What Is A Recumbent Bike?
When it comes to indoor cycling bikes, most people will really only think of two. The traditional upright stationary bikes and the recumbent bikes. The debate of which is better is ongoing, it will often come down to personal preference. But in most cases, a lot of people does not understand the main recumbent bike benefits.
A recumbent bike places the user in a seated reclined position. With the bike pedals located in front of the rider and a wider base, it offers much greater support when riding. Your joints won’t be under as much stress as other exercise equipment, such as a treadmill for example.
Most recumbent bikes will have handles at the front and down by your sides for comfort, however, most people don’t see the need to use them. This allows you to have a hands free workout if you choose. Grab some light weights and work out the upper body or read a book while working out.
In this article, I will cover 5 benefits of using recumbent bikes, and why you should consider them for your next workout.
Are Recumbent Bikes for Everyone?
Most people buying home gym fitness equipment (at least those who know what one is) think of recumbent exercise bikes as being for the elderly or those with serious lower back issues while stationary bikes are for everyone else. The truth is that, while they do cater magnificently for those two fitness equipment market segments, recumbents are also an effective tool for the able bodied.
In fact, recumbent exercise bikes are extremely popular amongst all home gym market segments, with many people rightly viewing them as a good way to ease into the cardio home exercise option. They are especially popular with the elderly and those who have quite a lot of weight to lose.
Recumbent exercise bikes sit you much lower to the ground, with the pedals out in front of you rather than directly below you. This positioning is actually more biomechanically sound than the traditional cycling position, placing less stress on your joints (particularly the knees). Recumbent bikes feature a larger seat than an upright or a spin bike. They also add a back support for added comfort and spinal protection.
The semi-circling position that your feet go through when pedaling on a recumbent is more natural and less jarring than the upright elliptical pattern of upright bikes. In the recumbent position, the knee and hip are not having to flex as much as when you use an upright bike. The lower height at which you are exercising is also safer. It allows you to remain in a naturally seated position, avoiding the tendency to lean in towards the handlebars, or even to stand on the pedals, both of which place an inordinate amount of pressure on the erector spinae muscles of the lower back.
While all types of indoor cycling will help to build the muscles of your legs, the unique angling of recumbent cycling allows you to target certain areas more specifically. These include the glutes, hamstrings and inner quads, as well as the calves. When you get off the recumbent for the first few times you will feel these muscles more than if you had just spent your time on an upright bike. That’s a good thing when you consider that the glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs are chronically under trained in most people.
5 Benefits Of Using A Recumbent Bike
Recumbent bikes provide many benefits to the user. One of those benefits allows the user to work out for longer while putting less stress on their joints. Let’s take a look below at 5 benefits of using a recumbent bike.
It’s A Great Cardio Workout
Whether you’re just starting out your fitness journey or you’re a cycling veteran looking to switch up your program, the recumbent bike is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise to achieve your fitness goals. It helps to improve your blood pressure and heart rate when done regularly. The bikes have built-in programs that you can follow, including uphill marathons.
Another huge benefit of recumbent bikes vs upright bikes is the ability to have a longer workout. This is partly because recumbent bikes are far easier to use, this doesn’t mean they aren’t as effective though. Because you can work out for longer you’ll be able to maintain the optimum heart rate for burning fat and drastically increase weight loss. So you can say the bike burns more calories.
The seat is lower to the ground, meaning getting in and out of the bike is easy. It’s suitable for people of any age, those carrying injuries and potentially suitable for obese or disabled people. Athletes alike will enjoy using these bikes for recovery from niggling injuries, or a change of pace from their regular training.
Working out in comfort is another big advantage of the recumbent bikes. Similar to elliptical trainers they provide a great workout with very little impact on the joints or body. Actually, the whole reason recumbent bikes exist is to create a more ergonomic and comfortable exercise machine.
If you suffer from back pain the recumbent bike can be a great alternative to a regular stand up bike or treadmill. The large reclined seat with its supportive backrest will take the back strain out of the equation. With its wide seat, you won’t have to worry about the dreaded sore butt after a good day’s ride, it truly is a comfortable work out machine.
Another unique feature of the recumbent bike is its ability to have a hand- free workout. The bike does offer handles towards the front and by your sides but most users won’t need to use them. This allows your hands to be free for other tasks such as reading a book, checking emails on your phone or if you’re game enough pick up some light dumbells and begin an upper body workout.
The comfort of a recumbent bike is a big advantage over the alternatives. It encourages beginners or the elderly to get into the biking scene. No matter the incline or resistance settings you’ll never need to stand, making it a safe option also. More on safety below.
Safety is not often thought of when working out but it is worth mentioning here. Because not all find it easy to get up on an upright exercise bike and then having to balance whilst riding they would find the recumbent bike more suitable.
The seat is lower to the ground meaning you can literally slide in and out of the machine. As well as that its usability and ease on the back makes it less likely to cause injury. Because of the need to lean forward on other bikes, users often complain about back pain and often overextend or strain their back. This is taken out of the equation on the recumbent bike because of its seated position.
While slouching in on the recumbent bike is almost eliminated it is important to pay attention to your posture when using the bike. Be sure to set the distance to the pedals correctly, it’s suggested you aim for a slight bend in the knees when fully extended.
Target More Muscles
The stationary recumbent bike isn’t just a cardio machine. It has the ability to target your entire lower body. Its slightly different pedal position will cause you to use muscles not used in a traditional stand-up exercise bike. Most users will note that the hamstrings are used a lot more than expected, the quads, glutes, and calves all get a workout.
As mentioned previously, you have the ability to incorporate an upper body workout if you choose, grabbing a set of light dumbells to work the arms and shoulders is a fantastic way to get a full body workout in.
Mix it up if you’re able to. By that I mean, on days when it’s less than ideal to go for an outdoor ride, go and hit the recumbent bike and target muscles, including your largest muscle, you might not be used to targeting. The benefits might surprise you.
It’s Suitable For Any Fitness Level & Age
That’s right, whether you’re an expert or beginner the recumbent bike is suitable for any skill level. Given how easy they are to use and their low impact approach to exercise they make a great stepping stone for the younger generation looking to get into fitness or bike riding. On the flip side, they’re great for an aging citizen looking to improve mobility and strength.
Many bikes offer different programs that you can follow, of course, it depends on the make and model of the bike. For example, the Schwinn 230 will come with 20 different resistance settings and 22 workout programs, including hill marathons for the advanced and of course beginner workouts. This is a unique benefit of using a recumbent bike vs a traditional stand-up bike.
Most recumbent bikes will be suitable for all ages, height, and weight. You’ll find most recumbent bikes can hold up to 300 pounds or more and because they have a low entry point, they really do eliminate most of the excuses.
Get The Most Out Of The Stationary Recumbent Bike
As with any exercise, whether it be a squat or bicep curl there is a certain technique or form involved. This runs true with the recumbent bike. A common mistake seen in the gym or at home is people will simply hop in the seat and start pedaling right away.
When using the bike, take your time getting into a comfortable position, adjust the seat accordingly and make sure the pedals are the correct distance away. Remember your knees should have a slight bend on full extension. This will ensure a full range of motion throughout the exercise and give you maximum benefits.
If weight loss is your goal consider some of the HIIT programs available with the exercise machine, these programs will increase your heart rate, burning fat and maximum calories in the shortest amount of time.
What to Look for When Buying a Recumbent Bike
There are more than two hundred and fifty brands of home gym recumbent bike on the market today. Unless you know what to look for, you can easily get overwhelmed. Here are the key things to look out for:
- Sturdy pedals with adjustable straps.
- The heavier the flywheel, the better.
- Look for a bike that provides you with 8 levels of adjustable resistance.
- Make sure that the seat is well padded wand that there is plenty of back support. Your seat should also be contoured ergonomically to provide ideal spinal positioning. You should also be able to adjust the back support both horizontally and vertically.
- The monitor display unit should provide you with a large enough readout that you can easily read it from your reclined seating position. The diagnostics should include your exercise time, calories burned, speed, and distance.
You may also like: Folding Treadmill Machine Review
By now it might be clear why the recumbent bike is becoming a very popular piece of equipment. With its ability to provide a very good workout while being incredibly comfortable, it’s really hard to fault them.
Recumbent bikes were invented out of necessity for people looking to seek more comfort when riding. They enabled people with back and mobility issues to get on a bike and continue exercising. In fact, they are widely used by people recovering from injuries related to typical biking use, specifically butt and lower back pain.
Perhaps going to the gym isn’t your thing, if not you can always look into purchasing this piece of equipment for your home. Depending on your budget and lifestyle they can make a great addition to any household, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a exercise machine. For those with limited space you can go for a folding exercise bike as your cardio equipment for home fitness.
With so many benefits there really is no excuse to not give them a go!