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Last Updated on February 8, 2021

9 Tips to Make The Most of Your Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout

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9 Tips to Make The Most of Your Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout

Cycling on a recumbent exercise bike on a regular basis is an effective way to lose weight and get in better shape. Using one of these machines is safe, comfortable, and doesn’t place undue stress on your knees, hips, or lower back.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of people using recumbent bikes inefficiently, sometimes even plain old incorrectly. And while everyone is naturally allowed to do their own thing at the gym, I wanted to share a few of the tops tips I’ve learned from years of using a recumbent exercise bike on a near daily basis.

Take the following tips to heart to make the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout to lose weight and gain muscle more efficiently.

1. Adjust Your Seat

No doubt about it, the most common recumbent exercise bike error I see people make is failing to adjust the machine’s seat. Adjusting your bike’s seat literally takes seconds. Not only does it make things more comfortable, it also increases the effectiveness of your workout. Adjust your seat (by sliding it forward or backward) until your extended leg has a slight bend when on the far side of the pedaling cycle.

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2. Stretch It Out

Riding a recumbent exercise bike is like any other type of exercise – you need to be properly stretched out before beginning.

I’m a huge fan of dynamic stretching (moving while you stretch). The benefits of dynamic stretching are numerous, namely it warms up your muscles and improves their range of motion. Spend 5 minutes or so performing stretches such as lunges, toe touches, leg swings, and trunk rotations to get fully stretched out.

Check out Greatist’s full-body dynamic warm-up routine for ideas.

3. Warm Up on The Cycle

Never jump right into a workout. After you’re all stretched out, spend an additional 5 minutes pedaling lightly on your recumbent exercise bike. Personally, I start out slowly at a steady pace. I gradually pick up speed for roughly 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, I like to stand up, stretch again briefly, and then get back in the seat for a real workout.

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Warming up is important because it loosens up your muscles and increases your core body temperature before your workout begins.

4. Maintain Proper Form

Proper form is critical when riding your recumbent exercise bike. Not only does it help to prevent injury, it also helps you burn even more calories. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to lean forward. Keep your back aligned with and tight against the back of the seat. It’s okay to hold the handles at the sides of the seat during intense periods of cycling.

5. Select The Right Resistance

Many beginners to recumbent bikes have no clue which resistance to select. In fact, it’s all too common for people to set the resistance too high. Riding a recumbent exercise bike is like any other form of exercise. You don’t want to go all in right away. Select a comfortable resistance as you learn to use the bike. The higher the resistance, the more difficult it is to pedal. Naturally, this means your leg muscles are getting a better strength training workout. Yet you want to make sure that you can pedal fast enough to get your heart rate up as well.

I recommend adjusting the resistance multiple times during your workout. Pedal for periods with high resistance and switch them up with periods of low resistance to get the best overall workout.

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In addition, if you want to train your body up, consider training with a resistance band. Grab this free resistance band workout plan 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge and try!

6. Try Interval Training

Just getting on a recumbent bike and pedaling is a great start. Yet, interval training is the key to unlocking the most health benefits possible. I’ve found interval training to be the most effective method of using my recumbent exercise bike – and studies, like this one from the American College of Sports Medicine, back me up.

The key to interval training is mixing short yet very intense bursts of pedaling with longer and much mellower periods of light pedaling. As I mentioned above, you can incorporate resistance changes into your interval training workout for even more intensity.

7. Select The Right Duration

The key to getting the most benefits from riding your recumbent exercise bike is pedaling for long enough. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio per day. They go on to state that 60 to 90 minutes of cardio per day (5 days per week) is best for weight loss.

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8. Visit A Gym

There are 2 benefits of visiting a gym to ride a recumbent exercise bike.

First, exercising with other people around provides huge motivation. I know I always pedal harder when people are watching me. There’s also the opportunity to join a cycling class. Testing out a recumbent exercise bike at the gym lets you get a feel for this particular type of exercise. These bikes are expensive and you don’t want to invest in one for your home unless you’re sure it’s right for you.

If you do decide to buy one, my post on the top 5 recumbent exercise bikes is for you.

9. Keep Busy While Cycling

My personal favorite tip on making the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout is to stay busy while you’re cycling. Unless I’m doing an intense interval training workout, I like to read a magazine or look through my phone while cycling. It makes the time go by so much faster! Some people I know even answer emails on their computer during their workout.

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So there you have it – 9 of the top tips on how to make the most of your recumbent exercise bike workout. Are you already a fan of recumbent bikes? Do you have any other tips to add? Let me know in the comments below (I’m always looking to take my workout to the next level) and be sure to share this article if you found it helpful!

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Last Updated on October 4, 2021

5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

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5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

With the lines of work and home becoming increasingly blurry, it’s no wonder why we struggle to find the time to prioritize our health. Particularly with weight loss, it’s often difficult to manage the ever-present constraints around work, children, time to exercise, and the feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day.

Taking the effects of stress and the rise of remote work and work-from-home situations, we need to be far more tactical in our weight loss pursuits. Quite often, these exercises for weight loss at home aren’t even fitness-related.

Firstly, let’s look at a standard day in the life of a busy professional or parent to really understand the battlefield in which we need to operate.

We all have 24 hours in a day to work with. Knowing how we spend that 24 hours is crucial when learning where time will be best spent for our weight loss journey. Setting unrealistic expectations can be a quick way to end up back at square one.

  • Sleep: 8 hours (parents, if you’re lucky)
  • Work: 8 hours (sometimes more)
  • Children: 2 to 4 hours (includes pickups, drop-offs, and play)
  • Meal Preparation: 1 hour (at a minimum)
  • Household Activities: 1 to 2 hours (because someone’s got to do it, right?)
  • Total: 20 to 22 hours

Taking into account that switching between tasks takes time and cognitive space, we can start to understand why people just want to sit and scroll through social media at the end of a day. We also haven’t factored in the work commute if you have to report to the office.

Just realized you now have minimal time to yourself? This might start to explain why you struggle to gain momentum in your weight loss journey. Let’s work out how to take back the initiative:

  • Automate – Are there any tasks you can automate? If you’re fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, maybe it’s time to hire a cleaner or have ready-made meals delivered to your door. It doesn’t have to happen every night, but removing the decision of “what’s for dinner?” can be a great way to reduce stress and free up brain space and time.
  • Optimize – If you’re time-poor with kids, it’s time to optimize your activities. Turn screen time into playtime outdoors, and get them to join in on your activities. If your children are old enough, it might be time to start offering pocket money for chores and meal preparation. This strategy helped me stay fit as a single parent. By getting out and active with my son, I doubled my return on investment by staying fit and enhancing my relationship.
  • Eliminate – We’re only human. Sometimes, we simply have too much on our plate due to our high expectations. Take a look through your daily tasks and work out what can be removed.

Now, go through this exercise yourself. What potential spare time do you have to work with? If the answer is none, you might want to keep reading.

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Exercise Selection: It’s Not All About the Burn

No equipment? No problem.

So, we’re finally tracking the elements that matter. It’s time to start leveraging exercise to accelerate our weight loss journey. Alongside focusing on individual exercises that help with weight loss at home or caloric expenditure, we’re going to focus on another method to help keep you consistent and accountable for the long term: interest.

Interest has been linked as one of the key motivating factors to maintain consistency towards a goal. By choosing a form of exercise that your body and mind can enjoy, your chances of weight loss success are far greater.

Here’re the 5 best exercises for weight loss at home:

1. Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

Maybe the body isn’t what it used to be, and intense forms of training simply just aren’t safe anymore. Also considering the body’s response to stress, it might be in our very best interest to choose low-intensity activities that we can repeat daily.

Mobility and movement flows have risen in popularity in recent years. This form of exercise focuses on restoring range of motion (ROM), improving stability, and returning people to activity. Some exercise options include:

  • Quadruped Rocks
  • Frog Stretch
  • Hip Prying
  • Scapula Push-ups
  • Hindu push-ups

Below is a 10minute warm-up flow that shows you how to put all of this together:

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2. Yoga

Yoga is another perfect example of LIIT methodology that can be advanced as your ability improves. Focusing on mobility, stability, and range of movement using only your body weight, it’s a perfect entry-level activity for those that may have lost their way on their weight loss journey.

3. Calisthenics

Strength training at home can be difficult when you lack equipment or experience. An obvious path to building strength at home is calisthenics. Starting with just the following basic bodyweight movements:

You can begin your journey with no equipment and build to quite an advanced level. Here are five movements you can look to master over time are:

Depending on your ability, choose movements that allow you to progress safely over time. There is also gymnastics-based training you can move towards if your body is ready for a more demanding form of training.

4. Aerobic Exercise

Another underrepresented form of exercise, aerobic exercise is often overlooked for its sexier counterparts like strength and HIIT. With the prevalence of obesity nearly tripling between 1975 and 2016 and the major cause in adults being cardiovascular disease, it makes sense to focus on activities that improve cardiovascular or heart health.

Another benefit is that it can be as simple as getting your steps in, going for a swim, or going for an easy ride or run. Phil Maffetone pioneered the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method that almost anyone can adopt regardless of fitness level and experience.[1]

Here’s a 30-minute session of aerobic exercises you can try:

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5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training is a great way to elevate the heart rate and get the endorphins flowing. It can also be super time-effective, giving you a great bang for your buck. Try sequencing some of the movements and exercises above together with minimal rest to keep your heart rate elevated. Be sure to select movements that suit your current level of fitness and ability.

Here’s a HIIT workout that takes little time and is suited for any level:

Chipper 60

Complete all reps of every exercise for time. Exercises can be done in any order and repetitions to complete the workout.

If you can’t do jump squats, regress to normal squats, and don’t be afraid to change the leg raises to a 60-second plank if you need to. Finish up with some light stretching or foam rolling.

What Also Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Stimulants

Sleep, stress, and stimulants, also known as the hamster wheel of death. Tracking these elements gives us the power to finally stop relying on our ever-depleted stores of discipline and motivation to get the job done. It will also highlight the self-destructive habits that sabotage your weight loss journey.

Simply put, stress affects stimulants, sleep affects stress, and the vicious cycle continues.

Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? It’s well documented that sleep is an important factor in weight loss and recovery.

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“Restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.”[2]

Start this journey by tracking how much sleep you’re getting. Certain wearables can also track the amount of movement and time you spend awake or in lighter sleep cycles. Getting enough time in REM or deep sleep is critical for weight loss.

Stress

We don’t need to be fancy. A simple daily measurement out of ten indicates how much stress we think we are under. Using this number, we can observe the effects that sleep, stimulants, and exercise have on our stress levels, allowing us to deploy the right strategy for our weight loss goals.

Stimulants

Stimulants can be classified as anything we put in our mouths. Tracking calories, alcohol, and caffeine is a great way to observe, predict, and avoid trends or at-risk periods of overeating and destructive behaviors. Tracking this is aligned with how well we sleep, and our stress response gives us enough information to start forming better weight loss habits.

Work to identify the trigger, observe the response, and then look to adjust.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re fighting fit or returning to activity, the best exercises for weight loss at home are the ones that you can do day in day out that you enjoy. Think of exercise for weight loss as we do for compound interest. Consistently and regularly making deposits may not show immediately, but with time, they give you the momentum you need to reach your goals.

Featured photo credit: Olivia Bauso via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] PhilMaffetone: Maximum Aerobic Function
[2] SleepFoundation.org: Why is sleep so important to weight loss?

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