Why Recumbent Bikes?
It is quite obvious that a recumbent is the most comfortable type of bike out there. You get to relax in a reclined position while the legs do all the work. No more pain or numbness in weird places, just a quick and effective cardio workout.
A standard upright bike, while effective in its own way, is not designed with the intent of taking full advantage of the human anatomy. This is especially true for people with limited mobility and for those that have back/wrist pain.
Our bodies are built for our head to drop, not to pull the head back as you would on an upright bike. This means that chances of both back and neck pain are greatly reduced.
While cycling is without question the ultimate form of cardio, recumbent bikes can take it to the next level. One of the ways they can help do this is due to the focus on the actual movements of cycling i.e. the spinning of the legs. They do so by taking everything else out of the equation. Therefore, the back is well supported, the neck is in a relaxed position and the spine is neutral. This allows even unfit or injured individuals to maintain and gain fitness and makes the great cardio benefits more accessible to a wide range of people.
While most fitness equipment is recommended by gym instructors and other fitness experts, best recumbent bike are usually recommended by doctors. This is particularly true for people dealing with injuries, are a risk of injury or currently unfit to engage in conventional exercise.
By the same measure, it can also be a great tool for athletes recovering from an injury. A recumbent can prevent them from losing too much fitness as they recover.
Cardiovascular exercise offers many benefits but they cannot be attained by people that are unable to engage in them for any number of reasons. Chronic pain, arthritis, and miscellaneous joint conditions are usually not a hindrance for riding recumbents. Even patients that have been bed-ridden and completely immobile for extended periods of time are usually able to work with a recumbent bike. It can indeed, in many cases be easier than even walking! All of the benefits that can really help the injured or elderly get in some exercise can also benefit anyone looking to improve their fitness as long as they have a functioning pair of legs.
Who Should Buy Recumbent Bike?
1. People Looking For Low Impact Cross-Training
If you want to do cross-training with the lowest level of impact, just in case you have recently been recovering from an injury, then go for a recumbent bike. You can make good use of all the preset workout programs to customize the speed level and level of resistance as per your own convenience. The way you sit on the recumbent bike also has an impact on the glutes and will further improve your posture in the long run.
2. People Who Want To Lose Weight
Recumbent bikes will not give you the same level of intensity as working out with an indoor cycle or an upright bike, but what you can definitely achieve from it is burning a lot of calories and building up on your cardio. If your main goal is to increase your level of endurance in cardio and lose weight, a stationary recumbent bike is ideal for you. If you want to achieve optimal results from your recumbent bike in terms of weight loss, you need to ensure two things: choosing the right level of intensity and power your workouts properly.
A recumbent bike is an efficient aerobic exercise that assists in calorie burning. Set your reclining bike course that includes several hills for calories to be burned during workouts. Faster pedals or increased strength also consume more calories. Your calorie burn depends on your weight, too. If a person of 120 pounds cycles for 30 minutes, 190 calories will be burned whereas for a person of 180 pounds 286 calories would be burned. Set your mind on aerobic activity for 30 to 60 minutes five days a week. For weight loss, it may take up to 60 minutes of daily aerobics.
3. People Who Want To Strengthen Their Abs
Working out on a recumbent bike does not directly affect your abdominal muscles or strengthen it but it is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise that helps you burn calories. In doing that you reduce fats from your body which will also include your midriff. This will help you make your abs more visible that will in the long run also strengthen them.
4. People Who Want To Work On Their Lower Abdominal Muscles
When you bring the seat closer to the pedals your legs will contribute less to pedaling as compared to your lower abdominal muscles. This will force you to engage with your thighs, glutes and calf muscles. Further, this will also help you to strengthen your stomach muscles.
If the seat is moved closer to the pedals, it decreases your legs ‘ energy, causing you to use your bottom abdominal muscles to pedal. Thighs, gluten, and calves muscles will also be worked. You can do other abdomen strengthening exercises to tone your stomach muscles, like crunches on a stability ball.
5. People Looking For Cardiovascular Exercises
One of the major benefits of working out on a recumbent bike is cardiovascular exercise. If you do regular cardio on a recumbent bike it will increase the functioning of your heart and lungs and lessen the chances of blood pressure or any kind of lung disorders.
6. People Who Want To Strengthen Their Leg Muscles
Working out on a recumbent bike strengthens the leg muscles in your body including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glute muscles. A 30 minutes daily workout session on your recumbent bike will help you tone down your calf muscles and strengthen your legs, further helping you to develop bulging glute muscles and quadriceps.
How to Set a Recumbent Bike?
Cycling, in general, is a low-impact exercise and recumbent bikes are among the most forgiving of fitness machines. There is, however, a certain amount of care required when setting them up for the first time. Once you set the bike up, it’s likely like you’d want to leave it that way and so it’s important to get this right once and for all. Take a look at the following illustration:
The above picture outlines the correct knee angle/position for a recumbent versus an upright bike. The knees are one of the most technical parts of the human body and should, therefore, be treated with care.
Recommendations on how it is used
Take five minutes before you use the reclining bike to stretch your lower body. Slide the seat before commencing up to the point that your leg is on the backside of the crank with a slight bend. Please warm your muscles lightly, and increase the temperature of your core body. Keep the posture straight; don’t lean forward. Before starting any new exercise program consult a doctor.
An easier way to go about this is to raise the seat height until your knees are almost fully extended at the point the pedal is furthest from you. Not only will this ensure that you recruit all of your leg muscles into the movement, but it will also make sure your knees stay nice and protected during exercise.
The best way to tone your legs is to change the training routine. You burn calories that slim your legs when you cycle at comfortable strength and constantly for at least 20 to 30 minutes. An uptick in resistance uses more muscles than endurance so that your legs are toned. Set your bike to a high strength that is hard to pedal at 90 turns per minute. Use both kinds of workouts to achieve overall leg toning benefits.
A relaxing bike offers a more convenient exercise, especially when you have low back pain or have excess weight. Cycling on a recumbent means a non-weight, impact-free exercise that improves the cardiovascular system and tones your legs. The bikes have bigger seats and place your feet on an upright bike instead of on a bottom.
Now, you might feel that you have to change the seat position to target different muscle groups but that’s actually not true. Keep the bike seat in a place that is optimal for your knees. To work for different muscle groups, play with the resistance settings. All good recumbent bikes come with adjustable resistance. Simply raise the resistance to shift the workout to your glutes and hamstrings. If you do high-RPM speed work with the pedals, that’s going to engage more of the quadriceps into the movement. Therefore:
More resistance = Glutes, hamstrings
Less resistance, fast pedaling = quads
Adding some weighted squats and lunges is a great way to complement your bike workouts. Do them before or after your session as per your preference. Since we’ve already mentioned muscle recruitment here, let’s smoothly move on to the next topic:
Muscle Group That’s Targeted by Recumbent Bike
As illustrated above, the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves are the main muscle groups used while cycling. Of these, the quadriceps are arguably the most powerful. The glutes provide a lot of support to the movement considering that it is such a large muscle group. The hamstrings help in bringing the pedal back at the end of the pedal stroke and the calves add a bit of kick to the movement while also functioning as a pump in the important task of sending used up blood back to the heart for re-oxygenation.
There are however a few more muscles that are or at least can be engaged in order to make your workouts more effective. While cycling, it is possible for us to engage our core to assist the movement and also to stabilize the body. This can be done by simply pulling the abdominal muscles in, drawing the muscles of the waist to assist your back and keep you in place can be a great way to exercise your core and abs while getting a great cardio workout.
Common Questions About Recumbent Bikes
1. Are recumbent bikes comfortable to use?
Yes, recumbent bikes are comfortable to use. You will experience no added pressure on your wrists, seat, neck or shoulders. Your back will be supported by the ergonomically comfortable seat. However, make sure to check on the style of the seat and the size when before you plan to buy one.
Biking is a low-impact exercise with little risk of injury particularly in comparison to sports that are more challenging. Recumbent bikes actually give many benefits compared with traditional bikes. The reclining bike burns calories and helps support the back and shoulders by working the leg muscle. The Bicycle Life states that recumbent motorcycles offer greater safety and less body damage, and more comfort than traditional motorcycles. The recompense for these benefits, however, can be knee stress.
2. Are recumbent bikes safe?
Your feet will be the most used when working out on a recumbent bike. The seats are mostly positioned in a way that they are higher than most other bikes, even higher than an upright bike for visibility, center gravity, stability and safety purpose.
3. What is the purpose of a flywheel in a recumbent bike?
The magnetic resistance created in a recumbent bike is mostly applied to the flywheel that helps to create momentum. This gives you the feel of an actual outdoor cycle! The pace of your pedaling, whether it is faster or slower, has direct impact on your lower body muscles such as the calves, thighs, and glutes.
4. What all is displayed on the screen of a recumbent bike?
Most recumbent bikes come with a display screen that provides you with all the vital information of your workout session along with some entertainment. Here are a couple of the basics you can find in a good recumbent bike:
- Resolution (LED/LCD): The resolution will either be LCD or LED similar to the kinds used in desktops or TVs. LED display will, however, have a better resolution than an LCD display screen.
- Heart Rate Monitor: Most of the top and mid-range models gives the option to track your heart rate that is displayed on the screen. You have to hold the grip in the handlebars to read your heart rate sensors. Some of the recumbent bikes even come with a wireless chest strap that monitors the user’s heart rate and displays it on the screen.
- Entertainment: Apart from the basics, you can even get the option of in-built speakers or watch your favorite shows on it or listen to music.
5. Can you perform HIIT workouts on a recumbent bike?
Of course, you can! Although you cannot cycle in a standing position as you could with a spin bike you can do high-intensity workouts from a seated position with regular intervals.
6. What are the options of resistance to recumbent bikes?
Here are the three common types of resistance on a recumbent bike:
- Direct contact resistance: Friction through this kind of resistance uses brake pads to slow the flywheel. This is the most popular of the three as it gives the user to choose from different resistance levels, although it is a lot noisier.
- Magnetic resistance: Although this kind of resistance extra maintenance because the friction level on the flywheels is low. But they are gradually gaining popularity as they are the quietest recumbent bike in the market as of now as they make use of electromagnetic induction.
- Fan-based resistance: In these kinds of recumbent bikes, resistance is created through a fan and not the flywheel. A fan is connected to the pedals with a belt and if the user wants to increase the level of resistance, they have to pedal faster.
7. Do recumbent bikes come with a warranty?
All recumbent bikes come with a warranty. Most of the warranties are usually three types: parts warranty, frame warranty and lifetime warranty. The length of the warranty will depend on the model you select:
- Parts warranty: This warranty is usually short length and could be anywhere between 60-90 days to a year or two.
- Frame warranty: The length of warranty for this will be anywhere between 2 years to a lifetime even.
- Lifetime warranty: It is rare to come across a recumbent bike that will give lifetime warranty for all the parts. The most common of it are the frames and brake.
8. What could be medical reasons why people prefer recumbent bikes?
Some of the most common medical reasons why people switch to recumbents are: shoulder and/or back pain, neck pain or injury, impotence in males, or injury in the hands or wrist.
When it’s more comfortable for your body, pick a good recumbent bike over certain other types of cardio machines. The use of the reclining bike at a moderate rate combusts more calories than walking at a rate of 3 mi/h. The elliptical trainer and the relaxing bike mainly work the bottom of the body, having less impact than a treadmill. Some elliptic trainers, however, have handles which work in the upper body too.
Best Recumbent Bike Brands
NordicTrack Recumbent BikeNordicTrack was founded in 1975 and since then has been a renowned name in the fitness equipment industry. Most of its component parts are manufactured from China. Nordic has established itself as a brand in three segments of bikes: upright bikes, recumbent bikes and indoor cycle bikes. The recumbent bikes from NordicTrack are cost effective and comes with loaded characters such as back support, sleek design and larger seats for you to have a comfortable position when you are exercising.
You are assured of a good number of preset workout programs for your workout and programs for entertainment purpose. Compared to other brands, Nordic recumbent bikes come with lightweight flywheels. They are ideal for trainers who are looking to use it for the purpose of losing weight or strengthening the muscles and abs. If you are looking for road bike kind of sensation, then this brand is not for you. One of the best recumbent bike in the market from NordicTrack is the Commercial VR25 Elite which comes with a flywheel weighing 25 pounds and is also enabled with a web-driven touchscreen.
Most of the recumbent bikes from Nordic will come with a minimum of 3 years of warranty to up to a lifetime.
Lifespan is a leader in fitness equipment industry that was founded in 2001. They are known to manufacture high quality treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes. If you research for their customer service reviews online, you will realise the experience is mostly excellent on the user’s end. There are two basic types of exercise bikes from Lifespan: residential and commercial bikes. It specialises in three styles of exercise bikes: upright bikes which are mostly for regular use, recumbent bikes which are for general use and for rehabilitation purpose, and indoor cycle trainers which are for outdoor training and for those who look for high levels of challenges in cycling.
Most of the exercise bikes from Lifespan come with the price range of $699 to $2499 depending on the features of the model. The recumbent bikes from Lifespan have two models: R3i and R7000i, both of which comes with loaded features for a comfortable indoor cycling experience. Some of its best features are oversized seating for a comfortable exercise session, molded foam at the bottom of the seat for a relaxed posture, flexible backrest and the armrests is also molded. You will find 16 resistance levels with Lifespan recumbent bikes and a number of preset workout programs. The price range of these recumbent bikes are $1499 for R7000i and $999 for R3i.
Lifespan gives multiple warranties depending on the model you select ranging from one to two years to a lifetime warranty.
Ever you ever wondered how is it to pedal under your desk? The fitness products of Stamina comprise of portable exercise machines to fully equipped machines. Their exercise bikes and rowers are relatively low priced. Stamina is a leading name in manufacturing three types of bikes: hybrid exercise bike, recumbent bike, and upright stationary bike. Even the warranty period is relatively less for Keiser exercise bikes, the customer service has so far been respectable and positive ones.
Without trying to generalise the products, all their recumbent bikes are easy to assemble and use. They are also portable and comes with the choice of folding them for easy transport and storage. All of their recumbent bikes come with low level of intensity and is ideal for those recovering from an ankle, hand or leg injury or for physical therapy purpose. You can use them either at home or in office depending on your convenience.
Aforementioned, Stamina products come with relatively shorter warranty period but for products that are so low priced, a year’s warranty is more than sufficient.
The parent company of ProForm is ICON fitness, which also own NordicTrack. ProForm exercise bikes come with all high-end features you would want your indoor exercise bike to have, which includes: web-enabled touchscreen, internet connectivity, preset workout programs and so on. The price of their recumbent bikes are somewhere between the range of $349 to $1999.
Most of the recumbent bikes from Proform are gym quality level. You will get flywheel within the weight of 18 pounds to 20 pounds. The 740 ES Commercial which is apparently the best recumbent bike from Proform comes with effective flywheels of 20 pounds and is also enabled with a three-part crank design that gives the user a smooth ride. It also comes with web enabled touchscreen that provides as many as 34 workout apps and is enabled with iFit technology and Bluetooth connectivity and wireless heart rate monitoring.
Most of the recumbent bikes from Proform comes with a three year warranty period, inclusive of labor free service for 90 days.
Sole fitness products are known to bring a combination of affordability and comfort all in one machine. No workout can be a satisfactory one if it is not comfortable. The comfort factor in Sole upright and recumbent bikes come from their ergonomic design, easy to read console display and adjustable seating pad.
Recumbent bikes from Sole are great for a comfortable workout session, along with the fact that they come with a number of preset workout programs and Bluetooth connectivity so that you can enjoy your playlist while working out. The Sole R92 is one of the best selling recumbent allows its users to track their fitness routine and vital informations related to it on the Sole app. It is light weight, sleek in design and is easy to move and store. The flywheels are heavy yet comfortable for exercising purpose.
Most of the recumbent bikes from Sole Fitness comes with a warranty of 3-5 years on electronic parts and one-to-two years of labor warranty. Some of the high end models come with a lifetime warranty, one such example is the Sole R92 which comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame and 5 years warranty on electronics and parts.
We don’t believe in listing anything but the highest quality products in our top-lists. All of the bikes listed above can handle a user weight of 300 pounds or more and each one is the best in their class. Pick any of them with confidence and put them to good use.