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Will a Recumbent Bike Tone My Legs?

Last Updated on October 29, 2021 by Jeff

When you think of cycling, you immediately know that it will be a lower-body workout. 

But if all cycling, in general, can tone legs, you may be wondering “Why use a recumbent bike specifically?”

There is something different about the muscles used on a recumbent bike that makes it  stand out from an upright bike as such a good tool to tone your legs.

However, although there are benefits of a recumbent bike for toning your legs, it is important to weigh up the potential negatives, too.

We will be doing just that in this article so that you can assess whether a recumbent bike will meet your goals and get you the toned legs of your dreams. 

Will a recumbent bike tone legsLower Body Muscles Used with a Recumbent Bike

The muscles used on a recumbent bike are the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.

With a normal upright bike, you have to use your upper body quite a lot to keep balanced, whereas the recumbent bike places you in a position where it is only the leg muscles working, which places all focus on them getting toned. 

A recumbent bike will also work your abs, which is an important element in all types of leg strengthening and toning.

Calories In vs Calories Out

When it comes to toning your muscles, not only do you have to build lean muscle mass, but you also have to decrease the excess fat surrounding them. 

To do this, you have to be in a calorie deficit. This means that the calories you expend in a day must be more than the calories that you take in.

Unfortunately, the amount of calories burnt on a recumbent bike per hour is quite minimal.

This makes weight loss with a recumbent bike a slow process, and as a result, it may take longer to tone your legs, or, if you’re not in a calorie deficit, may not happen at all. 

Is a Recumbent Bike Good for Toning Legs?

It is clear that a recumbent bike will tone your legs. 

However, for you to decide whether or not it’ll be the right form of exercise to reach your toned leg goals, it is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a recumbent bike in terms of leg toning. 


Predominantly Lower Leg Muscles Used

As mentioned, a recumbent bike only uses the leg muscles, and not the upper body as with an upright bike, making it more focused on toning your legs.

The angle of the pedals targets your glutes much more than an upright bike, providing greater potential for toning.

Good Option for People who are Injured or Elderly

A recumbent bike is a good way to tone legs for people who are elderly or injured and can’t lift weights or do other forms of exercise. 

For example, a recumbent bike is good for someone with sciatica. Normally, the types of exercise that they can do are quite limited, so they struggle to tone their legs.  A recumbent bike allows them to do so. 


Few Calories Burned

As mentioned, the recumbent bike is not very calorie efficient. This may make the process of toning your legs take longer than other modes of exercise would. 

May Not Be As Effective As Weight Training

Resistance training, also known as weight training, is extremely effective in toning leg muscles. This is because when lifting weights, you are burning calories and fat while simultaneously increasing lean muscle mass.

Lean muscle is what gives your muscles a sleek, muscular look, and is very important if you want toned legs. 

Although a recumbent bike may work the same muscles as a lower-body resistance training program, resistance training will be much more efficient and effective at building lean muscle mass.

Resistance training requires the muscles to overcome a resistance force and increases the size of muscle fibers. This is something that would take very long for a recumbent bike to do.

It is doable, though, as long as you make sure to increase the resistance so that you’re getting a proper workout. 

Only Works in One Plane of Motion 

Three planes of motion exist – sagittal, transverse, and frontal. 

It is important to work through all three of these planes when you exercise as it helps to prepare your body for the stresses of everyday life and activity.

It also helps to work muscles at different angles, which can help them get stronger and create a more toned look. 

Unfortunately, recumbent cycling is one repeated motion and only works in one plane.

This means that recumbent cycling isn’t very functional, and doesn’t work the muscles through their different ranges, which may limit how toned they can get. 

Final Thoughts

It is evident that a recumbent bike can be used to tone your legs. It just might be a bit of a slower process.

So, if you are still wondering Is a recumbent bike good exercise for me to tone my legs?”, the key is to analyze your goals and assess whether or not it’ll meet your specific needs.