat

No doubt about it, the most common recumbent exercise bike error I see people make is failing to adjust the machine’s seat. Adjusting your bike’s seat literally takes seconds. Not only does it make things more comfortable, it also increases the effectiveness of your workout. Adjust your seat (by sliding it forward or backward) until your extended leg has a slight bend when on the far side of the pedaling cycle.

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2. Stretch It Out

Riding a recumbent exercise bike is like any other type of exercise – you need to be properly stretched out before beginning.

I’m a huge fan of dynamic stretching (moving while you stretch). The benefits of dynamic stretching are numerous, namely it warms up your muscles and improves their range of motion. Spend 5 minutes or so performing stretches such as lunges, toe touches, leg swings, and trunk rotations to get fully stretched out.

Check out Greatist’s full-body dynamic warm-up routine for ideas.

3. Warm Up on The Cycle

Never jump right into a workout. After you’re all stretched out, spend an additional 5 minutes pedaling lightly on your recumbent exercise bike. Personally, I start out slowly at a steady pace. I gradually pick up speed for roughly 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, I like to stand up, stretch again briefly, and then get back in the seat for a real workout.

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Warming up is important because it loosens up your muscles and increases your core body temperature before your workout begins.

4. Maintain Proper Form

Proper form is critical when riding your recumbent exercise bike. Not only does it help to prevent injury, it also helps you burn even more calories. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to lean forward. Keep your back aligned with and tight against the back of the seat. It’s okay to hold the handles at the sides of the seat during intense periods of cycling.

5. Select The Right Resistance

Many beginners to recumbent bikes have no clue which resistance to select. In fact, it’s all too common for people to set the resistance too high. Riding a recumbent exercise bike is like any other form of exercise. You don’t want to go all in right away. Select a comfortable resistance as you learn to use the bike. The higher the resistance, the more difficult it is to pedal. Naturally, this means your leg muscles are getting a better strength training workout. Yet you want to make sure that you can pedal fast enough to get your heart rate up as well.

I recommend adjusting the resistance multiple times during your workout. Pedal for periods with high resistance and switch them up with periods of low resistance to get the best overall workout.

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6. Try Interval Training

Just getting on a recumbent bike and pedaling is a great start. Yet, interval training is the key to unlocking the most health benefits possible. I’ve found interval training to be the most effective method of using my recumbent exercise bike – and studies, like this one from the American College of Sports Medicine, back me up.

The key to interval training is mixing short yet very intense bursts of pedaling with longer and much mellower periods of light pedaling. As I mentioned above, you can incorporate resistance changes into your interval training workout for even more intensity.

7. Select The Right Duration

The key to getting the most benefits from riding your recumbent exercise bike is pedaling for long enough. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio per day. They go on to state that 60 to 90 minutes of cardio per day (5 days per week) is best for weight loss.

8. Visit A Gym

There are 2 benefits of visiting a gym to ride a recumbent exercise bike.

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First, exercising with other people around provides huge motivation. I know I always pedal harder when people are watching me. There’s also the opportunity to join a cycling class. Testing out a recumbent exercise bike at the gym lets you get a feel for this particular type of exercise. These bikes are expensive and you don’t want to invest in one for your home unless you’re sure it’s right for you.

If you do decide to buy one, my post on the top 5 recumbent exercise bikes is for you.

9. Keep Busy While Cycling

My personal favorite tip on making the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout is to stay busy while you’re cycling. Unless I’m doing an intense interval training workout, I like to read a magazine or look through my phone while cycling. It makes the time go by so much faster! Some people I know even answer emails on their computer during their workout.

So there you have it – 9 of the top tips on how to make the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout. Are you already a fan of recumbent bikes? Do you have any other tips to add? Let me know in the comments below (I’m always looking to take my workout to the next level) and be sure to share this article if you found it helpful!

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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