Anyone use stationary exercise bikes?
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  1. #1
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    Anyone use stationary exercise bikes?

    So I'm a college student and currently don't have the funds for a new road bike. I have been riding on a stationary exercise bike at the local gym and plan to keep doing so throughout the winter and spring until I can get onto my old road bike from the 80's in the summer. I hope to be able to purchase a road bike later in the year and to start training for racing with the school's cycling team.

    Does anyone still use exercise bikes? It seems like rollers and trainers are the ways to go, but as I said earlier, those aren't options that are available to me.

    If anyone does still use exercise bikes, what kind of workout do you do? I use the old-school exercise bikes that are just a heavy wheel with friction resistance pads. They don't show cadence or heart rate or anything like that, so I'm sort of unsure of what to follow when training. All of the workouts I have read about use % effort determined by heart rate or keeping a certain cadence for a specific amount of time. Recently, I've just been doing multiple 1.5min-1.5min hard-rest intervals, but I'm not sure if I'm pushing hard enough or resting easy enough.

    Any input is appreciated!

  2. #2
    Poseur
    Reputation: GerryR's Avatar
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    Do you go to an antique gym? The stationary bike sounds pretty pathetic. I wouldn't consider no heart rate a huge deal since you can get a HRM at a pretty reasonable price, but no cadence? How about speed or distance? I think your best bet is to buy a HRM and then at least you'll have some indication of how hard you're working. That and an easy to read digital watch should actually be enough.
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  3. #3
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    It's doesn't seem like an antique gym. They also have exercise bikes that basically have computers connected to them and you can program your own workout and monitor your heart rate and such. I don't use these ones because I don't like the position you're in and how wide the saddles are. The bike I use is just a fixed gear with resistance pads, no electronic parts at all; feels like a real bike. I have been looking for a cheap yet reliable HRM, being on a college budget 'n all. Is the fact that the electronic exercise bikes have distance, time, HRM, etc... a good enough reason to be using those instead of the ones I'm currently using?

    Thanks for the advice.

  4. #4
    GeoCyclist
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    This is something I can write volumes on!

    I use stationary bikes for approximately 50% of the year. I work offshore on survey ships, and almost every ship Iíve been on has some type of exercise bike; current ship has a generic big seat comfort bike. Donít feel put off that your gymís stationary bikes donít have computers; this is typical with gyms that set up for mass spin classes and use basic spin bikes. You are correct about the difficulty in judging the quality of your workout without data. I use a Polar 725 HRM with a cadence sensor. You can Velcro the sensor and crank arm magnet to the bike, this is much cheaper than plastic ties. You donít have to have cadence, but it does give you a good reference; especially if you download your data into training software. If you are going to spend hours on a stationary bike, I would highly recommend using a HRM as a minimum.

    Now for the various types of workouts you can try, and you will need variation to keep motivated. I do intervals, hill climbs, pace line and time trial simulations; anything to keep the mind occupied. I find it essential to have a target or programme in mind before each exercise. I generally spin for 60 to 90 minutes with a goal of 1000 to 1200 calorie burn. I find tracking my workouts via training software or spread sheets is also really helpful to stay motivated; if you skip (or coast through) a workout it is staring you in the face every time you look at your data history.

    Riding a stationary bike in a solo environment is NOT fun; this is exercise to achieve a goal. You have to focus on the result you want to achieve, and think about how your stationary time will benefit the time you will eventually spend on the bike. I trained for four months on a stationary bike prior to cycling through the Pyrenees last June. I wasnít the fastest person on the ride, but I hung with the pack.

    Best of luck!

  5. #5
    In dog years, I'm dead.
    Reputation: burtronix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoCyclist
    I use stationary bikes for approximately 50% of the year. I work offshore on survey ships, and almost every ship Iíve been on has some type of exercise bike; current ship has a generic big seat comfort bike. Donít feel put off that your gymís stationary bikes donít have computers; this is typical with gyms that set up for mass spin classes and use basic spin bikes. You are correct about the difficulty in judging the quality of your workout without data. I use a Polar 725 HRM with a cadence sensor. You can Velcro the sensor and crank arm magnet to the bike, this is much cheaper than plastic ties. You donít have to have cadence, but it does give you a good reference; especially if you download your data into training software. If you are going to spend hours on a stationary bike, I would highly recommend using a HRM as a minimum.

    Now for the various types of workouts you can try, and you will need variation to keep motivated. I do intervals, hill climbs, pace line and time trial simulations; anything to keep the mind occupied. I find it essential to have a target or programme in mind before each exercise. I generally spin for 60 to 90 minutes with a goal of 1000 to 1200 calorie burn. I find tracking my workouts via training software or spread sheets is also really helpful to stay motivated; if you skip (or coast through) a workout it is staring you in the face every time you look at your data history.

    Riding a stationary bike in a solo environment is NOT fun; this is exercise to achieve a goal. You have to focus on the result you want to achieve, and think about how your stationary time will benefit the time you will eventually spend on the bike. I trained for four months on a stationary bike prior to cycling through the Pyrenees last June. I wasnít the fastest person on the ride, but I hung with the pack.

    Best of luck!
    I agree with this post 100%, but would like to add the following:

    Regarding the quality of your workouts - anything is better than nothing. Even if you can't get the HRM & log your workout data in a computer, do keep a workout journal & record your Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE). If you can't get to a stationary bike for a while, do push ups & sit ups for core-strength & a bit of running for cardio & legs. Anything to keep all the parts moving & keep you from loosing too much fitness before you can get back to the bike again.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info! I never thought of keeping a journal so I'll have to start that. I'll also have to get more familiar with the different types of training regiments, haha. I'll hopefully be getting a HRM soon.

    Just curious, is running just as beneficial as biking for winter training for a wannabe-racer? Or should biking be the main mode of training?

  7. #7
    In dog years, I'm dead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Y
    Just curious, is running just as beneficial as biking for winter training for a wannabe-racer? Or should biking be the main mode of training?
    If you plan on bike racing, running is not as effective as training on a bike. However, it is better than nothing & it is a good cross-training choice to mix in with bike riding. The training experts all say that in order to get fast in a specific sport, you have to do a significant volume of training in that sport.

    I used to be strictly a swimmer, but now I'm doing triathlons. I tried a swim race in the middle of my triathlon season & found that I had slowed down a bit, even though I was in better overall shape. Having said that, I'm still a much faster swimmer than most of the other triathletes in my age group. Triathletes generally aren't extremely fast in any one sport because we spread our training around. If we were to focus on one discipline, we would get faster in that discipline but slow down in the others.

  8. #8
    that ain't chamois cream
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    Use what you can when you can. Don't let all the talk around here of power meters etc. get you down - there's still plenty you can do. If you feel you need an HRM: check eBay for a cheapie that will be good enough for now. Also check whether you can use a bike at your gym that can detect just the sensor portion (i.e., you only need to wear the chest strap, and it just magically "sees" it) - that way you only need the chest strap not the watch portion.

    Cadence: music stores sell small electronic metronomes. Set it to the rate you want to spin at, and just spin in time with the ticking. Or even make a recording of a metronome ticking away at different rates over a 60 minute period in a way that matches the workout you're doing, then play it back on your mp3 player if you have one so it will pace your workouts.

  9. #9
    GeoCyclist
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    Do you want a Free Polar HRM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Y
    Thanks for the info! I never thought of keeping a journal so I'll have to start that. I'll also have to get more familiar with the different types of training regiments, haha. I'll hopefully be getting a HRM soon.

    Just curious, is running just as beneficial as biking for winter training for a wannabe-racer? Or should biking be the main mode of training?
    Colin

    I scored a new Polar S625X for Christmas. Do I have a nice wife or what!

    Anyway, I expect to be back home the first week of Feb. I you want a free USED Polar S725 with manual and Polar precision software Iíll mail you my S725 that I will no longer use. The S725 will not download to the new version of the Polar precision software.

    You can PM me with a mailing address if you want the HRM.

    Merry Christmas!
    Geocyclist

  10. #10
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    I'll be sure to stick to biking because I'm pretty sure I won't be trying any tri's any time soon seeing as I still can't swim... haha.

    Thanks for the advice MontyCrisco, the cadence advice is genius.

    And GeoCyclist, PM sent

    Colin

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