When it comes to stationary style exercise bikes, not all are created equal. At first glance, recumbent bikes might look like an easier workout due to their recliner like qualities, but given you know how to use them, you’re going to feel the burn. Studies have found that these bikes have significant health benefits which might be why you’re considering purchasing one. If this is the case, and you’re curious about how this style bike can support your fitness needs, you’ve come to the right place. We have broken down how recumbent bikes not only support a healthy lifestyle but have a number of great benefits. These benefits range from the user experience to the actual workout these machines provide, so let’s get into it.
YOUR FITNESS LEVEL
A recumbent bike can truly be used by any fitness level. Those who are just starting out on their fitness journey may feel intimidated by all of the equipment and machines on the market. Some people might feel uncomfortable teeter-tottering on equipment while others may have injuries that prevent them from using certain machines.
The recumbent bike is designed to challenge both fitness beginners and veterans giving the user total control over their workout experience. Many bikes have various program options to keep riders engaged and challenged without placing too much emphasis on how well the rider uses the machine. These bikes are meant to take the operational aspect off the table so the rider can concentrate on the actual workout along with personal performance.
This kind of bike is a great workout, plain and simple. It provides a maximin cardiovascular and conditioning option which will leave the rider feeling accomplished. This is an important benefit in choosing fitness equipment. Fitness machines should always support the user’s sense of confidence, not detract from it because they are unsure on how to operate it.
You may have heard a fitness professional at some point say that you aren’t supposed to be “comfortable” on a piece of cardio equipment. The myth being, if you are comfortable, you’re not working hard enough. This just isn’t true. Recumbent bikes may appear to offer the user a laid back cardio session, but they are anything but.
The rider will have to take some personal accountability to ensure they are getting a good workout, but this is the case for all fitness machines and equipment. These bikes have a wide saddle seat and feature back support making this bike optimal in the safety category. If you have any kind of mobility challenges, this bike has a low entry and handles positioned to offer a natural placement on either side of the saddle. This is a nice feature if you struggle with any numbness in your hands or feet on an upright style bike.
STRENGTH TRAINING OPTION
Recumbent bikes are typically seen as a piece of cardiovascular equipment that raises your heart rate so you can lose weight. What you might not think about with these machines is how effective they are for strength training. When a rider uses the resistance functions of these machines, it results in an increase in lower body strength.
Additionally, this machine works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Lower ab engagement happens naturally as the rider pedals the machine with their legs. The upper abs can be engaged more by simply removing the hands from the handles on either side of the saddle which activates the core muscles. By doing this, the cyclist’s body is forced to contract the core in order to counterbalance the peddling.
The recumbent bike has an added benefit of working the largest muscle groups which promote weight loss. The best cardio workouts are those that offer a muscle building/strengthening component. When we work our largest muscles, we burn more calories. Those large muscle groups support a healthy body mass ratio.
LESS JOINT STRESS
Some pieces of cardio style equipment can be harder on the joints of the body. The discomfort impacts the effectiveness of the workout not to mention the duration and desire to actually participate in a cardiovascular exercise.
Some of the largest joints, being the hips and knees, are the hardest hit when performing a cardio-style exercise. The impact can cause plenty of wear on the cartilage breaking down the very joints necessary to move the body. Recumbent bikes eliminate this breakdown by offering the cyclist a no impact workout. Joints are protected and often times strengthened since this bike works both large muscles groups and smaller stabilizer muscles. These smaller muscle groups protect the body’s fine fiber tissues surrounding joints and combat future damage that can be done during cardiovascular style workouts.
PUTING THESE BENEFITS TO WORK
Most recumbent bikes have various workout options built right in. It’s almost like having your own personal coach standing there and directing you to your best workout. When choosing a biking program, look for those that align closest to your overall goal.
- Are you wanting to lose weight
- Are you seeking to gain mobility
- Do you need to get a better flow of oxygen to your heart
- Are you trying to gain strength in your lower body
There are many fitness programs built into recumbent bikes to help any one of these fitness goals. You simply choose an option and get moving. Many people who use these bikes regularly will just hop on the bike and peddle while they stare off to the closest TV and “put in their time.” If you want to have a better experience on a recumbent bike, create a goal calendar to track what you’ve accomplished and what you’re working on. This does two things: 1. Tracking these past workouts gives you a sense of accomplishment and 2. Will show you how you’ve improved or would like to. When you turn your workouts into a “game” you are more likely to keep working out.
HOW THE RECUMBENT BIKE STACKS UP WITH OTHERS
There are benefits of recumbent bikes in comparison to other types of stationary bikes on the market. Just because they are typically used by those who are challenged in mobility doesn’t mean they aren’t designed with a good workout in mind.
These bikes are ergonomically superior because of their easy “on and off” design. Once on the bike, your center of gravity is low and stable, making it a safer style workout. This also allows the cyclist to concentrate on their ride rather than balancing due to a lack of back support. Upright bikes tend to require the rider to constantly adjust their balance and positioning to ensure they stay on the machine.
One of the largest reasons people are drawn to these bikes is the comfort and how that impacts the body. The saddle position eliminates upright bike drawbacks like sore backsides, aches in the legs and low back areas. Upright bike riders regularly complain of neck pain, something that doesn’t seem to impact recumbent riders in the least. The lack of fewer aches and pains contribute to less fatigue overall making the workout optimal for longevity.
LETS TALK MUSCLES
You already know that recumbent bikes offer a great strength training option for your major muscle groups like your legs and abs. But what muscles are used on this machine and how a does this bike use them?
- Your Quadriceps. Your Quad muscles (there are four of them all together) work when you are pressing the peddle in the downward sweeping motion.
- Your Hamstrings. The muscle found in the back of your legs that help you bring the pedal back up in a sweeping motion.
- Your Calf Muscles. These muscle help support the actions of both quad and hamstring muscles and act as levers to help you execute the peddling motion.
- Your Shin Muscles. These are the muscles that run across the top of your shin bone and work opposite of your calves.
- Your Glutes. Yes, you might be sitting on them but this type of machine truly maximizes your glute muscles even better than an upright bike.
- Your Abdominals. We mentioned these briefly before but core strength is crucial to overall health. These muscles are the ones that protect your spine and the fragile organs that your body depends on to function.
We’ve made mention of how well this bike serves those who have injuries or mobility issues. Seniors, for instance, tend to use this bike often as it’s a great way for this population to practice cardiovascular health. Seniors can exercise on recumbent bikes without the fear of falling or balancing on tricky machines. Those who face injuries find this bike a great fitness option as well. Recumbent bikes have proven to rehabilitate those who have fallen victim to some sort of accident or may be dealing with some sort of disability. This is why the recumbent bike is an ideal choice for nearly everyone.