recumbent bike workouts for beginners

Recumbent Bike Workouts for Beginners 2024 (Exercises & Tips)

If you have come across a  foldable exercise bike at the gym or have one at home, you may be wondering what type of exercises you could do with the bike to work all your muscle groups. This guide is designed to guide you through the best recumbent bike workouts for beginners.

A recumbent bike is suitable for beginners because of its seating position and ease of use.

A recumbent bike helps in exercising your hamstrings, quads, bum, and legs. In this article, you will learn the best warm-up exercises for indoor cycling workouts for beginners using a stationary bike and more.

Recumbent Bike Workout Plan for Beginners (2024)

How to Set Up a Recumbent Exercise Bike

If you have never used a stationary bike before, it is important to familiarize yourself with it first. Take some minutes to learn how it works.

If you are in a gym, you could ask a trainer to help you pick the right bike. If you already have one at home:

  • Ensure you have adjusted the seat and pedal straps correctly.
  • Start the control panel and ensure everything is working accordingly. Most control panels indicate heart rate, time, calories, and speed.
  • Next, check  the resistance levels settings. Most bike have the resistance dial under the control panel. After you familiarize yourself with your recumbent bike, it is time to warm up.

More: Here are the best L Now indoor cycling exercise bike for anyone whose looking for a bike that offers more intense workouts

Warm Up Exercise for Cycling

I’d like to share a funny but somewhat sad tale. The first time I decided to start my weight loss journey, I went straight to YouTube, got a nice kickboxing workout video and started exercising that very moment. I didn’t warm up. Three days later, my knees hurt, my back hurt. It was punishing.

You don’t need to go through the same experience to learn from my mistake.

Whether you are a beginner or fitness pro, you must warm up before starting your workout routine. Here are some stretching workouts that pros swear by:

1. Chest stretch

The first body parts you should stretch are your chest muscles. Keeping your chest flexible helps you maintain proper posture throughout your exercise.

What to do: Pick a towel and hold it behind your back. Each hand should hold the end of the towel. Legs should be parted slightly. Then lift your hands slightly, such that your chest will be pushed outwards.  Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 5 times.

2. Shoulder reach

Next, warm up your shoulders and loosen them with shoulder reaches.

shoulder reaches

What to do: This exercise simply involves bringing your hands together behind your back. Place your left hand behind you. Fingers should face outwards and point upwards. Place your right arm behind your head. The fingers should face inwards and point downwards. Then stretch yourself to touch your left hands fingers.

3. Leg swings

Next, you’re going to work out your lower body. If you start cycling without warming up your lower body, chances are your hips and calves will ache after your routine. Here is how to stretch your hips before using a recumbent bike.

What to do: The first thing you need to do is look for something to hold on for stability. Start to swing your left leg forward and backwards. Repeat this 10 times before moving to the right leg. Repeat the exercise for 1 minute.

4.Toe-to-heel and heel-to-toe walking

Now you’re going to focus on warming up your calves. This will help increase their flexibility, strengthen the muscles, and protect against stress fractures.

What to do: Watch the video below to see how it’s done.


Other warms you can do include squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and maybe a few push ups if you feel up to it.

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Stationary Bike Workout Plans for Beginners

1. Interval training

One of the best ways you can exercise using a recumbent bike is through interval training. These cardio exercises involve alternating between periods of intense workouts and ‘rest’.

When I talk of rest, I don’t mean you put your legs up. What I mean by rest is active rest. This is the type of rest where you keep working out but at a slower pace.

Here is a quick look at best recumbent bike workouts for beginners (assuming your bike has setting for 8 resistance levels). Here is a good workout plan.

Intensity Duration (Minutes) Resistance Settings
This is an extension of your warm up exercises. 4 2
You are exercising harder and faster than earlier. 3 5
This is your first active rest. Keep pedaling. 2 2
Your heartbeat is up, and you start to sweat a little. You can still talk. 3 5
Second active rest. 1 3
You are breathless, sweaty, and can’t talk. 5 6
Cool down. 2 2
Your total time 20

Once you can comfortably do the 20 minutes without breaking a sweat (this will take around 2 weeks of consistent exercises), it’s time to take things a notch higher. You will add 10 minutes to your previous 20-minute routine. Here’s how to do it.

Intensity Duration (Minutes) Resistance settings
Warm Up 3 3
Heart rate up 7 7
First active rest 2 2
A little sweaty. Can still converse. 5 8
Second active rest 2 3
Very sweaty, can’t converse. Flabby thighs, bye! 7 7
Cool down 3 2
Your total time 30

Once your body becomes accustomed to the exercise above, you can start endurance training and resistance building.

You can do this by increasing the resistance levels on your bike if your bike’s resistance level can go up to 16. Alternatively, you can add upper body strength training exercises.

2. Cycling and dumbbells (for upper body and lower body toning)

You can add strength training by including a pair of dumbbells to your pedal exercising routine. You’ll also need the best pedal exerciser for this.

If you don’t have dumbbells, then get a pair. Don’t go for the cheapest, and don’t pick the wrong size.

If the heaviest item you have lifted in your life is a bottle of water, I recommend that you go for hex-shaped dumbbells weighing from 3-10 lbs for ladies and 5-12 lbs for gents. These weights are ideal for beginners.

Here’s how you can incorporate strength training to your routine:

Intensity Duration (Minutes) Resistance Settings Dumbbell Usage Exercises
Heart rate up 7 7 No
1st active rest 2 2 Yes Upright rows
A little sweaty 4 8 No
2nd active rest 2 3 Yes Seated overhead dumbbell press
Sweating profusely 9 7 No
Cool down 3 2 No
Your total time 30

More: Here are the best exercise bikes with screen that enable you to access online workout classes and videos

Benefits of Recumbent Bike

Here are some awesome benefits of pedaling.

1. Safety

There are two ways your bike keeps you safe. One, its seat is closer to the ground. This means that it has a lower center of gravity which makes it more balanced compared to an upright bike. If you fall by accident, you’ll less likely get hurt, unlike someone falling from an upright bike.

Secondly, you get to exercise from the comfort of your home. If you are a lady, you know how important it is to feel and be safe while exercising, and this is exactly what your recumbent bike offers you. Plus you don’t have to worry about the freezing weather, scorching sun, or pouring rain.

2. Comfort

A recumbent elliptical bike is one of the most comfortable bikes you will ever use. This stationary bike comes with a padded chair/seat that is as comfortable as a regular chair.

This feature makes recumbent bikes best for seniors, riders with disabilities, and people suffering from back pain. Another comfort feature is the pedals in front. Unlike upright bikes where the pedals are below the rider, a recumbent bike has its pedals on the front.

This ensures your feet remain comfortable throughout the exercise. These two comfort features allow riders to exercise on the recumbent bike longer than when exercising on an upright bike.

3.  Multitasking

I love multitasking! And this stationary bike is designed to allow you to do exactly that. Most recumbent bikes such as the FitDesk 2.0 come with a small table that allows you to work from your laptop or tablet, read a book or magazine, or knit as you exercise. How cool is that! This helps ward off boredom.

4. Speed

There is a common misconception that since recumbent bikes are comfortable, seat and all, they are the slowest. This is not true. Recumbent bikes used on the road are way faster than normal upright bikes because of aerodynamic fairing.

5. Targets specific muscles

A recumbent bike is known for targeting specific muscle groups. Working out with an exercise bike tones butt, legs, hamstrings, and quads. Prepare to add strength training to your workout routine if you want to really up your game. You can check these 11 benefits of pedal exerciser for further reading.

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Extra Tips for Beginners

1. Wear the right outfit.

Whether you’re exercising from home or at the gym, the first thing you ought to do is dress appropriately. Scientist have proven there is a correlation between dressing and success. If you want to succeed in your weight loss journey, then you have to dress accordingly.

So, what are the best clothes for cycling? We recommend you throw on tights that reach below your knees (three-quarter-length) and a tank top.

2. Use a chamois, and get the right shoes.

If you use regular tights while cycling, chances are after a few sessions your butt is going to get some saddle sores, and wearing tights with chamois is one way to prevent these painful sores from occurring.

Chamois (soft, flexible pad) helps protect all your sensitive areas against friction and sweat.

For shoes, running shoes are perfect because you can chip them into the pedals.

3. Understand your bike.

Now this is key. You should understand how your bike works. Before you begin your session, check the seat height. Next, sit down and check the distance between your seat and the handle bars.

Make sure you are not struggling to reach the handlebars.

Next, check the resistance settings. Most bikes have the resistance dial below the control panel. Speaking of the control panel, what does your bike display? What data does it show and store? Familiarize yourself with the settings.

Most recumbent bikes display time elapsed, calories burned, speed, and heart rate.

Next, check the pedals. Does your bike have built-in straps? These straps come in handy while pedaling. They will help you master the strokes.

If your bike does not have straps, consider moving to another bike, if you are at the gym. If you are exercising from home, consider getting clips or cages.

4. Nourish your body.

nutrition for beginner cyclists

Nutrition can be confusing to cyclists, especially beginners. Surely, you’ve come across self-proclaimed ‘gurus’ offering advice on what works or doesn’t.

What you need to realize is that some diets may work for some people but not for everyone.

It’s best to refer to a fitness coach or dietician. The first thing they’ll look into is your day-to-day consumption and daily activities before they’ll come up with a nutrition plan tailored to your needs.

If you don’t want or have no access to these health professionals, you can do it yourself. Start by checking your dietary requirements after considering your lifestyle and typical daily activity levels.

Create a list of the food you love. From this, come up with a meal plan. In your meal plan include lots of vegetables and fruits, foods rich in fiber and proteins, and substitute water to your usual caffeinated drinks or soda. Avoid sugary and deep fried foods. Yes, it’s your road to health!

Tip: If you want fitness machine that can work both your upper and lower body, consider the body rider dual bike

5. Focus on your strokes.

I’ve often found myself exercising with first timers. I have to say, pedaling a recumbent bike is not easy especially if you’ve used standard bikes your whole life, and I’ve noticed that most beginners do it wrong.

Here are a few tips that will help you master pedaling faster.

  • You need to concentrate on pulling up rather than pushing down.
  • Use cages, straps, or clips designed to keep your feet in place.
  • Keep your back straight by recruiting your abs to support your back.

6. Always cool down.

Once you’re done exercising on your recumbent bike, unclip your shoes, and do some cool down exercises. Try these for starters:

  • The camel and cat
  • Low lunges
  • Sitting gluteal stretch

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Final Thoughts

Were it not for recumbent bikes, seniors, people with back pain and joints pain, and professionals working from home would not get to work out their lower body safely, comfortably, and efficiently.

Were it not for stationary bikes, there would be no indoor cycling when the weather was bad outside.

Recumbent bikes are ideal for both pros and beginners. I hope you found our guide for the best recumbent bike workouts for beginners useful, and if you did, please feel free to share it with your family and friends! Let’s all pedal to good health!


1. Does recumbent bike burn belly fat?

Well, the good news is, yes, a recumbent bike will help you blast calories. The bad news is, it won’t help you build a six pack.

What a recumbent bike offers is aerobic exercise, which targets your butt, calf muscles, and thighs.

If you want to tone your stomach, you will have to include strength training exercises to your routine. Some great strength training exercises include lunge twists, crunches, and the stomach vacuum.

2. Is recumbent bike good for the knees?

If you suffer from knees or joint aches, your best and safest exercise machine is a recumbent bike.

The pedals of a recumbent bike are on the front of your feet (read more on which is better treadmill or recumbent bike ), so your ankles and hips won’t strain when pedaling. This bike is known for the low-impact exercise benefits you get from it.

3.  Is recumbent bike good for weight loss?

Just like a treadmill, a stationary bike is perfect for your weight loss journey.

Cycling has helped countless people lose weight. Remember, cycling helps tone your lower body, so you need to include some strength training exercises to tone your upper body.