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With more people doing sedentary jobs, eating quick meals, and driving cars instead of walking, it’s easier than ever to pile on the pounds. Are you thinking that perhaps a recumbent bike will be a good start? It looks so relaxed that you can’t help but ask, “How many calories will a recumbent bike burn?” Or will it?
Let’s take an example.
A 155-lb person can burn 260 calories in a 30-minute bike exercise. To lose 1 pound a week, that person needs to burn 3,500 calories more than he or she consumes by doing 1 hour of bike exercise per day.
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Don’t look surprised, but a recumbent bike works the same muscles that a regular exercise bike does. The calories you burn depend on factors like your weight, speed of your workout, and incline of the bike.
Doing the math, if that person in the example works out on a bike an hour every day of the week (burning roughly 3,500 calories a week) while maintaining a healthy diet, he or she will easily lose 1 pound per week. Of course, that’s just an example, and take note that you should always reserve one day per week to rest and recover.
Today’s guide will examine how you can use recumbent bikes to lose weight, how much weight loss to expect, and the best possible ways to use stationary bikes in an exercise program.
How Do You Lose Weight?
Before we look at how to use recumbent bikes to lose weight, we need to explore how you lose weight to begin with.
It’s actually a much simpler process than people think. Often we’re looking for fad diets and supposed miracle pills. Sometimes, people think that just eating fruit will help them–but the fact is, this isn’t how it works.
Eat less, move more. That’s the general formula for weight loss, but you guessed it right, there’s more to it than that.
What Are Calories?
Our body takes in energy via food and drink, and this energy is known as calories.
Calories are the amount of energy that a food or drink can give you. The units you use for energy are kilojoules (KJ) and kilocalories (Kcal) or just calories.
The most used measurement is Kcal or cal, and for this article, we’ll use cal from here onwards.
For a healthy-weight male, the recommended daily calorie intake amount is 2500 cal. Normally, this amount supports his body’s systems and allows him to maintain his body weight. More than that and the surplus caloric energy is stored as fat. That’s one of the reasons we pile on the pounds and get chunky!
What Is Calorie Deficit?
Calorie deficit is what you should aim for to lose weight. Let’s explain that more.
If you burn more calories than your body needs to maintain its vital functioning, you create a calorie deficit, which means you’ll lose weight. Calories are burned naturally throughout the day, but at very low levels. To lose weight significantly, you need to lower your calorie intake and exercise more.
An overweight man who wants to start losing weight should start creating a calorie deficit- by eating fewer calories and exercising to burn calories.
If he currently consumes 3,000 cal per day, for example, he can start by cutting back 500 cal off his usual fare. At 2,500 cal, he’s back to his recommended calorie intake. If he starts burning 500 cal by exercising, he’ll be able to create a 500-calorie deficit per day and lose roughly 1 pound per week.
Am I Exercising Enough & Burning Calories?
When you exercise, your heart works harder to pump blood as your body burns calories and releases energy in the form of carbon dioxide (breathing out CO2) and sweating (excess water).
You’ll know how intense you’re exercising (read: how hard you’re working and using up energy) by how labored your breathing becomes. In other words, don’t judge the intensity of your activity by your sweating alone. So, that sauna you thought was burning your fats as sweat? Don’t bank on it!
That’s why cardio exercises are the best way to lose weight, you can bet on that.
If you have a medical condition or you have reason to doubt your fitness to start working out, you should seek your doctor’s approval first before proceeding. Depending on your starting weight and overall fitness levels, your exercise program will be designed specifically for you.
Are Recumbent Exercise Bikes Good for Weight Loss?
The general rule of thumb to lose a pound a week: Eat 500 calories less than what your body requires or burn 500 calories or more by exercising.
A heavier person will generally burn more calories and lose more weight than someone lighter doing the same 30-minute exercise.
A 155-lb person doing a 30-minute recumbent bike exercise on a flat surface (or “0” incline setting) will burn around 260 calories, while someone weighing 185 pounds will burn around 310 calories.
If you think these numbers are a little low, don’t worry. When you start on your weight loss journey, you’ll have to start slow anyway, but you’ll see encouraging results in no time.
The best thing to do is to incorporate recumbent bikes with upper body exercises, or alternate bike exercise with full body workouts, such as indoor rowing or elliptical cross training. The importance of combining and alternating workouts is that you keep your body guessing, which makes losing weight more effective.
Where Does Diet Fit in?
You’ve heard me say this before, and I’ll say it again–you can’t out-run, out-bike or out-exercise a bad diet.
You could exercise all day on stationary bikes, but if you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning on the bike, you won’t lose any weight. You may be much more aerobically fit though, which isn’t bad health-wise, just off-target!
As you’ve read in our examples above, you can create calorie deficit by eating less than what your body needs to function. The healthier approach is to use both diet and exercise to create the calorie deficit you need to lose weight. This way, you don’t deprive yourself too much with a rigid diet or punish your body by exercising excessively
So what’s the best diet? This remains a hotly debated issue. Some argue you should cut down on carbohydrate energy foods because the body will burn energy from these first before it targets fat cells, but we’ll not go into that.
All you need to focus on is eat fewer calories and do more body movement. Choose a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and you’ll never go wrong.
The Bottom Line
Stationary bikes, including recumbent bikes, can help you lose weight no doubt. They’re great machines to use, and you’re spoilt for choice because there’s lots in the market.
For recumbent bikes to work (or any other exercise machine, for that matter), you should stick to a healthy diet. Healthier foods usually have fewer calories in them than unhealthy foods, so you can eat and not feel bad, and not lose any progress too!
Expect to lose more weight the longer you use your recumbent bike and the more difficult the settings you switch the bike to. The secret is to continually challenge your body to keep seeing results and so you don’t hit the dreaded workout plateau.
Have fun exercising! It’s my secret to a healthy, happy life!
Written by Kathleen Langdon – TheHealthPot.com Founder
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)
Kathleen, a mother of two, struggled with ongoing weight and health issues. She created this website after she turned her life around. She built Thehealthpot.com to help inspire and motivate others with their fitness goals. Read more about Kathleen here.