Do Recumbent Bikes Provide Effective Workouts?

27th April 2019
When considering a recumbent bike, everybody thinks using it should be easier and more comfortable than a regular bike. But is this really true?

Recumbent bikes have many advantages. However, there are some details that may make them ineffective. Keep reading to find out how beneficial the workouts using recumbent bikes really are!

Recumbent bikes place the rider in a comfortable position; they’re usually pretty fast on flat surfaces, but slow on inclines as they weigh more than a regular bike.

Even though recumbent bikes are not a part of the Olympic games, people still use them in competitions. Some bikers have even established new records using recumbent bikes; unfortunately, the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) did not recognize them.

Effective workouts using recumbent bikes

Gyms have implemented static recumbent bikes, and a lot of people have replaced their regular bikes with them.

It’s obvious that recumbent bikes provide a comfortable position and are faster, but are they really effective for workouts? In the next paragraphs, we’ll evaluate the pros and cons of working out with a recumbent bike:

Pros

  • Comfort: some people complain about low back, neck, back and arm pain after using a regular bike, something that doesn’t happen with recumbent bikes. This is because they’re designed to keep the rider in a relaxed position, without much effort. Hence, they become a good option for older people or athletes that want to work their legs without placing any kind of tension on their upper body to avoid wrist pain and muscle tension.
  • Visibility: the field of vision for a recumbent bike is wide and extensive. This way, they’re safer than a regular bike, since you can observe your surroundings without any problems.
Two people riding recumbent bikes in the countryside

  • Speed: recumbent bikes are faster on flat ground and downhill slopes. Besides, since your body is in a comfortable position, they guarantee better-pedaling performance.
  • Less cold and less heat: a small issue with conventional bikes is that, during the summer, it’s annoying to ride a bike since the sun hits your whole body. With a recumbent bike, your back is completely covered, which is also an advantage when it’s cold outside.

Cons

  • They’re uncomfortable when trying to look back: the seat of a recumbent bike is extremely comfortable, but the posture makes trying to look back a lot harder. This is an important factor for people who ride recumbent bikes on busy streets and roads.
  • Weight: recumbent bikes are a lot heavier than conventional ones. This is because the seat and structure are big and spacious. Likewise, the mere fact of having a greater weight makes it harder to go up-hill.
  • Different muscle work: the posture that people adopt on recumbent bikes causes the muscles to take a bit longer to assimilate the physical activity. The legs are also prone to suffering from tendonitis since they have to endure a bigger load.
  • Driving: riding a recumbent bike is a bit harder than a regular one. The balance, turns and other moves become harder. Part of this is due to the fact that there’s not a full body balance, but a greater involvement of the lower body.

What do you work with recumbent bikes?

With a recumbent bike, you work all of your lower body. It’s a great alternative to do low impact cardiovascular exercise; you can do this by traveling short or long distances, or by using a static recumbent bike.

Man riding a recumbent bike on a road
Image: icebike.org

Recumbent bikes seem to be harmless and low-demanding, but in reality, they’re very challenging for your leg muscles; this promotes muscle development and blood flow. In the same way, this vehicle is useful for sport rehabilitation therapies.

Taking into account the pros and cons of recumbent bikes, we return to the million dollar question: do they really provide effective workouts? The answer is they can facilitate effective training but they also have disadvantages.

It’s true that we can use them to work out with a greater comfort or even to add speed to our ride, but we must pay attention to ensure using them doesn’t result in injuries. And of course, riding safety is a fundamental aspect as well.

Now you know! If you want to focus on effective training for your legs and give your upper body a break, then we encourage you to train with a recumbent bike!