An exercise or stationary bike is one of those workout tools that are great for almost everybody. Working out on an exercise bike lets you do a heart-pumping workout without demanding too much of your knees and joints.
Exercise bikes also take up less space than treadmills, so if you are looking to get some cardio in but hate going to the gym, you can pedal your way into excellent health and a great body from the comfort of your living room while watching your favorite TV show.
The two main types of exercise bikes are upright and recumbent. The principle of both is the same; to mimic the movements you would do on a moveable bicycle. When it comes to choosing between the two, it all comes down to personal preference and a few other factors, and on this guide, we will help you understand what a recumbent bike is so you can figure out if a recumbent bike is the right type of exercise bike for your needs.
Pedaling a recumbent bike is similar to a regular bicycle or upright exercise bike, but it is set up a little differently. In an upright bike, the seat is usually placed high up, as it would be on a regular bicycle, and it has a handlebar right in front of you. A recumbent bike’s seat is parallel or a little bit higher than its pedals, so you seat with your legs extended in front of you as you pedal.
Using a recumbent bike, you will burn the same amount of calories that you would with an upright bike, the only difference is that due to its seat arrangement, you will experience less back strain and will be more comfortable during your workout.
Recumbent bikes are ideal for individuals with mobility or balance problems, including older adults because they are much easier to get on and off.
You can virtually target most –if not all- major muscles with a recumbent bike if you add upper body weights to your workout. Some of the muscles that a recumbent bike will directly put to use include the hamstrings, abs, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, tibialis anterior, calves, and hip muscles.
Is It A Good Choice For Me?
If you have lower back problems, it is likely that you can greatly benefit from a recumbent bike because of its backrest and full seat. When you are riding an upright exercise bike, you need to move your body forward in order to grab the handles, but this can be a painful position for people with back and hamstring issues. On the other hand, when you are seated on a recumbent bike, you can fully recline against the seat, making you less likely to slouch.
Are you familiar with that buttock pain that you get the day after riding a bike? It’s not nice at all, but the good news is that recumbent bikes have much bigger seats that allow you to sit comfortably during your workout, without suffering the dreaded day-after butt pain.
Another great benefit of a recumbent bike is that your hands are totally free because you don’t need to grab onto the handles if you don’t want to. Most recumbent bikes have handles on either side of the seat that you can grab onto if you’d like, but you won’t lose your balance if you don’t. Having your hands free throughout your workout gives you the freedom to work, read a book, or text without worrying about losing your balance. Another benefit of having your hands free is that you can actually have a more complete workout by adding an upper body weight routine while you pedal.
Recumbent bikes are also a great option if you are just getting into biking or exercise because they are a lot safer than upright bikes. Regardless of the intensity of your workout or the amount of resistance you choose, you will never need to stand up from your seat, making you less likely to lose your balance and fall to the ground.
Just as they are safe, recumbent bikes are also suitable for all fitness levels; upright exercise bikes can feel a little intimidating if you are just starting to work out, mostly because if you don’t keep a good posture, you can end up hurting yourself. However, you don’t need to worry about keeping your spine straight on recumbent bikes if you completely sit back on the backrest, which is one less thing to worry about when you are embarking on a fitness journey. On the other hand, for those who are more experienced or have higher fitness levels, recumbent bikes offer you the same resistance and difficulty levels as upright bikes.
One of the downsides of recumbent bikes is that they take a little more space than upright bikes, so consider the size and dimension of your room before committing to one.
Tips For Using A Recumbent Bike
Using a recumbent bike is easy and most people quickly find a setting that is comfortable yet challenging enough for them to get their heart rate up. Whenever you are riding a recumbent bike always remember to do full range motions and dynamic stretches; don’t simply pedal as fast as you can, but try to extend your legs as deep as you can safely do so without hurting yourself or feeling any pain.
Also, you should always take a few minutes to warm up before engaging in vigorous exercise; this will prepare your body for the workout, putting less stress on your heart and lungs.
Another thing to keep in mind before using your exercise bike is proper seat adjustment; sitting too close or too far away from the pedals can cause a lot of unnecessary strain on your lower back, so if you are using the bike for the first time give it a try in a few different distances.
The best way to know if you are sitting correctly on your recumbent bike is to watch your knees. They should have a slightly bent when you place your feet in the pedals, but not so bent that they are close to your chest.
If you are trying to lose weight consider doing an interval routine; interval training increases the number of calories you burn during a workout which is exactly what you need when you are trying to shed some extra pounds. To do an interval routine on your recumbent bike alternate the speed, intensity or both every few minutes or seconds.
Most recumbent bikes have screens that let you select different types of workout, including interval training. Using a pre-established workout routine is great for when you are new to biking, or to keep your workouts varied and interesting.
As you can see, there are tons of benefits of working out with a recumbent bike, especially if you are new to biking, have mobility problems or lower back issues but want to burn the same amount of calories that you would in other exercise bikes. Working out on a recumbent bike is also safer than upright exercise bikes because their bigger seat and lower setups let you get on and off the bike easier. If you are interested in buying a recumbent exercise bike, you may be interested in reading our results from testing the best exercise bikes.