Recumbent Bike Exercise Programs & Tips
If you’re an avid cardio bunny, then you’ve probably never seriously considered using a recumbent bike. They probably don’t seem quite as hardcore as group cycle class or running. However, if you’ve ever seriously injured yourself then you know that you’re severely limited to the type of exercises you can do and the recumbent bike is the perfect place to turn. Not only does this bike offer a low-impact workout, but it will also allow you to get back in shape or continue to work out like before, so there’s no fear of muscle loss or weight gain.
In fact, you can even create your own recumbent bike exercise program and push yourself through some seriously tough workouts that are designed to sculpt your legs and burn fat like you wouldn’t believe.
Working Out on a Recumbent Bike
A recumbent bike is a type of cardiovascular equipment that allows the rider to sit with their feet forward and their back relaxed against a padded backrest, as opposed to an upright strationary bike which is similar to a traditional bike. From a rehabbing perspective, it can be very advantageous to use a recumbent because it takes the pressure of the lower body and the joints. The recumbent is often recommended by physical therapists and doctors to patients whose joint condition requires them to perform regular non-weight bearing exercises.
Did you know? Working out on a recumbent will load the quadriceps and glutes, paying special attention to the area below the glutes. For women, this area of the body often stores fat and it’s also one of the first places that takes on cellulite as you age. The best part about working out on a recumbent bike is that it works to burn fat all over the body, while at the same time provides a localized burn in the thighs and calves.
Traditional fat burning exercises done using a HIIT or high-intensity interval training program, create a calorically and hormonally favorable environment to shed weight, while pedaling using a heavy level of resistance will work to generate an effect that’s similar to that of weight lifting, which is why following a regular recumbent workout works so well to shape the legs. If the speed and resistance combinations are enough to elicit an intense acid burn in the glutes and legs, the result is a leg sculpting and fat burning effect.
Over ninety percent of people who work out do so to lose weight. Most women will point to the thigh and hip areas as their main concern and have a goal of getting rid of localized fat. Fortunately, since this type of bike will work only the lower body, the rider can channel all of their efforts to the glutes and legs in order to create more powerful pedal strokes.
Studies on Recumbent Workout Effectiveness
Recent studies have shown that HIIT workouts burn more fat than a low-intensity aerobic workout. The study used individuals who weren’t used to any type of rigorous workout and required them to participate in three HIIT workouts a week for a period of two months. Each of these workouts was sixty minutes in length. Another controlled study also used beginner level participants and required them to work out three times a week on a recumbent, with sessions that were only forty-five minutes in length.
The results are pretty shocking and more than encouraging when it comes to the type of results you can expect from regularly using your recumbent exercise bike.
The recumbent users ended up losing approximately ten percent more body fat compared to the HIIT participants. This means that even though the recumbent focuses on working out the lower body only, participants are able to work out harder and burn more fat with shorter workouts.
Recumbent Bike Workout Examples
Did you know you can maximize your recumbent bike workout by using the same type of high-intensity interval training times like a HIIT cardio workout?
For a traditional HIIT workout on your bike, begin by pedaling as fast as possible, moving the legs slowly during the resting period in order to recover and be able to generate as much power for the next segment of the workout. You’ll shoot for pedaling as fast and as hard as you can for three to four minutes, followed by smooth, slow pedaling for one minute for your rest and recovery time. At all costs, avoid pedaling fast during your recovery time. A fat burning effect will generate with a large differential between resting and working. Keep in mind, this type of workout isn’t about duration, but intensity.
Pro Tip: Try a twenty-five-minute work using HIIT. This type of workout is designed to make the rider work a little harder by including an upper body component. Use a light set of dumbbells, ranging from eight to ten pounds when you’re warming up on the bike. You’ll also use intervals during this workout, however, in addition to pushing hard with your legs, you’ll also use the dumbbells to perform an upper body workout at the same time. By using more muscle groups you’ll not only challenge your aerobic capacity but your muscular endurance as well.
How to improve Leg Shape and Muscular Endurance
Another approach that’s really useful when working out on a recumbent bike is to use a home workout that causes more of a muscular burn in the lower body. These types of workouts are often long and will mainly focus on deep aching, slow quad and glute exercises. You can ride at a harder intensity and add some heavy leg weights for some serious pain. Do this at the end of your usual leg day weight lifting workout or use it as a lighter weight training alternative.
If you’re physically up to it, try a regular HIIT cardio workout routine two to three times a week. These workouts should be no longer than sixty minutes and no shorter than thirty minutes. After you’ve finished your cardio, hit the bike for twenty to thirty minutes. This type of well-rounded cardio program will seriously take some weight off and whip your entire body into shape in a matter of weeks.