What Is A Magnetic Exercise Bike & How Do They Work?

January 17, 2021
Jess Da Costa

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of magnetic exercise bikes and the technology they use to get our hearts racing!

First things first, what exactly is a magnetic exercise bike? Magnetic exercise bikes are resistance-based exercise machines and are actually the most common and most popular type of exercise bike. They are used widely across gyms and home gym settings alike and are most probably the exact image we think of when we hear the term “exercise bike”.

Magnetic exercise bikes are therefore fairly run-of-the-mill in terms of their basic set-up and function, but when we think of exercise bikes, the word “magnetic” wouldn’t necessarily pop straight into the average person’s mind if they didn’t already know a little bit about them. Where does the magnetism come in and why does it matter?

Magnetic exercise bikes combine the powers of magnetism and electricity to control a flywheel that dictates the resistance you feel when pedalling. The greater the resistance, the tougher the workout!

Magnets Create Resistance

You’re most likely familiar with how magnets work, repelling and attracting each other depending on what charge each of their poles has. The same principle is true in a magnetic exercise bike where the interaction between the magnets causes the flywheel to rotate, which is how the bike operates.

The introduction of electricity to the mix means that when more electrical current is passed through the magnets, the more powerfully they repel or attract one another. Because flywheels are engineered to resist changes to the speed at which they rotate, the more magnetic force that’s applied to the flywheel, the harder it’ll be for you to pedal.

When the flywheel is resisting its rotational velocity more intently, the rider feels this increased tension and has to push harder to continue moving the pedals, resulting in a tougher and more effective workout. So, when your spin class instructor tells you to “feel the burn”, they’re essentially telling you to embrace the fact that the flywheel inside your bike is working against you!

Cardio is a Key Component in Any Effective Workout

You’ve probably heard it from PE teachers, sports coaches, and personal trainers throughout your life – get that heart rate up! Cardio is a cornerstone for all workouts and is what gives us that feeling of huffing and puffing as our heartbeat drums in our ears.

Any activity that gets your heart rate up above its resting rate can be considered cardio and cycling on an exercise bike is an excellent example of this. Utilising both speed and resistance, pedalling a magnetic exercise bike is a sure-fire way to get that blood pumping and those calories burning.

Burning calories is also known as metabolising and is essentially the system by which your body converts food and drink (or stored fats) into energy for you to use in daily functions. Using an exercise bike is a great way to get those calories working for you!

Not only does burning calories create energy, but it can also help you shift those extra pounds – a task many of us will be looking to conquer this January.

If you’re looking to invest in a magnetic exercise bike to help you get into better shape, you can check out some highly rated options here.

Getting the Most Out of Your Workout

Just as the different models of bikes know no bounds, human bodies have their own unique requirements and preferences too. Make sure you listen to yours!

If you find yourself hunching over too much whilst pedalling, try adjusting the bike seat to find that sweet spot.

If your feet tend to slip off the pedals quite easily, try tightening the pedal straps or changing your footwear to see what works best.

To maximise the results of your workout, make sure you’re challenging yourself but don’t push yourself too hard or you may risk an injury. Stay hydrated whilst working out and keep a towel handy to pat yourself dry if necessary. These simple steps can help you to feel cooler and more comfortable.

Taking Care of Your Magnetic Exercise Bike

Generally speaking, exercise bikes are pretty low maintenance machines, and you shouldn’t need to get too technical to ensure yours keeps running smoothly. You won’t require any overly fancy tools or equipment to help you either.

First things first, make sure that you use a soft cloth or towel and some soapy water to wipe down your bike after each use. This will help to prevent the build up of rust, grime and other nasties as well as keeping your bike looking ship-shape!

Never spray any cleaning solutions directly onto the bike frame as this could lead to undue corrosion  or staining.

Another easy way to make sure your magnetic exercise bike is performing at its highest level is to monitor for excessive vibrations, shaking, or other instances of loosening. If you notice any part of the assembly shifting or weakening, you may need to use some basic tools such as a spanner or screwdriver to tighten the problem areas.

Different kinds of exercise bikes will require slightly different maintenance, but you should be able to find out what you need fairly easily when you purchase your bike.

If you end up opting for a more compact or foldable magnetic resistance bike, you might find that the maintenance is even simpler than that of standard models, and if you’re buying new then care instructions will be part of the deal.

Depending on how frequently and intensely you use your magnetic exercise bike, it might be worth carrying out more in-depth checks on its various components once in a while to make sure they’re all A-OK.

Low Impact Alternatives to Magnetic Exercise Bikes

Riding a magnetic exercise bike can feel quite similar to riding a regular bicycle (minus the fresh breeze whipping through your hair and possible bumps in the road!) and for some people, its still too high-impact of a workout.

For a similar cardio experience with a lower impact on your knees, hips and back, a cross-trainer or ‘elliptical’ might be a better alternative.

Because the footholds of a cross trainer are moved by the shifting weight of your whole body, rather than the more localised leg movements required on an exercise bike, cross trainers may offer a smoother ride (so to speak). Resistance can still be modified on a cross trainer to make the workout more challenging, but the potentially adverse effects on your joints may be lessened.

Cross trainers can also be used to target specific muscle groups which you can learn more about here. For example, using a cross trainer can be a great way to tone and build your arm muscles whereas the arms aren’t as active when using an exercise bike.

On a Balance

There are many reasons why magnetic exercise bikes are as prolific as they are today, and this illustrates how effective they are as workout tools.

Due to the sheer range of magnetic exercise bikes available, the number of features and enhancements is endless. If you want WIFI connectivity during your workout or simply a holder for your water bottle, the ideal fit  for you is out there.

Whether you’re bobbing along at a steady pace or switching it up with a high-octane spin session, movement is movement, and an exercise bike will definitely get you moving! There are so many options and variations out there, so find what works best for you and get pedalling!

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