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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 August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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