Last Updated on October 29, 2021 by JP
The recumbent bike is the ultimate exercise machine to smash your cardiovascular and fitness goals, without compromising on the care and support of your upper body and back. And if you’re new to working out, recumbent bikes are great for getting started.
It might be a comfortable way to exercise, but it is also a highly effective way to lose weight and hit your fitness goals. But, you need to ensure you are using it the right way and slotting it into a broader health plan that includes an improved diet and lifestyle.
We look at what exactly this cycling phenomenon is, how effective it is, and how best to use it for your cardio and fitness needs.
How to Use a Recumbent Bike for Cardio
To wrangle the maximum fitness benefits out of a recumbent bike, you need to ensure you are using it as efficiently as possible.
A regular exercise routine is imperative to achieve results. Anywhere between three to six sessions per week is ideal, with 30-60 minutes per session, depending on what your health and fitness goals are. Ensure you schedule at least one rest day per week, to prevent injury or burnout.
Pairing this with a healthy eating plan that suits your specific goal will maximize results. Alternate using this with other exercises to avoid losing interest. Working out solely on the recumbent bike might get tedious, making you more likely to abandon your consistent routine.
Varying the intensity of your workouts will burn more calories and increase your overall fitness. This can be done by either increasing the resistance, the speed, or both. Increasing the resistance on the bike can also build muscle tone on your legs, strengthening your lower body.
Be cautious when reaching for the resistance knob. Start with the lowest option, and as you build up strength over time, you can begin to increase resistance. Turning it all the way up as a beginner will slow you down, and leave you with criminally sore legs.
You can also play around with the resistance a few times during a single workout, to attempt a highly effective and beneficial form of exercise: interval training on a recumbent bike.
The key is to combine longer periods of slow pedaling with short periods of intense, speedy pedaling. Adding resistance to either form adds intensity and difficulty when you want to challenge yourself.
Interval training on the recumbent bike can have many benefits. The spurts of intensity are golden as your heart rate goes up, causing aggressive calorie burn. It’s also an efficient way to burn the same number of calories you would in a 60-minute, low-intensity session – in just 10-15 minutes.
It is a surefire way to improve cardiovascular fitness, which also leads to a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. vascular fitness can also help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Finally, it adds some excitement to your routine. You can change your intervals daily, to make it feel like you are doing a new workout every day. Not only does this keep your body challenged to achieve results faster, but it also ensures you stick with your routine.
It might sound obvious, but adjusting your seat to suit your height makes all the difference. It will make you more comfortable, allowing you to have a stronger workout. It also engages the muscles and lessens the risk of injury.
To figure out your ideal position, check that your extended leg has a very slight bend. Your other leg, that’s closer to you, will have a hard bend. If your extended leg is straight when extended, you are too far back and could cause injury to your leg and back muscles.
Do not lean forward – this is not good form, and can cause injury. Try to keep your back flat against the seat, and hold on to the handles (usually on the side) when increasing your speed. This also allows you to push harder and faster, making it a more efficient workout.
If you want to push your workout a bit further, throw in some dumbbells. This will train your upper body while your legs are cycling away, resulting in a killer full-body workout. Your fitness and stamina levels will skyrocket, plus weight loss and muscle gain will increase.
If you’re a beginner, rather work your way up to this. Start with a focus on cycling, and once you feel your exercise proficiency has improved enough, you can reach for those dumbbells.
Show your muscles some love before and after your workout. It is always beneficial to stretch before and after your cycle, to avoid sore joints or injury. It also loosens up your muscles, which improves the quality of your walkout.
When you hop on the recumbent bike, warm yourself up with 3-5 minutes of slow, low-resistance cycling, before ramping it up.
This warms up the muscles and gets your cycle into a rhythm. It also creates blood flow to the muscles which provides more oxygen, lessening fatigue in the workout.
A cool-down period is incredibly important after an intense workout, so much so that many recumbent bikes have it set as default after a timed workout. Revert to a slow, low-intensity cycle for 3-5 minutes after your workout is over.
This gradually lowers your heart rate and breathing, which helps to avoid any lightheadedness or dizziness. It also prepares your muscles for any exercise you may do after your time on the bike.
Keep Yourself Occupied
Staring at the timer for an entire 30-60 minute workout session is nothing short of torturous. Listen to music or a podcast to keep yourself entertained, or take advantage of the comfortable seating to read a book, or browse on your phone or tablet. This will speed up the workout.
Cardio Workout for Interval Training
Interval training can take your fitness to a new level, and increase your strength and stamina. As previously stated, the internal and external benefits are many, and it is an efficient way to burn maximum calories in a minimum time.
If you’re new to the concept of interval training, try yourself out with this simple recumbent bike workout:
Begin by pedaling at a low speed for 5 minutes. Ramp up to a medium speed for 10 minutes, and then:
- High speed for 2 minutes
- Low speed for 3 minutes
- High speed for 2 minutes
- Low speed for 3 minutes
- High speed for 2 minutes
Finally, cool down at a low speed for about 5 minutes.
Once you build up stamina, you can increase each interval. To add intensity, increase the resistance for low-speed intervals.
Are Recumbent Bike Workouts Effective?
Do not let the comfortable seating deceive you – a recumbent bike exercise routine can allow for a rigorous workout with multiple benefits.
Cycling on a recumbent bike increases cardiovascular fitness, resulting in significant fitness improvement. It also has internal benefits: improving lung capacity, strengthening heart health, and reducing blood pressure.
And like any exercise, it can relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Consistent exercise can increase the serotonin levels in your brain, which is a mood booster. It can also improve your sleep quality and patterns, and improve any appetite issues.
While recumbent bikes might be more commonly sought after for their cardio appeal, their effects on strength and muscle-building are nothing to scoff at. It builds and strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, shins, calf muscles, and glutes.
What is a Recumbent Bike?
A recumbent bike is a type of cycling equipment that has a cushioned seat and a backrest that allows you to sit in a reclined position.
This differs from the typical upright bike as it creates a comfortable workout position by taking the pressure off the upper body and providing back support. What remains the same as other cycling options is the ability to adjust the speed and resistance level to suit your proficiency and workout intensity.
The benefits of recumbent bike training are plentiful. The backrest, large seat, and reclined position provide support to those with back and/or hip pain. The low impact of cycling on a recumbent bike is also easier on the joints.
Most importantly, recumbent bikes are an effective way to improve fitness levels, and upper body, lower body, and core strength. It’s also a convenient exercise option at the gym, or in your own home.
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