For the past five years or so, spin bikes have grown in popularity at an exponential rate. Now, almost every city in North America offers some form of spin class, where people get together and get an effective fat-burning workout together. This begs the question – what’s a spin bike and how is it any different from the other primary type of exercise bike – the upright bike?
The Upright Bike
For the majority of the time that stationary cycling has been an activity, it has been dominated by the upright bike. An upright bike is operated by a user sitting on a padded cushion with the intention of them remaining in a seated position for the entirety of the workout. Also, users of an upright bike keep their posture somewhere in between entirely upright and hunched over. An upright bike can be a pretty big piece of equipment, with large displays and things like water bottle holders being the standard.
The pedals on an upright bike aren’t extremely reinforced and aren’t designed to be used in a standing position. The muscle groups targeted during use are almost exclusively found in the lower body, with the calves and thighs being the most engaged muscle groups. Also, upright bikes tend to lose their stability when used in a very vigorous fashion, forcing the users to change the resistance accordingly if they plan on using the bike safely at that intensity.
The Spin Bike
Now, to the spin bike. Firstly, a spin bike is much less restrictive on the user as far as the range of positions and types of workouts offered are concerned. While they do have a seat, they are usually much less significant than on an upright bike and serve to be a minor source of support or reprieve, as opposed to a dedicated sitting area.
The spin bike can be used in a standing position, creating a workout closer to an elliptical than to an upright bike. This means the whole body becomes engaged in the workout, as opposed to just the calves and the thighs. Nearly any position is supported on a spin bike, and you can engage your abdomen to help transfer force downwards towards the pedals, as well as engage your triceps and biceps in supporting your whole body. People who surf or wakeboard use these machines to get in wave shape since it contributes to a very lean body type after consistent use.
Because you can use them while standing, they have heavier frames and flywheels to support vigorous cycling and serve more as interval and strength training machines, compared to the focus of the upright bike being mostly on endurance and raw cardio training.
Which Is Best for Me?
The upright bike is an excellent choice if you’re starting to work out and want to keep things light, while still burning calories and engaging your body. The upright bike is suited for those looking to increase their stamina and manage their cardiovascular health. On the other hand, the spin bike is excellent for those who want to improve their whole body fitness and get a leaner body type.
The takeaway is that upright bikes are a much more casual choice, compared to the more hardcore nature of spin bikes.