Just about everyone knows that an effective weight loss program needs a plan for both ‘calories in’ and ‘calories out’. You can’t just limit the caloric intake without incorporating an exercise program into the grand scheme of things…unless you’d like to eliminate muscle mass along with the fat that melts off. Do it that way and you’ll look into the mirror to find your former flabby self in a smaller flabby version.
When you incorporate a healthy exercise program into the mix, you’ll gain muscle mass – which not only looks better, but also burns more fat. And around and around it goes.
Get On A Bike, Both Indoors And Out
After a series of running injuries, I’ve arrived at riding my bike as my principle means of burning calories and maintaining my weight. Cycling is a ‘shock-free’ form of exercise and, contrary to what you may think, it can be done both indoors and out.
I’m sure you’re aware of the exercise bikes you see at the gym. While these allow you to ‘bike indoors’, they take up quite a bit of room and just add another piece of equipment to clutter up the house.
But there’s a smaller, more portable device that will transform your existing bike into an exercise bike. It’s called an indoor bicycle trainer. You attach the rear wheel of your bike to a bike trainer and the resistance in the roller that your tire runs against provides the workout.
With a bike trainer, your bicycle becomes a ‘four seasons’ exercise machine.
A Bike Trainer Has Its Advantages
- If you’re like most civilized folks, the weather’s usually pretty good indoors. You know…it rarely rains, the temperate is moderate, and you rarely let wind storms roar through the living room. When I think of bad cycling weather I usually think of cold winter days. After all, we live at the base of Mount Shasta. But there’s also a weather problem at the other end of the climate spectrum…searing hot weather. Regardless of the weather extremes, you can always ride your bike in the house when you’re on a bike trainer.
- I alluded to house clutter a few paragraphs ago. Having a lot of different exercise equipment in the house can get to be a problem. By using a combination of something you already have (a bicycle) and a bike trainer that folds up and stores away in a very small space when not in use, the house clutter is minimized.
- Beyond the issue of adverse weather, there are often other outside adversities that make riding a bike outdoors unpleasant or sometimes even dangerous. If you live in the city, for example, you’ll go shoulder-to-bumper with a few too many cars. If you live in the country, you’ll no doubt test the top-end speed of a few mean ranch dogs intent on gnawing on the bone that just so happens to be your ankle. In short, there are times when a safe, event-free indoor ride is a lot easier to get psyched up for than is an outdoor ride.
Which Bike Trainer’s Best For You?
Bike trainers are essentially broken down into three types, categorized by the way in which they provide the workload. There are fluid trainers, magnetic (mag) trainers, and wind trainers. Each has their upside and their downside.
- Fluid trainers have historically been at the top of the food chain in the world of bike trainers, although recent advances in mag trainers leave some people to question that hierarchy. Fluid trainers are relatively quiet, and provide nearly unlimited resistance for even the strongest of cyclists. The downside is that they are generally the most expensive of the three types, and some models are susceptible to leakage.
- Magnetic (mag) trainers provide resistance by spinning their flywheels through a magnetic field. Early models weren’t constructed well, thereby contributing to their reputation of not lasting long. This issue of durability has been greatly eliminated, and recent innovations such as the progressive resistance in the Cycleops Magneto bike trainer have made this type of bike trainer equal to the fluid trainer in many cyclists’ minds. But with the innovations have come increased costs, so they are now just about as expensive as the fluid trainers.
- Wind trainers generate resistance by moving air with a fan that is attached to the roller. Guess what? Moving air makes a lot of noise, and pushing something through air isn’t nearly as difficult as through fluid (like pushing an airplane through the air versus a submarine through the sea). Thus, the weaknesses of the wind trainer…noise and lack of top-end resistance. But this style is the simplest (fewer things to go wrong) and the least expensive…and often plenty of trainer for all but the most enthusiastic cyclist.
Winter Or Summer…Get On Your Bike!
So when you’re doing every thing you can to get that lean, mean, healthy physique you’ve envisioned for yourself, consider using your bicycle to provide the exercise leg of the journey. A bike is a great shock-free machine and when you couple it to an indoor bike trainer, you have an all-season tool for burning fat and generating lean body mass.
Just what the doctor ordered!
About the Author: Dr. Ron Fritzke spends hundreds of hours on his bike…both indoors and out. When he isn’t riding, he’s researching cycling equipment and writing about it on his website, Cycling-Review.com. His ‘day job’ is being a chiropractor in Mount Shasta, California as well as serving as the chiropractor on the Sports Medicine staff of the College of the Siskiyous.