There's a lot of interest in losing weight in the United States these days, and rightfully so. Just take a look around at the local mall and what do you see? Round faces and round bodies rolling through the stores just about everywhere you look.
According to Forbes.com, 74.1% of Americans exceed their allowable body mass index…and that was in 2007. I highly doubt that the figures have gotten better since then.
Dieting Alone Doesn't Cut It
It makes sense that getting down to a healthy weight involves correcting what goes into your mouth. But if that's all you do, you'll merely create a slightly smaller version of the flabby, puffy person you're trying to eliminate.
An healthy dose of regular exercise, along with the altered eating habits, is critical to achieving the type of weight loss that results in a strong and lean body.
It's the regularity of the exercise program that can be a real challenge, particularly if you live in an area that isn't blessed with optimum exercise weather for much of the year. Living up in the mountains of far Northern California, I know what it's like to be essentially house-bound for much of the snowy winter months.
That's when I rely on my bike trainer for maintaining my fitness level.
So What Is This Thing Called A Bike Trainer?
First off, let's define a bike trainer. Indoor bike trainers are portable devices that provide resistance to the rear wheel of your bike, allowing you to 'go for a ride' without leaving the house. Merely unfold the legs, attach the back tire of your bike to it, and start pedaling. Different types of bike trainers provide the workload in different ways, which we'll get to later.
Of course a stationary bike does the same thing, but a bike trainer takes up a lot less space when it's not in use…and it lets you put your bicycle to good use year-round. Think of it having a bike that is 'multi-tasking'.
What Does A Bike Trainer Provide?
There are quite a few benefits to using a bike trainer – a few of which I'll list here:
As mentioned above, a bike trainer takes up less room than a lot of exercise equipment.
Doing a pedal stroke on a bike is a lot less stressful to the joints than many other forms of exercise.
Exercising at home takes up less time than going to the gym…no travel time back and forth.
Exercising at home eliminates having to compete in the 'fashion show' at the gym.
A bike trainer lets you get in a workout regardless of the conditions outside.
For those who are conscious of making the most efficient use of resources, a bike trainer lets you use something that you already have (your bike) for indoor training, rather than adding another piece of stand-alone exercise equipment (a stationary bike, a treadmill, or an elliptical).
Different Bike Trainer Strokes For Different Bike Trainer Folks
Bike trainers largely come in three different categories, defined by the way in which they create the workload. They're broken down into wind trainers, magnetic (mag) trainers, and fluid trainers.
Wind Trainers are simple devices. Your rear wheel turns a roller which then turns an impeller (it's an impeller, rather than a propeller because the fins are oriented toward the shaft, instead of facing away from the shaft…like they are on a boat propeller).
The impeller grabs the air like a fan does and workload is created. Wind trainers are noted for their simplicity and thus their reliability. On the downside, they are relatively noisy and don't provide as much of a workload as do the mag trainers and the fluid trainers.
Mag Trainers create a workout by spinning a flywheel through the energy field of magnets. The whole concept is called 'Eddie current braking', and can be understood by reading the wikipedia article I've linked to.
Mag trainers, particularly the latest CycleOps Magneto trainers, are smooth, quiet, and provide plenty of resistance for even the strongest of riders.
Fluid Trainers also spin an impeller (much like the wind trainers), but they're spinning the impeller through silicone fluid. They're quieter and 'more powerful' than a wind trainer. An example of one of the most popular fluid trainers is the CycleOps Fluid2.
So That's My Pitch For Bike Trainers…
Well, that's my pitch for using a bike trainer to add the exercise component to a healthy weight loss program. My Kurt Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer has provided thousands of hours of indoor bike rides. It's a critical tool in not only getting me ready for the bike racing season, but also for keeping my weight at an optimum level.
I highly recommend investigating whether or not a bike trainer will meet your physical fitness needs.
About the author: Ron Fritzke reviews cycling gear on his site, Cycling-Review.com. Besides his private Chiropractic practice, he's on the Sports Medicine team at the College of the Siskiyous. A former 2:17 marathon runner, he now races his bike in Northern California.