Exercise bikes are a preferred choice of many fitness enthusiasts and fans of conventional cycling alike. Not only do they work in all weather conditions, but they are also a perfect fit for rookies who can’t ride regular bikes just yet.
But even if you are a fan of cycling and love the feeling your body gets after an exhausting session, all of it can be undone if you spend too much time in an uncomfortable bike seat. So what can you do to make your cycling routine more fun and less painful? Let’s find out.
Find a Perfect Fit
First things first, you should properly set up your bike. Follow the needs of your body, what feels comfortable and what’s best to avoid.
One of the most common problems with biking is finding the right seat for you. Many bikes are manufactured with a certain ubiquity in mind to accommodate a wide range of riders.
Whether you’re a longtime bike enthusiast or only beginning to establish your routine, always take time to adjust your seat.
Often the issue is the height of the seat. If it’s too low, avoid the temptation of leaving it as it is. Even if it makes you feel like you’re putting in good mileage, this position will sacrifice your form.
With your knees bent this way, your legs won’t be able to support your body properly which can cause all kinds of pains in your back and thighs.
Alternatively, a too-high seat most probably means that you either cycle on tip-toes or your feet are too loose in the pedal straps. This also doesn’t provide proper support for your body mass, and you might not even get the results you’re aiming for.
Experts recommend to adjust your seat high enough for you to keep your feet flat on the pedal surface. Your legs should be mostly kept straight with only a slight bend in the knees.
Once the seat height is dealt with, let’s figure out what to do with the firmness of your bike seat. Many people find the initial experience of biking too painful precisely because spending too many hours in the wrong seat is a huge pain.
When the seat is simply too hard, you ache all over after the shortest of sessions and might not want to ever bike again.
To fix this, you can start with simpler solutions. The first option is to buy a removable seat cushion which can also widen your seat for extra comfort. There are plenty of types and sizes you can choose from at any specialized store.
If you can’t visit one in person where you can try the product yourself, it’s perfectly fine to buy a cushion online.
Another way to go around this problem is to look for bike models with universal seat poles: this way you can purchase any seat that fits you better. All you have to do is replace the one that came with your bike.
A good tip for any rider is to have your handlebars a bit higher than with conventional bikes. This will help you in building up your strength and help avoid muscle damage.
If you have a recumbent bike, using a cushion will work even better for your fitness. However, avoid using this form of padding on a regular basis if you want to actually get somewhere with working on your form and weight loss.
So you have your cushion sorted out, but can you lose weight on a recumbent bike? Experts say that chances of burning calories are, in fact, higher with this type of bike. Not only that, but you are likely to lose weight proportionally in all areas of your body.
Choose Comfortable Clothes
Unlike with many other forms of exercise, it’s best to practice cycling in the right type of shorts. If you cycle often, then throwing on a random pair of loose pants can actually make you pretty miserable: your thighs tend to get a lot of chafing when you cycle, and loose fabric will only make it worse.
Biker shorts are designed to keep you comfortable during long periods of time, so most professional cyclists don’t just choose those small shorts for the way they look.
And while the shorts might be a tight fit, they also don’t restrict blood circulation. Most bike shorts are made of smooth and comfortable fabrics that prevent your skin from chafing too much.
Some shorts even have special protection to reduce friction that causes soreness from spending too much time on a bike seat.
Another way to reduce chafing is to invest in a good pair of gel-padded shorts. When you exert a lot of energy, your body tends to sweat too fast which means there’s more friction between your skin and the seat.
Gel-padded shorts will not only last you longer but give you more comfort while riding in any bike seat.
Some riders also use chamois cream. Applying it in small amounts helps reduce friction between skin and clothing. The cream provides antibacterial effect and also comes in other forms like balm and powder.
Consistency Is Key
One of the reasons many people give up on cycling is the adjustment period. All new physical activities require time and effort. Your muscles need to get used to the new movements you introduce into your daily routine while your body has to adjust to the new levels of energy consumption.
If you don’t want to crash and burn on your first day, try to start with shorter cycling sessions and increase the exercise time gradually. Once you develop your sit bone, you won’t feel as many aches in all the tender parts of your body.
Your Stance Matters
It comes with little surprise that keeping the same position can eventually make you feel numb. It can even result in back pain and general discomfort. To battle this problem, try changing your stance every 10 minutes. By using different groups of muscles you will get better circulation and prevent numbness.
You can also try out a recumbent bike since most models keep your weight rested in one specific place while allowing your limbs better freedom of movement. But can you get a good workout on a recumbent bike?
Well, the main advantage of these bikes is full body support. This means better cardio and lower body workout since it mostly works on your calves, quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
All your careful precautions won’t mean much in the long run if you don’t follow a set routine or if you neglect your cycling schedule.
As mentioned before, after your body gets used to the new fitness regimen, it’s important to develop a routine best suited for your body type. It should also be adjusted according to any health conditions and considerations you might have.
We all sometimes feel bouts of laziness which leads us to skip a day or two, a session here and there. It’s a natural impulse, but do your best to resist it.
Unless you are sick or temporarily can’t cycle, stick to your routine and you will develop great core strength and improve your health in no time.