Are Recumbent Bikes Good?


Are Recumbent bikes good for losing weight?  I heard that since you're laying back against the seat you don't work as much muscles which makes your body not burn fat as efficiently.

If they are good for losing weight, are recumbent bikes good for increasing performance in bicycling?  My boyfriend does triathlons in the summer and wants to train in the winter inside.

I like recumbent bikes because they are comfortable but I need to know if recumbent bikes are good for my goals of losing 15 pounds as well as my boyfriend's goals of training the bicycle part of the triathlon.

So my basic question is:  Are recumbent bikes good for weight loss and performance?  How do recumbent bikes compare to upright sitting bikes, elliptical trainers, etc.


Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken

Are Recumbent Bikes Good for Weight Loss & Improving Cardiovascular Performance?Recumbent Bike

Without taking any personal issues into consideration, the short answer to your question is yes. Even cheap recumbent exercise bikes are just as capable as the $5-10,000 top-of-the line brand new equipment at any high-end fitness center.

Pedaling against the resistance that recumbent bikes provide will cause your heart rate to elevate which in turn burns calories which causes your body to use the excess energy (calories) in which most of it is in the body's fat stores. This "fat burning" is the same on all cardio machines.

Additional Factors

The weakness of recumbent bikes versus other pieces of cardio equipment is the lack of variety. Other than the programs which your recumbent bike offers (as well as upright stationary bikes) which can manipulate resistance and/or ask your to manipulate speed the only mode of exercise you will be doing on it is pedaling in the same direction.

If you're not in love with bicycling or training for a triathlon like your boyfriend there is a good chance you will get bored with a recumbent bike. Also if using your recumbent bike is your primary source of physical activity in your exercise program, the seat will rob your body's core muscles of the extra work (not very much, but still significant) you would be doing with a standing form of cardiovascular exercise or even an upright stationary bike.

Recumbent Bikes vs. Other Forms of Cardiovascular Exercise

As mentioned before, the mode of exercise is limited with a recumbent bike. The latest forms of exercise equipment are beginning to come out with multiple ways to exercise on them. Whether it be pedaling backwards, changing the incline, changing the resistance, using the handles, or changing the entire movement most new cardio machines offer better variety compared with recumbent bikes.

Are recumbent bikes good compared to these machines for raising the heart rate and burning calories?  Absolutely. Will these new cardio machines be more fun to use than the recumbent bike?  Probably. This is probably the most important aspect of any cardio machine because if you end up not using it, it will not help you burn calories so make sure you try a variety of machines to find which one you like the best before you settle on a recumbent bike.

Final Words

Are recumbent bikes good for getting your heart rate up high enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as burning calories efficiently enough to achieve weight loss?  Yes.

Are recumbent bikes the best piece of exercise equipment to buy?  No. Recumbent bikes are often cheap compared to more 'advanced' pieces of cardio equipment so they are always an option but, there are cardio machines out there which offer far more benefits including variety of exercise, intensity levels, movements and more muscle mass involved to name a few.

If your sole form of exercise is using your home cardio machine, a recumbent bike would not be recommended, but if you plan to use your recumbent bikes as part of a balanced exercise program then go for it!

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