Vivian Grisogono


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There are many different types of exercise (static) bicycle, using different mechanisms and various kinds of resistance.
Many exercise bicycles include computerized readouts of workload, distance covered, time and sometimes a heart rate monitor. These can be called bicycle ergometers. The more sophisticated bicycles can be programmed to provide different types of workout, with a wide range of difficulty.

Benefits: The static bicycle works the front-thigh muscles, in particular the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the muscle groups of the lower leg. It is one of the few exercise activities which engages the hamstrings as strongly as the front-thigh. It is aerobic exercise, and provides endurance training for the leg muscles if you do it for long enough at a high enough intensity. Because it does not involve jarring or impact stresses through the legs, it is good alternative training as a background to endurance sports such as running and rowing.
Besides steady-state work, in which you pedal at a constant rate, you can also do interval work on the bicycle, cycling at very high intensity in short bursts, with easy pedalling for recovery in between.

Rehabilitation: The static bicycle can also be used to improve knee mobility, for instance if the knee won’t bend properly following injury or surgery. This should only be done under guidance from your practitioner, when you are at the stage of recovery where it is appropriate. Do not do this if it causes pain or swelling in the knees.
To gain mobility, one uses the bicycle with no resistance. The saddle is set high, and you pedal gently backwards  and forwards at first, going to the limit of your knee movement, until you can achieve a full turn of the pedals backwards. You repeat the sequence, until you can achieve a full turn forwards. Then you lower the saddle a little, and repeat the exercise. You progress in this way until the knee can bend freely.

Preparation for normal exercise:
Adjust the saddle height so that your leg is fully straight at the end of the down-turn. Make sure it is not too high: your hips should remain level, and not tip to either side as you press on the pedals.  If the handle bars are adjustable, set them so that you can sit up and grip the handles comfortably.
Set the resistance or work programme, as appropriate.
Place your feet on the pedals and strap them in lightly, if a strap is provided.

Action: Start pedalling. To engage the lower leg muscles, point your toes downwards as you push the pedal down, drop the heel slightly on the downturn, and then point the toes downwards again as your leg comes upwards with the pedal. Try to keep your back and shoulders steady, and hold your head up.

If you are new to cycling, start with just 1-2 minutes at a steady pace. For an aerobic workout, you need to build up to cycling about 20 minutes at a fairly high intensity, but not to exhaustion. You can break up the workout into sections of, for instance, 5 minutes’ cycling at a time. You can cycle for longer, for instance if you particularly need to train for a long-distance endurance event.

Avoid pain. If your knees ache after cycling, you may have done too much, you may be dehydrated, or the saddle may have been slightly too low. Stretch your front-thigh muscles, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh) and calves in particular after a hard workout.
© Vivian Grisogono 2008
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