Menu Close

Top Recumbent Bike Workouts

Recumbent Bike Workouts

The recumbent exercise bike is a mainstay of most commercial gym cardio areas. They’re also popular in the home gym market. Largely due to the way they position you on the bike, many people associate recumbent bike workouts with a more gentle, senior-friendly aerobic exercise workout. Yet, there’s more to the recumbent exercise bike story than steady-state training. In this article, we’ll lay out 3 super effective, and pretty intense, recumbent bike workouts.

We’ll also reveal half a dozen tips to getting the most out of your recumbent exercise bike workout and answer the most commonly asked recumbent bike questions.

Before we approach a recumbent exercise bike workout selection, let’s go through some of their benefits.

The Benefits Of A Recumbent Bike

Back Support

Recumbent bikes provide a lot more back support than upright exercise bikes. As well as a larger and more padded seat, there is also a back support that positions you as if you were sitting in a chair.

Handrails alongside the seat allow you to maintain a neutral back position while you are exercising. That means that you don’t have to lean forward as you do when riding an upright exercise bike. Recumbent bikes are especially good for people with chronic back pain.

Less Hip and Knee Pain

The recumbent exercise bike has you sitting in a semi-recumbent position. This relieves strain on the spine as well as the hips and knees. The lower profile of a recumbent bike also makes it more stable, especially for older people. In addition, people with impaired mobility will find it easier to get on and off the bike than when mounting an upright bike.

Quad, Glute And Hamstring Focus

The unique body position that recumbent bikes put you in works your body differently. There is more work being done by the leg muscles (glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps) when you cycle in a recumbent position. You will also be activating your core musculature and your calves.

Enhanced Ergonomics

The recumbent body position is less stressful on the lower body joints, particularly the knees and ankles. That’s because the weight bearing down on those joints is greatly reduced. The recumbent position is also better for your lower back and pelvis. Because you don’t have to stretch forward when riding, there is no lengthening of the distance between the vertebrae, so that potential problems with bones, muscles, and nerves will be eliminated.

Recumbent Bike Workouts

We will take you through some high intensity interval training workouts, amongst others.

Recumbent Bike Workouts

HIIT Recumbent Bike Workout

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, involving alternating between short bouts of very intense cardio and even shorter rest periods. The original high intensity interval training protocol involved 20-second sprints and 10 second rest periods.

In this HIIT recumbent exercise bike workout, you will follow the 20 second on / 10 second off sequence for eight rounds. Here’s how to do it:

  • Do a 5-minute warm-up. Start slow and then, from the 3-minute mark, start to increase the speed until, at the 5-minute mark, you are pedaling at your absolute maximum speed
  • Continue sprinting for exactly 20 seconds
  • Rest for exactly 10 seconds
  • Repeat for 8 rounds
  • Finish with a slow 5-minute warm-down

Interval Training Recumbent Bike Workout

This interval training workout is a variation of HIIT that involves longer sprint sessions but also longer rest periods. The workout is longer too, lasting for 20 minutes, providing an effective fat-burning cardio workout.

  • Do a slow to moderate 5-minute warm-up
  • Sprint for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Pedal for 120 minutes at slow speed
  • Sprint for 60 seconds
  • Pedal for 120 minutes at slow speed
  • Pedal for 180 minutes at moderate intensity
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at slow speed
  • Sprint for 60 seconds
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at slow speed
  • Sprint for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Do a slow to moderate 5-minute warm-down

Dumbbell Workout Routine

Recumbent exercise bikes can be used in conjunction with free weights to deliver an effective circuit type strength and conditioning workout. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a pair of medium weight dumbbells and place them alongside the recumbent bike
  • Get on the bike and do a five-minute slow/medium intensity warm-up
  • Grab the dumbbells do the dumbbell shoulder for 30 seconds
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Grab the dumbbells and do two-arm curls for 30 seconds
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Get off the bike and dumbbell squats for 30 seconds
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Get off the bike and do dumbbell lunges on the right leg for 30 seconds
  • Pedal for 60 seconds at full speed
  • Get off the bike and do dumbbell lunges on the left leg for 30 seconds
  • Get on the bike and do a five-minute slow/medium intensity warm-down

Getting The Most Out Of Your Recumbent Bike

In order to get the most from your vigorous indoor workout session, or a fat burning cardio workout, we have put together some guidance to make sure you capitalize on your stationary bike exercise.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Recumbent Bike

Warming Up

Warming up is probably the most neglected part of working out. Yet, taking 5 minutes to ease your way into the workout will make you far less prone to injury. The purpose of the warm-up is to raise your body temperature to its training level gradually while also lubricating and preparing your joints and muscles for the work ahead.

Begin your stationary recumbent bike exercise with a 5-minute warm-up by pedaling slowly, gradually increasing the pace so that the last couple of minutes see you working at a moderate intensity level.

Adjust The Seat

If you are exercising on a recumbent exercise bike at home, you will probably be able to set the proper seat positioning and then forget about it. If you’re in a commercial gym, however, you will need to adjust the seat every time you get on it. To adjust the seat on a recumbent exercise bike, you slide it forward or backward. It takes just moments and will allow you to move your legs through a full range of motion.

Proper Form

Maintaining proper form on a recumbent exercise bike is going to ensure that you’re getting the most benefit and not putting yourself at risk of injury. The key thing is to keep your back against the back support. There is no reason to lean forward when you are on a recumbent, so don’t do it. Be sure, too, to pedal naturally and through a full range of motion.

Holding the handles alongside the seat of your recumbent cycle will help to maintain a neutral spine position.

The Right Speed, Distance And Resistance

You need to align your speed, distance and resistance to the goal of your workout. If you are wanting to do a steady-state workout to burn calories and improve your cardio fitness, you should use a resistance that will allow you to keep going without overstressing your muscles and joints.

If you are doing a HIIT workout, you need to use a speed that will allow you to pedal at maximum speed for the duration of your sprint sessions. If the resistance is too high you will not be able to go far enough.

For best effects in terms of both weight loss, strength gain and cardiovascular improvement you should vary the type of workout you’re doing and adjust your speed, distance and resistance level.

What To Wear

When you are exercising on a recumbent exercise bike you should wear clothing that will allow you to get a full range of motion and that will not get in the way of your exercise motion. Wear a pair of sports shoes that feature a decent sole grip so that you are solidly locked into the pedals. A t-shirt and track pants or shorts are good choices. Look for clothing that is sweat, moisture and odor resistant for maximum training comfort.

You should also take a sweat towel with you to wipe those beads of sweat off your forehead and a water bottle.

Tracking Your Progress

By tracking your recumbent bike workout progress, you will be able to determine what is and what is not working for you. You will also be able to rejoice in the small, incremental improvements you are making. Make use of apps that allow you to track your progress for later analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can get a very good workout on a recumbent bike. Because you don’t have to concern yourself with the issue of balance, you can concentrate on pushing harder during the workout. You can pedal just as fast and hard as you can on an upright bike and can perform HIIT and interval workouts on recumbent bikes.

The length of time that you exercise on a recumbent bike depends on the type of workout you are doing. Generally though, you will be able to exercise longer on a recumbent than on an upright bike because of the increased seat and back comfort. You should always take 5 minutes to warm up on all workouts. Steady-state workouts can last up to 45 minutes, while interval workouts should max out at around 20 minutes.

Yes, you can lose weight on a recumbent bike. A 30-minute session on the bike will burn between 200-250 calories depending on the intensity of your workout. For the best weight loss results, you should use a variety of training programs, including HIIT and interval workouts. Combine your workouts to lose weight with a calorie-reduced diet, cutting back by about 500 calories per day.

Yes, a recumbent bike is as good as walking for cardiovascular and weight loss benefits. In fact, it may be considered better than walking because it places less stress on your joints. As well as the better ergonomic position, cycling is a closed chain exercise, where the footer does not strike the ground dozens of times per minute.

To get the most out of your recumbent bike, you should adjust the seat for the ideal positioning for your body, do some dynamic stretching before the workout and begin with a slow to moderate pace warm-up for 5 minutes. Maintain good form by keeping your back against the back support and having a neutral spine position. Use a resistance that is challenging and try different workout programs to keep your body guessing.


Doing your cardio on a recumbent bike will allow you to get in a great lower body-centric aerobic exercise workout while protecting your lower back and minimizing joint strain. You’ve now got 3 effective and intense recumbent bike workout programs that you can rotate through to keep your workouts interesting and your body guessing. Do your stationary bike cardio workout 3 times per week on alternate days for optimum results.