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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!