Recumbent Bike Workouts

Recumbent bike workouts are an excellent choice for people seeking a low impact, high intensity exercise routine.

They can help to reduce weight, improve lower body strength, and build endurance, making them a very well rounded choice.

However, many people look down on recumbent bikes, as they aren’t as understood as treadmills, with many people viewing them as the “easy option”.

While that certainly can be the case in the wrong hands, they are incredibly effective if utilised properly.

Therein lies the problem though, as many people simply aren’t aware of what is on offer with a recumbent bike.

There are numerous different options available, with some models having pre-programmed workouts for you to follow, while others have arms to train the upper body.

Those that want to really maximise the potential of a recumbent bike need to follow structured workouts to achieve best results.

With that in mind, in today’s article we are going to look at the very best options to help people of all abilities make best use of this amazing piece of equipment.

Benefits Of A Recumbent Bike

The primary benefit of a recumbent bike is that it can provide a high intensity cardio workout with virtually zero impact.

This allows you to perform effective exercise routines, without the drawbacks associated with options such as jogging or using a treadmill.

Another benefit of a recumbent bike is the number of different purposes it can be used for.

Being able to easily switch between training methods like cross training and HIIT provides a level of variety that makes it useful for all manner of different people.

Anyone looking to lose weight can use it to burn a great number of calories and boost their metabolism, while those involved in endurance training will find they can train for longer, due to the comfortable position and not having to support their own weight.

While not as common, a recumbent bike can also be used to build muscle in the legs.

By setting it to a higher level, a recumbent bike will provide an effective resistance workout for the lower body.

The final benefits of a recumbent bike are their convenience and ease of use.

Being able to jump on and off and start your workout at the press of a button, it means a recumbent bike can be used without any real prior training or preparation, making it incredibly convenient.

Meanwhile, the comfortable seating position allows you to exercise while doing other things.

This means you can combine it with activities such as working on a laptop, ensuring you can always fit in a workout, even if you are limited on time.

Recumbent Bike Warm Up Routine

As with any exercise routine, it is important to properly warm up before you begin, in order to avoid injuring yourself.

The best option is to use dynamic stretches, as these safely and effectively warm the muscles, unlike static stretches, which can lead to injuries when performed while you are cold.

You should prioritise those that are specifically targeted at the muscles and joints you will be using on the recumbent bike, such as the ankles, knees, legs, and glutes. Back and torso stretches are also a good idea as well.

For those who plan to add upper body exercises to their workout, stretching your arms, chest, and shoulders at the same time can also be beneficial.

Aside from stretching, the recumbent bike itself can be effectively used to warm your body up, either for a session dedicated to it or another workout entirely.

Simply set the bike to its lowest resistance setting and cycle at a moderate pace for around five minutes. This will gently elevate your heart rate, while getting the blood flowing around your body, especially to the muscles in the legs.

Beginner Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout

Beginners should first take time to familiarise themselves with the recumbent bike they are using, review all of its settings and features, and make adjustments to ensure that it is comfortable and accommodates their size, while providing a suitable level of resistance.

They should then begin at a moderate speed and low resistance for around 10 to 15 minutes.

If this is too easy, start increasing the time by increments of 5 minutes until you reach 30 minutes. You are looking for a duration that is slightly challenging but not overwhelming.

Once you have increased the time to 30 minutes, you can then begin raising the speed and resistance, rather than time, to increase the challenge. If you can’t reach the target time, lower the resistance and speed again until it is still achievable.

For increases in general fitness, aim to sustain an elevated heartrate of 70-80% of your maximum throughout the workout.

On the other hand, if your aim is to lose weight, target an elevated heart rate of 60-70% of your maximum.

You should then aim to complete these workouts 3 to 5 times per week.

Example Workout 1

  • Start with a 5 minute warmup at resistance level 1 with a speed of around 60 RPM
  • Increase the resistance level to 2 for six minutes
  • Raise the resistance level to 3 for the next five minutes
  • Increase the level to 4 for the next four minutes
  • Raise it to level 5 for the next three minutes
  • Increase it again to level 6 for the next two minutes
  • Raise the level a final time to 7 for a minute
  • Drop the resistance back to one and perform a four minute cooldown
  • Your speed should remain at 60 RPM throughout

Example Workout 2

  • Begin with a low resistance and slow, steady pace, while completing a 3-4 minute warm up
  • From there, increase the resistance every 3-4 minutes but maintain the pace
  • For the final 30 seconds of each resistance level increase your pace (drop it back down when you increase the resistance)
  • If it begins to feel overwhelming reduce the resistance slightly so you can maintain the pace
  • Perform a cool down at a slow and steady pace for the final 3-4 minutes until you hit your 30 minute target

Pros

  • Great for getting new or less fit people started
  • Can be completed by people of all abilities
  • Not too strenuous but still capable of producing results

Cons

  • Can get boring after a while
  • Results can only go so far

HIIT Recumbent Bike Workout

HIIT workouts are high intensity interval training routines that aim to increase heart rate by exerting high bursts of energy for short periods of time, before dropping back to even shorter periods of a lower intensity.

They are a great option for losing weight and burning fat.

Recumbent bike HIIT workouts incorporate periods of maximum effort, either by pedalling as fast as possible or increasing the setting to high resistances, followed by periods with a reduced pace or resistance of around 50% of your maximum.

Example Workout 1

  • Begin with a five minute warmup
  • Increase to a high resistance and exert 80-90% effort for 40 seconds
  • Decrease resistance to 50% effort for 20 seconds
  • Continue this cycle for 20 minutes
  • Finish with a five minute cooldown

Example Workout 2

  • Start with a 5 minute warm-up at medium to low intensity
  • Increase the resistance level to around 85% of your maximum for the next minute, then lower it to around 50% of your maximum for the following 30 seconds
  • Complete the above cycle for 15 minutes (until the 25 minute mark of your workout)
  • Perform a cool down at a low intensity for the final five minutes
  • Aim to maintain an RPM of around 75 throughout the bulk of the session, with an RPM of around 50 in the warmup and cool down

Pros

  • Great for burning fat
  • Provides an incredibly intense workout
  • Capable of producing impressive results in a short space of time

Cons

  • Will be too intense for most beginners
  • May be hard to complete if you are having an “off” day

Recumbent Exercise Bike With Arm Workout

Including upper body workouts during recumbent bike routines is a good way to increase strength and endurance throughout your body, as opposed to just in the legs.

Some recumbent bikes may have arm attachments, otherwise you can simply do arm movements or include dumbbell exercises.

If opting for dumbbells, use light weights between 5 and 12 pounds each to start and increase the weight gradually over time.

You can incorporate upper body exercises with any recumbent bike routine or follow programs specifically designed to include dumbbells and upper body movements.

Some of the most common exercises that you can incorporate into your already existing recumbent bike routine include bicep curls, cross body punches, front raises, lateral raises, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, and upright rows.

If you choose to add upper body movements to your existing routine, consider adding the exercise to the high effort portions of the routine, rather than the segments with reduced effort.

Example Workout 1

  • Complete a five minute warmup at low intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing bicep curls
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing cross body punches
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing front raises
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing lateral raises
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing shoulder presses
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing tricep extensions
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Two minutes at high intensity while performing upright rows
  • One minute at medium intensity
  • Perform a four minute cool down at low intensity

Example Workout 2

  • Warm up at medium intensity for five minutes
  • Cycle at high intensity for 2 minutes while performing your chosen exercise
  • Cycle for low intensity for 2 minutes
  • Complete the two steps above a further four times
  • Cycle at medium intensity for 2 and ½ minutes
  • Cycle at low intensity for 2 and ½ minutes

Pros

  • Works the entire body
  • Incredibly intense workout capable of burning fat and building muscle

Cons

  • Will be far too strenuous for most people
  • Requires access to additional equipment

Tips For Using A Recumbent Bike

There are a number of things you can do that will ensure your recumbent bike workout is as enjoyable and effective as possible.

For starters, make sure to wear appropriate clothing and shoes to every session. Also, before you begin a session, review and understand the features of the bike.

Make sure the bike is clean, and adjust it to comfortably fit your height and foot size.

Complete warmups and cooldowns at the beginning and end of your session and maintain proper posture throughout to avoid injury.

A power meter can also be used to gauge your progress.

While having your own predetermined plan is advisable, pre-programmed workouts included on the bike are a great way to shake things up.

You also want to eat a proper diet to coincide with exercises, in order to achieve maximum results from your training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we conclude our article, I want to quickly cover some of the most frequently asked questions people have about recumbent bikes.

That way, you will have no lingering doubts when you embark on your program.

Do Recumbent Bikes Help To Burn Fat?

Recumbent bikes can aid in the burning of calories, as well as speed up your body’s metabolism and fat burning capabilities.

Performing HIIT routines on a recumbent bike is a particularly good option for weight loss.

It is important to note, however, that a carefully constructed diet is necessary to produce the best weight loss results possible.

Are Recumbent Bikes Bad For Your Knees?

Not only are recumbent bikes not bad for your knees, but they are actually one of the best workout options available if this is a concern.

The combination of being an exercise with virtually zero impact and the seating position taking all of the pressure off of the knee joints makes recumbent bikes the perfect choice for people with knee problems.

That said, if you have any lingering concerns or a history of knee problems, it may still be best if you consult a physician before using a recumbent bike to find out if it is suitable for you.

Do Recumbent Bikes Give A Good Workout?

If used properly, a recumbent bike offers a great workout. It can provide high intensity cardio and lower body resistance training, while upper body movements can be added as well, allowing you to effectively use it as part of a full body routine.

How Long Should My Workouts Be On A Recumbent Bike?

If workouts on a recumbent bike are your only form of exercise, the general recommendation is for about 20-30 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week.

That said, this is a minimum recommendation, and you are welcome to extend your workouts greatly beyond this if you wish.

Final Thoughts

Recumbent bikes are a great piece of equipment that don’t get nearly the amount of appreciation they deserve.

They are capable of helping you burn fat, improving your fitness, building lower body muscle, and even being used as part of a full body routine.

While they are certainly a common option for people who want to slack off, due to their level of comfort, they are incredibly effective if used in the right way.

Hopefully, this article will have given you all the ideas and information you need to make a recumbent bike an effective part of your workout routine going forward, offering comfortable and effective workouts for years to come.

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