A spin bike is one of three types of exercise bike also known as a stationary bike. The others are the recumbent and the upright.
In this post, I’m going compare and contrast them by describing how each one works, what type of workout you get and who they are for.
This will help in working out which one is the best one for reaching oyur fitness and health goals.
They each provide a different riding experience and have advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other.
However, there are some obvious similarities between all three types of exercise bike.
In all three you sit on a seat and pedal to get your workout. You get a cardiovascular workout that targets your lower body and legs.
With all three you can vary the intensity of the workouts. They all can help you to maintain and improve your fitness plus burn calories that can help with weight loss.
The spin bike was developed in the 1980s. It is also known as an indoor cycling bike. It is designed to give a riding experience similar to that you get when riding an outdoor bike. It is used by cyclists to get training when the weather prevents training outside as well as spinning type workouts or people just wanting to get fit.
You sit on a bike seat (with all the comfort issues you associate with this type of seat) and lean forward to the handlebars so your posture is like the one when you are on an outdoor bike. The pedals turn a heavy flywheel at the front of the bike that gives the similar pedaling experience to that of an outdoor bike. It has a fixed gear so the pedals keep turning from the weight of flywheel even though you’ve stopped pushing the pedals with your feet. Thiskeeps you working when slowing down.
The crank shaft is sturdy and pedals are the same as those that you get on the bike. You manually apply resistance to the flywheel to be able to work hard pedaling like you do when you are going up a hill. Just like an outdoor bike you can stand up on the pedals for more leverage and speed for hill work and sprinting.
There normally is not much in the way of accessories with these bikes. You may get a water bottle holder and basic console with a small LCD screen letting you see things like RPM. distance, speed and calories burned. If you want to follow along to a workout you need to come up with your own workouts or watch a video or use a written plan.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Recumbent exercise bikes have a big padded seat with a back support like a chair and the pedals are positioned out in the front of you. The cycling motion can feel a little uncomfortable at first because of the angle of your legs to your body. This seating arrangement can help people with back problems to continue to get a good cardiovascular workout.
Unlike the spin bike when you stop pushing on the pedals they stop turning. The resistance is provided by magnetic system with levels of resistance that you can quickly move up and down using the console.
The console included with recumbent bikes is big and can have lots of different data displayed at once to keep track of your progress. It is also possible to have workouts programmed in to follow along to – with a variety of intensities and difficulties. You can get high intense workouts with a recumbent but you aren’t working as much of your body as you do with a spin bike workout. The design isolates the legs and helps to strengthen the legs and glutes without putting pressure on the rest of the body.
They often need to be plugged into the wall socket to work fully. They also have accessories to help you in getting in the right frame of mind for exercising. These can include somewhere for your water bottle, to rest a book, somewhere to plug in your MP3 player with speakers so everything is at hand for your workout.
They are larger than the other 2 types of exercise bike to accommodate the recumbent position of your body. This is something to consider if you don’t have much room in your home.
Upright Exercise Bike
The Upright Bike is the most popular type of exercise bike. The seating arrangement is similar to an outdoor bike but the handlebars are higher up so you are sat more upright and the seats tend to be larger and more padded than outdoor bikes. This gives a more comfortable experience and you are not bent over pedaling like you are with a spin bike.
Again when you stop pedaling the pedals stop turning. There can be a wide variety in prices for these bikes with the least expensive being manually controlled for resistance and the more expensive ones having electronics in a similar way to recumbent bikes including have resistance levels you can set rather than just having incremental increases with no guide as to how much you have applied.
They often come with a console that is similar to the recumbent. It can be a large console with data for recording your workout results, heart rate, intensity etc all set out in front of you. They’ll have space for your drink bottle, speakers for your MP3 player and you can easily read a book if you want to. They can also have different workouts programmed into them from beginner to advanced. When working out you exercise your legs and back and abdominal muscles. There are also variations where you can get exercise your arms too – such as with the Airdyne models.
The bikes can be the easiest to store out of the way as they are not that heavy, take up less room and some models can be folded up.
If you are wanting to replicate spin class type workouts or train indoors for your cycling then a spin bike is best choice for you. The level of intensity is up to you on the bike and it can be used by beginners and those wanting to really push themselves to the limit.
The recumbent bikes tend to be the most expensive choice. You can still get a good intense workout with them but with more comfort and less straining of the back. They are often recommended for people with lower back injuries or those who need to avoid impacting their joints as they give a lower impact workout. They are great if you want to see feedback on your performance or you want to follow along to a workout that has been programmed in.
The upright exercise bikes are great if you don’t want to be sat in a recumbent position while you workout and you aren’t interested in the high intensity of spin-like workouts or indoor cycle training then these bikes are good option. You can get an intense workout with these too but with more comfort and feedback on how you are doing.
If you want to know more about the styles and which style is best to help you achieve your personal fitness goals please check out our Find Your Style Here guide post. Or ask a question in the comments below.