A recumbent bike is a great way to work some cardio exercise into your training program. It is designed with comfort in mind and allows individuals from all fitness levels to enjoy the benefit of cardio exercise. A recumbent exercise bike enables individuals who may have physical limitations or are recovering from injuries to build strength and fitness while doing low-impact exercise.
With a recumbent home exercise bike, you can get all the benefits of cardio in your own home – you can even do it while watching TV.
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What is a Recumbent Bike?
A recumbent bike is a type of bicycle. Instead of sitting upright, you recline backward slightly when using a recumbent bike. You can take recumbent bikes out on the road. You can also get stationary recumbent bikes designed especially for exercising.
On a traditional upright bike, your body makes contact with the bike in three places: the seat, the handlebars, and the foot pedals. This places a lot of strain on three main areas of your body. Your spine, back, and hips carry most of your body weight while sitting on the seat. Your knees and ankles take most of the strain from pedaling. Your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders carry the weight of your upper body as you lean over the handlebars.
The seat of a recumbent bicycle has a backrest and a larger seat (instead of a saddle) than a traditional upright bike. The backrest allows you to exercise in a reclined position and supports you while you work out. This reclining position, along with the larger seat, make exercising more comfortable. It also spreads your weight over a larger surface, which reduces the pressure on your back, spine, and hips. It completely eliminates the stress on your hands, wrists, shoulders, and arms.
Upright exercise bikes have the pedals positioned below your bum, legs, and feet. In a recumbent spin bike, the pedals are placed more towards the front, so instead of pushing down to pedal, you push them forward and down. This pedal placement allows your legs to stretch out slightly more than on a traditional stationary bike.
You can adjust the resistance of a recumbent stationary bike to suit your needs. It is usually applied to a flywheel and works similar to an upright indoor stationary exercise bike. Most recumbent exercise bikes have easy seat adjustment features along with various resistance levels to set your workout intensity. They might also include features like heart rate monitors and guided exercise programs.
What are the benefits of a recumbent bike?
Indoor exercise bikes bring your workout into your own home. A recumbent indoor bike does this along with a level of comfort that few other exercise machines offer.
It’s easy on your body.
Using a recumbent exercise bike places less strain and stress on your joints, especially your ankles, knees, hips, and back. It is especially easy on your knees. The movement with using a recumbent bike affects how your lower leg and thigh work together. The motion and position seem to place less strain on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is one of the ligaments that connect your tibia to your femur and is one of the main ligaments that keep your knee joint stabilized.
The back support on a recumbent exercise bike alleviates excess stress and pressure on your hips, back, and spine. When you use a traditional upright exercise bike, you sit upright and slightly bent over the handlebars. This works the muscles in your abdomen, shoulders, arms, and hands. Riding in this position also places more strain on those areas, along with placing more pressure on your lumbar (lower) spine.
For some people, this becomes a part of their workout routine; for others, it might make the session uncomfortable or unbearable. This is especially true for those recovering from an injury or who have a medical condition that affects their lower back.
Workouts on a recumbent bike are low-impact and place less strain on your body overall. It also eases the pressure placed on your joints. This makes it an excellent option for individuals who suffer from arthritis.
The reclining position of a recumbent bike and the larger seat make using this type of exercise bike more comfortable than a traditional upright exercise bike. It is ideal for someone who struggles with balance, recovering from an injury, or experiencing back, arm, or shoulder pain when riding an upright stationary cycle.
Because the reclining position is more comfortable, it could increase the amount of time you spend cycling. More time spent exercising means more cardio and more calories burned. It also means that you build more muscle, which increases your resting metabolic rate – which also helps with weight loss. Remember that even though using a recumbent exercise bike is more comfortable, you still need to warm-up before and cool-down after your workout.
Ideal for persons with physical limitations.
Because you are sitting within the frame of the bike and slightly closer to the ground while being supported by a backrest, you do not need to focus as much energy on staying balanced.
The reclined position back leaves your upper body free. Some people enjoy reading while working out on their recumbent exercise bike. Others combine upper body exercises like weight training for their arms while pedaling.
What muscles do a recumbent bike work?
The muscles that get the most out of a workout when you use a recumbent exercise bike are your leg muscles. While peddling, your entire lower body will get a workout. That includes your calves, thighs, and glutes. You also engage your abdominal muscles to maintain your leg positioning.
Kinds of Workouts You Can do with a Recumbent Exercise Bike
Don’t let the relaxed seating position of a recumbent exercise bike fool you. This piece of fitness equipment can still give you an effective workout. Some researchers even found that working out on a recumbent exercise bike can be as beneficial as resistance training exercises like leg presses. The main thing is that you have to put in the same effort for the same amount of time.
Workouts on a recumbent exercise bike mostly involve your leg muscles and glutes. The pedaling motion gives you a great cardio workout. It is a form of aerobic exercise, which means ‘with oxygen.’ Those exercises get your heart rate up and your blood flowing, providing your body with nutrients and oxygen. The American Heart Association recommends doing a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio five to seven times a week.
A recumbent bike works your thighs, lower legs, and glutes just like an upright exercise bike. While a recumbent bike targets the same muscles, your body position is different. That causes you to work those muscles in a different way than you do on an upright bike.
Working out on a recumbent bike targets specific muscles in your legs and glutes. It allows you to focus on the muscles in those areas. When you use an upright exercise bike, like the Peloton bike, you use the muscles in your lower back, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and hands. While this increases the workout, you might be using these muscles without realizing it. This means that you could be expending more energy than you realize and become tired quicker. Not paying attention to these muscles could also lead to either overworking or even injuring them.
When you do light weight training for your arms while using a recumbent exercise bike, it is something you engage in consciously and with awareness. You are more likely to pay attention to working on specific muscles. This can help you build strength and avoid injuries or overexertion.
The Best Brands of Recumbent Bikes
Adolph Arnold and Ignaz Schwinn founded Arnold, Schwinn & Company in 1895. The company later became the Schwinn Bicycle Company and is known today as Schwinn Fitness. In 1965 Schwinn paved the way for indoor exercising when they launched their Deluxe Exerciser exercise bike. Today Schwinn manufactures upright exercise bikes, recumbent exercise bikes, treadmills, and elliptical trainers.
Schwinn has two recumbent exercise bike models: the Schwinn 570R Recumbent Bike and the Schwinn 230i Recumbent Bike.
The Schwinn 570R Recumbent Bike offers 29 programs and levels of resistance, along with Bluetooth connectivity and their Explore the World™ app.
Price: Not available on their website.The Schwinn 230i Recumbent Bike offers you 22 preset exercise programs and 20 levels of computer-controlled resistance options.
Price: Not available on their website.
Stamina Products Inc. was founded in 1987. Since then, they have supplied the market with quality fitness products both for use at the gym and in your own home.
The Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike has a seat in the semi-reclined position to get a workout in your hips, legs, and glutes. It has the added feature of rotating handlebars to work out your arms, shoulders, and back at the same time. The Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike has eight resistance levels.
XTERRA Fitness has been supplying the fitness industry with workout equipment for three decades. Their products come with a lifetime warranty. XTERRA Fitness has five different recumbent exercise bikes.
The XTERRA Fitness SB120 Recumbent Bike has a step-through design that makes getting on and off easier. The frame has built-in transportation wheels that make it easy to move. The SB120 Recumbent Bike handles are padded, and the pedals are oversized – both to give you a more comfortable ride. There are eight levels of resistance that you can choose from.
The XTERRA Fitness SB150 Recumbent Bike also has a walk-through frame for easy access on and off the bike. It also has a small footprint, which means you don’t need a bunch of space to set it up. The SB150 has twelve preset programs along with four programs that you can customize according to your needs. It also gives you 24 levels of resistance to keep you on track with your fitness goals.
The XTERRA Fitness SB250 Recumbent Bike offers premium features like a large 5.5” console, twelve preset programs, and four customizable programs. It also offers 24 levels of resistance.
The XTERRA Fitness SB2.5 Recumbent Bike also has a walk-through design. The hand grips have integrated pulse sensors, and the oversized pedals are self-leveling. The SB2.5 Recumbent Bike has twelve preset programs, four customizable programs, and 24 levels of resistance.
The XTERRA Fitness SB500 Recumbent Bike has a large (6.5”) blue backlit LCD screen. It also has speakers and MP3 cable support. The seat bottom is molded to ensure your comfort, while the backrest is made from mesh to encourage airflow and keep you cool while working out. It has seven preset programs along with two customizable programs.
Sunny Health & Fitness has been importing and distributing health and fitness products for over a decade. They have headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and Xiamen, China.
Sunny Health & Fitness has a whopping fourteen different recumbent bike models to choose from. On the Sunny Health & Fitness website, the recumbent exercise bikes are listed as per their features and model numbers (instead of model names). Many of their models are offered at discounted rates. It is unclear how long this will be in place.
Model SF-RB4954: Evo-Fit Cardio Recumbent Bike
Model SF-RB4954 has twenty-four levels of electro-magnetic resistance and twelve programs that you can work through.
Price: $702.82 discounted to $599.00
Model SF-RB4936: Cross Trainer Magnetic Recumbent Bike with Arm Exercisers
Model SF-RB4936 has eight levels of magnetic resistance. It also has full motion arm exercisers to work upper training into your session.
Price: $548.33 discounted to $384.99
Model SF-RB 4953: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike with Silent Belt Drive, Performance Monitor, BMI Calculator
Model SF-RB 4953 has front-mounted handle grips that allow you to hold on, similar to an upright exercise bike. There are eight levels of dial-controlled magnetic resistance levels.
Price: $469.00 discounted to $369.00
Model SF-RB 4876: Magnetic Recumbent Bike with Soft Support Seat
Model SF-RB 4876 has a quiet belt drive system and eight levels of magnetic resistance.
Price: $279.00 discounted to $209.98
Model SF-RB4806: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike with Easy Adjustable Seat, Device Holder RPM, and Pulse Rate
Model SF-RB4806 features a belt-drive mechanism that can be adjusted to eight magnetic resistance levels.
Price: $359.99 discounted to $239.99
Model SF-RB4616: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike, 300LB Capacity & Easy Adjustable Seat
Model SF-RB4616 can hold up to 300 lbs, has eight magnetic resistance levels, and built-in pulse sensors on the hand grips.
Price: $269.99 discounted to $209.98
Model SF-RB4708: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike, 350LB High Weight Capacity, Arm Exercisers, Monitor, Pulse Rate
Model SF-RB4708 has arm exercisers connected to the pedals. These arm exercisers move back and forth while you pedal, giving you a full-body workout. This model can take a maximum weight of 350 lbs and has eight resistance levels.
Price: $599.99 discounted to $389.49
Model SF-RB 4631: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike, 350LB High Weight Capacity, Arm Exercisers, Monitor, Pulse Rate
Model SF-RB 4631 has handlebars that you can rotate or ‘pedal’ while working out your legs. It can handle a maximum weight of 350 lbs and has eight resistance levels to incorporate into your training program.
Price: $569.99 discounted to $389.98
Model SF-RB4905: Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike
Model SF-RB4905 has handlebars beside the seat as well as mounted on the front. It has eight resistance levels.
Price: $299.00 discounted to $274.23
Model SF-RB4850: Stationary Recumbent Bike with Programmable Display, 16 Level Magnetic Resistance & iPad/Device Holder
Model SF-RB4850 has a 300 lbs user weight capacity and sixteen levels of automatic magnetic tension. These can be controlled via the console. It also has twelve preset workouts.
Model SF-RB4958: Endurance Zone Training Recumbent Bike
Model SF-RB4958 has eight levels of magnetic resistance and a 265 lbs maximum user weight limit.
Model SF-RB4703: Magnetic Recumbent Desk Exercise Bike 350LB High Weight Capacity, Monitor
Model SF-RB4703 has a workstation incorporated in its design. The work tray is 15 x 22” and fully adjustable. It also has eight resistance levels.
Model P8400: Magnetic Recumbent Bike Exercise Bike, 220LB Capacity, Monitor, Pulse Rate Monitoring
Model P8400 is pink and white. It features eight levels of resistance.
Price: $ 249.99
Model SF-RB4880: Recumbent Bike Exercise Bike, Self-powered Cycling for USB Charging Function
Model SF-RB4880 has ergonomic handlebars mounted next to the console along with seat-level grips. This model is powered by pedaling and thus does not require a power supply. It has twenty-four levels of magnetic tension that can be controlled with a dial.
Price: $969.99 discounted to $699.99
Recumbent bikes are all about rider comfort. They give you an excellent cardio workout and can easily be combined with lightweight training if you want to work out your arms at the same time. Because of the reclining position, a recumbent bike is perfect for persons from all fitness levels. The best part is that you can do your workout at home, reading a book or watching TV.