Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Jeff
Cardio; you either love it or you hate it, but everyone knows they really should do it.
With so much different equipment out there, it can be difficult to choose what cardio machine will work best for you or give you the best workout specific to your needs.
To help you make this choice, we will be discussing the pros and cons of a lesser-known piece of cardio equipment – the recumbent bicycle.
One of the largest questions posed around recumbent bicycles is why would you use a recumbent bike instead of a recumbent stationary bike.
To answer this, we are going to discuss the various drawbacks and benefits of a recumbent bike as opposed to a normal stationary bicycle.
Pros of Using a Stationary Recumbent Bicycle
Many people find recumbents much more comfortable than other upright bicycles. This is due to the larger seat, for one.
Most upright bicycles have tiny, hard saddles that make cycling simply unenjoyable. Recumbent bicycles have a softer seat with a larger surface area, making the overall experience much more pleasurable.
Additionally, your back is supported by a backrest so you don’t have to bend forward to hold the handlebars as you would with an upright bicycle. This means that a lot less pressure is placed on the lower back, and alleviates lower back pain.
Less Strain on Joints
The recumbent bicycle places very little stress on your joints, making it ideal if you suffer from osteoarthritis, lower back pain, or knee and hip issues. It is thus also a safer option for elderly and obese individuals.
Easier for Beginners
For a beginner who has just started exercising and is not yet comfortable in the gym, a recumbent can be an excellent choice for three main reasons.
Firstly, if they are unsure of how to use complicated cardio equipment, the easy-to-use recumbent will put their mind at ease.
Secondly, if they are not yet comfortable in a gym environment, they can set up a recumbent in their house and exercise from the comfort of their own home.
Finally, the intensity of exercise is not extremely high, so it will help you ease into exercise.
Safe Option for Those with Injuries
Due to the stability, back support, and minimal joint stress provided by a recumbent, this bike is often very useful and safe for people suffering from all types of injuries.
Due to the comfortable position the back is placed in, a recumbent bike is good for sciatica, for example.
A recumbent bike has a seat that is much wider and closer to the floor than that of an upright bike, which makes the chances of falling off a lot less possible.
So if someone struggles with balance, and may feel uneasy on an upright bike, the recumbent will be a much better choice.
Better Option for Seniors and Obese
One thing that elderly and obese people have in common is that they aren’t able to move around very easily and their range of motion is often limited.
Therefore, a recumbent would be perfect for either one of these populations as they wouldn’t have to climb up onto a high (and very small) seat. They also don’t have to worry about possibly falling off.
Efficient Lower Body Workout
The muscles used on a recumbent exercise bike are mainly the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and gluteal muscles.
A recumbent bike does work your abs, as they need to stay contracted throughout pedaling. Making recumbent bicycles beneficial for toning and strengthening your lower body and legs.
Increases Cardiovascular Fitness
Cardiovascular fitness refers to how efficient your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, and vessels) is at supplying your body with oxygen-filled blood and nutrients during exercise.
This is important as it can decrease your risk of getting heart disease and various other complications. This is improved through aerobic exercise, which is what recumbent cycling is classified as.
Due to the recumbent being so easy to use and not posing a risk of falling off, you can do other things whilst you exercise.
These include answering work emails, catching up on your favorite series, finishing off last-minute assignments, and anything else you can think of!
Cons of Using a Stationary Recumbent Bicycle
It May Get Boring, Unless…
Recumbent bikes may lack the extreme challenging workouts that an advanced athlete who thrives on being challenged may miss.
That said, with some of the newer models of recumbent bikes like the NordicTrack R35, you’ll get a touchscreen monitor that features on-demand workouts and Auto-Adjust tech that changes the resistance automatically with the workout. That definitely can keep things interesting.
Recumbents are usually more expensive than upright bikes, as they are bigger and require more materials and technology to build.
Not as Calorie Efficient As Other Forms of Cardio
Recumbent cycling is fairly low intensity and doesn’t make use of the upper body, which means that fewer calories burned on a recumbent bicycle in an hour than what would be with running or an elliptical machine.
So a recumbent bike for weight loss may not be ideal for you.
Will Not Build as Much Muscle as Resistance Training
Although a recumbent bike will help to tone your legs, it won’t build as much muscle as weight training will.
For example, even though a recumbent bike works your glutes, a hip thrust, or running, would be more effective in growing and strengthening them.
This is because weight training and running require much more strength and power from the glutes compared to cycling.
Only Exercises the Lower Body
The recumbent does not offer a full-body exercise as only the lower body and core are used. The upper body is not exercised at all.
Bulky Piece of Machinery
Recumbents are bigger than upright bikes and require a fair amount of space.
You can get a good workout on a recumbent bike as there are many benefits of a recumbent bike. However, it is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. These are just a few reasons why you should buy a recumbent bike.