Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by JP
A recumbent exercise bike will give you a cardio workout while targeting your main muscle groups, with much less effort and strain on the joints than most other forms of exercise.
You may have heard about this type of bike and want to discover what it can do for you, but are unsure how to start using a recumbent bike.
Whether you are a beginner needing to know the basics, or a gym veteran seeking a better understanding of this amazing fitness tool, you will find all that you need to know in this detailed guide to using a recumbent bike.
Our Beginners Guide To Using A Recumbent Bike
You must observe the correct form when working out on your recumbent stationary bike.
Poor posture while using your bike can lead to neck stiffness and back pain, and if you already suffer from chronic back pain this is especially important.
The following guidelines describe the form you should use when starting to work out on your recumbent exercise bike.
Instructions For The Proper Use Of A Recumbent Stationary Bike
Set Up Your Bike
Your recumbent exercise bike will require minimal assembly once you’ve removed it from the shipping box.
Included with your machine you’ll find a user’s guide or manual, a warranty card, and probably a small set of tools to aid in the assembly of your bike.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions using the tools that are provided. Store the user manual and warranty card together, in a safe place.
Once you’ve set up your machine, it’s time to warm up.
Warm-Up Before Your Workout
Before using your bike, perform some gentle warm-up stretches. Do this before every workout to reduce the risk of muscle cramps.
Make All Necessary Adjustments
Depending on your height and the length of your legs, you may need to adjust your recumbent bike seat position before you use your recumbent bike.
Climb onto the bike and place both feet on the pedals, then spin the cranks a couple of times. When the pedal is at the lowest position, your leg should be nearly straight.
Adjust the seat by sliding forward or backward until your extended leg has only a slight bend at the knee when at its farthest point.
Certain bikes allow for the adjustment of handlebars as well, but they usually only need adjustment if you’re much taller or shorter than average.
Your arms should extend at shoulder level when holding the handlebars.
Get To Know The Console
Switch on the console and familiarise yourself with the programs and features, and how to adjust the levels of resistance. On any recumbent bike model, there will be a warm-up program and varying levels of resistance.
Be sure that you know how to control the resistance and other features, before starting with your workout.
Strap In Safely
Once you are certain that you have set up the bike correctly and you are seated comfortably, place your feet on the pedals and fasten the safety straps. They should close snugly around your feet to keep them securely in place for your comfort and safety.
Take care that you use them properly, as too loose a fit could cause your feet to slip and therefore risk injury, whereas straps that are too tight could cut off your circulation.
Get Ready To Start
Place your hands on the handlebars. These usually have foam-covered handgrips, which on certain bike models have integrated hand pulse sensors that relay your heart rate reading to the console.
These sensors are very sensitive, and if your grip on them is too tight or too weak you may get an invalid reading or none at all.
Select the warm-up program to start. Then push down on the pedal with the ball of your foot, and pull up again with the top of your foot.
You should have slightly bent knees when the pedal is at its lowest point. If they are not, you need to stop and adjust the seat forward or backward.
Once you’ve warmed up by pedaling at low resistance for a few minutes, increase the level of resistance incrementally.
Keep your shoulders back with your back against the backrest, and do not lean forward or hunch over. Poor posture while working out can lead to unnecessary aches and pains.
Alternate The Speed And Resistance
Find a level of intensity and a pace that is comfortable for you to start, but you should increase and decrease resistance and rpm at regular intervals.
Alternating your speed and the level of resistance during workout sessions will make your workout more challenging.
At a higher level of resistance, it takes more effort to push the pedals. This makes your leg muscles stronger and improves your fitness levels.
Don’t push yourself too hard when you first start using a recumbent bike. In time, you’ll find it easier to pedal at a faster pace or higher level of resistance.
Cooling down after a workout is as important as warming up before.
To wind down your session, lower the resistance and slow down your pace until you gradually come to a gentle stop. Once you have climbed off the bike, do a few gentle stretches again.
Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Recumbent Bike Workouts
Keep Your Bike In Good Condition
To reap the benefits of recumbent cycling, you must care for your bike properly.
Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure the optimum performance of your machine.
Track your progress
Many recumbent bike models have customizable programs that allow you to keep track of your progress, making it easier for you to stay motivated to reach your fitness goals.
It helps to follow a personalized workout routine to achieve your fitness or weight loss goals, but remember to vary the intensity by adjusting the resistance and changing your pace.
As you become stronger and fitter, you’ll be able to cycle for longer and at a higher resistance. This will motivate you to continue exercising and set new goals for yourself.
Keep Things Interesting
One of the best things about using a recumbent bike is that you can do other things while working out comfortably.
To prevent workout boredom, keep things interesting by listening to music or watching a movie while pedaling.
Choosing The Right Bike For You
When choosing a recumbent stationary bike, you should take the following factors into account: Your fitness levels and goals, age and mobility, medical issues, budget, and lifestyle.
There are different kinds of recumbent stationary bikes available, each with its distinctive benefits.
- Basic Recumbent
A recumbent stationary bike with no extra features, ideal for a beginner or someone on a budget.
An option that is midway between an upright and a recumbent exercise bike, which may be easier for some users to get on and off.
Recumbent bike dimensions can be an issue in a small apartment. This type of recumbent bike can fold down to facilitate storage. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for a lightweight option that you can store out of sight when not in use.
This is a recumbent bike that has the added feature of movable handlebars or resistance bands that give your arms a workout too. Also available in semi-recumbent designs.
- Dual Recumbent/Upright
The best of both worlds, this bike can be used as either an upright or a recumbent bike, thereby providing you with the benefits of each style, and keeping your workouts more interesting.
- Recumbent Bike With Elliptical/Stepper Capabilities
Designed to give you a total body workout, this product is a combination of a recumbent bike with an elliptical/stepper machine in one piece of equipment. Sometimes called cross-trainer recumbents, or recumbent elliptical hybrids.
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