Sunny Exercise/Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike Review

After a Winter of doing mostly weight lifting workouts, I started to feel like I needed to work some cardiovascular exercise into my fitness regimen.

In the past, my main sources of indoor cardiovascular exercise have been exercise bikes and rowing machines. Though I do like rowing machines, I really like the leg workout I get from cranking up the tension/friction on an indoor exercise bike. Also, I’ve typically discovered you can find used exercise bikes on Craig’s List for peanuts.

When I checked Craig’s List this time, I wasn’t finding any great deals on the type of exercise bike I prefer: the ones with a heavy metal spinning wheel and a caliper type pad that pushes against the wheel to provide resistance. (The heavy metal wheel gives a nice smooth pedaling action–due to the circular momentum it generates–that I like.)

In any case, I started looking around the Web for new or used exercise bikes with good reviews. That’s when I came upon the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike.

Sunny Exercise Bike

Sunny Exercise Bike

It was under $125 (not too different from what people on Craig’s List were charging for similar used bikes) and got really good reviews..and lots of them! And if you’re a Amazon Prime member (like me), you get free shipping. (Note: the price has gone up recently, but it’s still a good deal under $140).

So I ordered one and it arrived in about 3 days.


The exercise bike comes partially assembled; but some assembly is still required.

The instructions for assembly are pretty well done and all the tools you need are included. The smaller parts you need for each step are put into separate plastic bags and tagged with the applicable step number referenced in the instructions (this is a great idea!).

It took me approximately 45 minutes to assemble it, and I’m in no way fast at assembling anything…:p.


The exercise bike comes with an “exercise computer” (batteries included) that mounts on the handle bar and tells you things like speed, time, distance, and calories burned. I truly doubt it can give you a very good estimate of calories burned when it really doesn’t know the resistance you’re using. The only useful information to me is the Time: I typically do a 30-minute session and dial up the resistance enough to be pretty exhausted by the end of those 30 minutes.

The pedals have toe clips (to help keep your feet from slipping off the pedals) which some people will like and others won’t. They don’t bother me.

A caveat: I’m only about 5’9″ and my legs aren’t particularly long, yet I’ve got the seat at nearly the highest height (i.e., the seat height is adjustable). If you’re tall and/or have long legs, you may not be able to get the seat high enough to comfortably fit you.


So far, I’ve done two 30-minute sessions. The wheel spins smoothly, I’m able to get plenty of friction from the resistance caliper, and both the seat (not too small or too large) and the rubber-covered handle bars are comfortable. It seems quite solid (not ticky-tacky) and doesn’t make much noise (especially if you’ve got it on a solid surface, like a basement floor).

In all, I’m very satisfied with the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike (especially for the price) and would recommend it to others wanting an inexpensive but good quality exercise bike for home use..:-).


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Angle at which you Hold or Grasp Dumbbells Can Make a Difference

A guy at the gym asked me if I had any ideas why doing bench presses using the Smith Machine bar was giving him shoulder pain. I told him that doing bench presses with dumbbells tended to give me shoulder pain, but not the Smith Machine. However, I suggested he try different grip widths, positioning of where the bar came down to his chest (higher vs lower on chest), weight used, and different bench angles (e.g., maybe adding one notch of incline could help..?).

Now it occurred to me that I too could try some of these variations when doing dumbbell presses to see if I could alleviate the shoulder pain I was experiencing.

Well, finally today, I tried some variations with my dumbbells that seem to make a difference. However:

  • they weren’t the variations I mentioned to the guy at the gym (probably because these variations are only relevant to using dumbbells, not a barbell)
  • I wasn’t using the dumbbells to do bench presses; I was using them as elevated grips on the floor for some downward slanting pushups (with my feet on a weight bench)

First, let me clarify what I was doing. I put on a 60 lb weighted vest and was doing downward slanted pushups with my feet up on my weight bench. Similar to the following, but (as I already mentioned) with the weighted vest and weight bench instead of a wobbly patio bench:


The other thing I was doing differently was putting my hands on slightly elevated dumbbell handles instead of flat on the ground. The dumbbells help to keep me slightly off the ground, which is helpful when I have the weighted vest on because it sags down slightly and tends to hit the ground before I get all the way down to the lowest position of the pushup motion; the slight elevation of the dumbbells alleviates the problem. I also kind of like having the grips because of the extra weight of the vest pushing me down.

In any case, I tried 3 different configurations of the dumbbells on the floor:







The linear configuration was the first one I tried, and–what do you know!–I experienced some of that same shoulder pain I experience when I do bench presses with dumbbells. It kinda makes sense because this is typically how I hold them when doing bench presses, though obviously I’m pushing the dumbbells upwards instead of pushing myself upward off of the dumbbells on the floor; it’s still the same motion relative to my shoulders.

The second configuration I used was the parallel configuration. I didn’t experience shoulder pain, but I didn’t like the feel of it as well; and it seems to work my triceps more than my pecs, when I’m really more interested in targeting my pecs when doing these. I probably need to experiment more with this particular configuration.

I then tried the third configuration pictured (“Angled/Triangle”). This was the winner for me! It felt like it was targeting my pecs more than the parallel configuration was, and–voila!–no shoulder pain. This felt like the most ‘natural’ configuration for doing the weighted downward slanted pushups of all. It makes me wonder if I can do a facsimile of this configuration when doing dumbbell bench presses to eliminate shoulder pain. I’ll have to test that in the future..

So in conclusion, suffice it to say that if you’re experiencing shoulder pain when using dumbbells–whether as handles for doing pushups or for doing bench presses–you should consider holding the dumbbells using these or other configurations to see if it makes a difference!

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Body Solid Dipping Belt Review


During my recent visits to the gym, I’ve been doing 6 sets of (forward-leaning) dips as part of my chest & arm focused workouts. I do the dips at one of those weight-assisted towers that also has the option of doing pull-ups (I do pull-ups at my tower at home). I place the weight assistance bar in the folded position so that my dips are unassisted. So really I’m just doing body weight dips.

I now weigh 170-175 lbs and if I do as many dips as I can, I’m doing sets of 16-20+ repetitions. That’s more reps than I tend to do for any of my other lifting exercises. I’d rather be in the area of 8-12 repetitions per set.

So, as a Christmas present to myself this year, I bought a weighted dip/dipping belt. A dip/dipping belt allows you to increase the weight you are pressing out in your dips by adding some weight plates that hang from your waist.

I went to Amazon and selected the Body Solid NB56 Nylon Dipping Belt because: 1) it was inexpensive, and 2) has good reviews.

I used the belt for the first time earlier today. Here is a brief review…

When I first got the belt, I noticed that–unlike dip belts I had used in the past–you have to step through the belt loop to get it up to your waist. Previous belts I had used had open loops that you wrap around your waist (much like a typical pant belt) and then closed the loop with the chain before putting on the weight plate. I wasn’t thrilled about this, but it’s not that big of a deal in practice.

Upon looking at the relatively large loop opening that goes around your waist, I was a little worried this thing would just slip off my waist and plummet to the ground as soon as I put a weight plate on it because my waist and hips are fairly slim (size 31). In actual use, this turned out to not be a problem at all; there was no slippage.

The belt is made out of a sturdy nylon material that seems sufficiently strong and durable for my intended usage of it.

Once at the gym, I put the belt on and started with a single 25 lb plate (exactly as shown in the photo above). It worked great and I was able to do slightly fewer than the normal number of dips I usually do in a set.

I then tried it with two 25 lb plates (total of 50 lbs). I maxed out at 10-12 reps for a set, which is about where I’d want to be. Though the number of reps was good, I thought my form suffered a bit and I wasn’t feeling it in my lower chest as much as I’d become accustomed to when doing purely body weight dips. Still I did 3 sets using 50 lbs and the belt and its attached chain didn’t seem strained at all (even though the max recommended weight is in fact 50 lbs; I think it could easily accommodate 75lbs or more).

I took off one of the 25 lb plates (returning to a single 25 lb plate), widened my grip, and did three more sets of dips. Now these felt pretty good and like something was happening in the lower chest area which is really my goal when doing these.

So, in conclusion, I give this belt a thumbs up for adding 25-75 lbs to your dips. I’m going to start with and use 25 lbs for a while–until that becomes too easy and my reps get too high–and gradually add more weight as long as I can maintain good form and feel the pump in my lower chest because that’s my experiential evidence that I’m getting the development in my lower chest that I’m looking for…:-).

If I find myself needing to go up to 100lbs or higher, I might opt for a seemingly heavier duty leather dipping belt, like the Body Solid Leather Dip Belt.


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One of the Best Back Muscle Exercises

Either freestanding bent over at the waist, or supported chest-down on a weight bench, back flies are one of the best exercises for back muscle development…

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The Leg Press is Your Friend

Leg Press Machine

Leg Press Machine

The leg press machine works some of the largest muscles in your body (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes). And when you’re working the largest muscles in your body, you’re burning a lot of calories!

On top of that, building these muscle groups makes it so you’re burning more calories even when you’re just sitting around (i.e., when you’re at rest).

Another version of the Leg Press Machine

Another version of the Leg Press Machine

Another thing I’ve noticed is that this machine does wonders for your butt (glutes). I didn’t have a leg press when I was doing workouts at home for a few years. Once I went back to the gym, I started doing leg press again…and my butt shaped up quickly and noticeably.

Now, some people will say that doing squats is better than doing the leg press…in terms of the intensity of the workout and the number of muscles worked (not just leg muscles). I believe this is true.

However, I’ve just never liked doing squats. I’ve tried them different ways and always found them uncomfortable to do and found myself often straining something and then not being able to do them again for some period of time due to pain.

Maybe I just never quite did them correctly (quite possible). However, between doing leg extensions, leg curls, and the leg press, I’m exercising those three large muscle groups quite intensely and I almost never experience discomfort or injure myself.

So, if you like doing squats and find you can do them without strains and injuries; that’s great.

Ultimately, though, the best workout exercises are the ones you’ll keep coming back to and doing again and again. And leg workouts–via the leg press or doing squats–are worth the investment in terms of calories burned (which is your best way to lose fat) and shapeliness of buttocks gained!


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