Is a Recumbent Bike a Good Workout?

This post contains links that we may earn a small commission for at no cost to you read more

You might be thinking that someone working out on a recumbent bike looks more like relaxing than sweating it out, right? So, let’s ask that silent question, “Does a recumbent bike provide a good workout?”

Yes, like other cycling exercises, riding on a recumbent bicycle is one of the best ways to get your heart pumping,  burn calories, and lose fat. The difference is in the laid-back seat, which means that there is a lot less pressure on your body – especially your back and legs.

This setup may even motivate you into completing a longer workout, which is a good thing overall.

Using an indoor cycling machine like a recumbent bike also ensures that you get a fully customized workout every time. Gone are the days when you could only cycle at one speed and intensity. You can now mimic the conditions that you’d be facing on an uphill cycle – without having to make one step out your door.

I’m all for outdoor fun, but imagine how convenient a recumbent bike can be during subzero weather. Or when you don’t even have a half hour to insert a quick workout into your hectic schedule.

So, what else is there about a recumbent bike that you need to know before deciding on buying one? Let’s dive into that right now.

What Is a Recumbent Bike?

A recumbent exercise bike is a machine where you can exercise while sitting in a reclined position, which is beneficial for people who have back or joint issues. Even if you don’t have medical issues, you can easily imagine exercising while reading a book or watching your favorite television program. Now, isn’t that inviting?

Girl at gym working out on a Recumbent Bike

A workout that allows you to be comfortable makes you want to exercise for longer, right? You’re not likely to fly and die, so it’s a more enjoyable workout that you’ll want to come back to again and again. That’s what a recumbent bike offers.

For these reasons, many people prefer recumbent bikes over upright stationary bikes or other cardio machines. Let’s look more closely how you can benefit from this exercise equipment.

Benefits of a Recumbent Bike

We’ve more than emphasized on the comfort that a recumbent bike provides. However, comfort rarely ranks top one in the criteria for a worthy workout machine, right? I mean, it has to offer more than just a comfortable seat. Here’s what a recumbent bicycle offers.

  1. Great lower body exercise. It works exactly the same muscles engaged in a regular exercise bike. It is a good cardio exercise that strengthens leg muscles (quads, glutes, calves, and hams) and abs muscles.
  2. Full back support. Using a recumbent bike provides full back support during exercise via the larger seat and backrest. Not only does this provide comfort, but more importantly, it supports and evenly distributes body weight, putting far less stress on the joints and lower back than an upright or outdoor bike does.
  3. Safety. If you have mobility limitations or you struggle with balance, you may find that a recumbent bike is safer to use because there is less risk of falling off than when using an upright bike or other standing cardio equipment, such as a stair climber or a treadmill.
  4. Customizability. It’s easy to tailor your workouts to meet your fitness level and goals, whether you’re new to working out or a seasoned pro. You can vary your pedaling speed, increase or decrease the resistance, and you can even try cycling backwards or increasing the incline to create a more challenging workout.
  5. Range of motion. If you are looking for a way to increase your range of motion and flexibility without pushing your body to its extreme limits, the recumbent bike will help you do that. Not only does it improve circulation, it also helps you stretch your body more freely.

How to Attain Your Fitness Goals on a Recumbent Bike

You need at least two things to make your workouts on a recumbent equipment successful- consistency and variation! Now, aren’t those opposing ideas? Let’s see.

Exercise Consistently

You need to exercise consistently. That’s the key to any fitness routine, especially when it comes to fat loss or muscle strengthening. You will only see the results that you desire if you put in the hard work. And even after you attain your goal, you need to keep moving to maintain your fitness and progress to the next level.

Think about it this way: One healthy meal or one explosive workout won’t make a change to your body. One workout is better than none at all is what some people say, but it won’t help you see the lasting results you’re looking for.

Lady sitting on a Recumbent Bike at the gym

Can you achieve fat loss using a recumbent bike? The answer is a resounding yes. If you consistently do your cardio sessions and maintain a balanced diet, you’ll create a bigger overall calorie deficit, translating to weight loss.

If you want to see results within a few months, you should aim to complete 3-4 sessions on your recumbent bike each week and do other exercises or physical activities for the rest of the week.

In an ideal world you should be able to fit around 5 sessions in, but we know it can be difficult especially if you have a demanding schedule. Remember to incorporate at least one full day of rest so you don’t overwork yourself!

Trending Article:  Can You Lose Weight Riding a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Keep Things Varied

Your body is a smart machine that gets efficient at doing things. What I mean is that once your body knows your exercise regimen, it learns to use calories efficiently (meaning less calorie burn).

Senior man sitting on a Recumbent Bike wearing a blue tshirt

That’s why you need to keep a bit of variation in your workout routine. You can introduce variations to the intensity of your workout or the type of exercise you do. Change the speed or resistance setting every now and then, do HIIT, or switch to another exercise equipment every other day or so.

Recumbent bikes offer different levels of resistance so this is something you might want to explore in more detail when you are using the machine or planning to buy your own.

Things to Consider When Buying a Recumbent Bike

A great bike fit will give you a great range of motion so you can pedal on the bike with good form while also sitting very comfortably. Otherwise, you may risk falling off or make it worse for your hip or bone issues, further delaying any fat loss or toning goals that you want to achieve.

Range Of Motion on a Recumbent excise equipment

Some things you need to consider when choosing a good recumbent bike include:

  • A high weight-bearing capacity – at least one that can support your weight or other users in the household
  • A good inseam range – to ensure full range of motion when pedaling, choose one with a max inseam higher than your inseam
  • Comfort – check the seat measurements, especially the width
  • Adjustability – check that the settings provide for several levels of speed, resistance, and inclines to ensure diverse workouts


A recumbent bike indeed makes for a good workout- providing a good cardio exercise and improving range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Its laid-back seating provides not only comfort but also full-back support, which is beneficial for people with joint issues and mobility difficulties.

Most recumbent bikes I’ve seen are highly customizable (in terms of resistance, speed levels, inclines). However, don’t take my word for it- check them out yourself. When you’re buying one, make sure to check on these specs and features since not all seated exercise bikes are created equal.

Indoor cycling using a recumbent bike not only allows you to get your exercise done at home, it also helps you multitask.

While seated comfortably and pedaling away, you can check your phone or tab and catch up on your emails, do a conference, read a book, and maybe write a novel? Who knows, your imagination is the limit!