What Is a Recumbent Stationary Bike?


Two major types of stationary bikes are available for home and gym use: upright and recumbent. Upright bikes look like regular bicycles fixed in place, while recumbent bikes place the user into a lower, somewhat reclined position that some feel is more comfortable and easier on the body. Find out what recumbent bikes have to offer for your workout.


  • A recumbent stationary bike is a stationary bike that places the user into a "recumbent" or partially reclined position while riding. Upright stationary bikes simulate the physical position of riding a traditional bicycle, with the rider sitting up high above the pedals and holding onto handlebars out in front of the body. However, on a recumbent stationary bike, the user sits behind the pedals and much lower than on a typical stationary bike, usually while holding bars on each side of the bike seat.


  • Some people prefer to use recumbent stationary bikes because this design changes the angles of the body while riding, and is felt by some to be less stressful on the body while providing a workout similar in intensity to the upright stationary bike. The recumbent bike may put less strain on the back for those with less core strength, such as beginning exercisers. Recumbent stationary bikes are thought by some to be more relaxing and comfortable to ride, and are popular for home and gym use. You cannot stand on the pedals on a recumbent bike, unlike an upright bike, which makes simulated hill climbing somewhat harder.


  • There are a wide variety of recumbent stationary bikes available. Some are very basic, providing little more than a seat and pedals in the recumbent configuration. Other models provide varying levels of sophistication, including such features as computer displays and programmable resistance settings for interval workouts or hill climbs.


  • The typical recumbent stationary bike takes up somewhat more room than an upright stationary bike. Recumbent stationary bikes tend to be longer due to the seat position, which extends well behind the pedals. This issue may be a factor in purchasing a recumbent stationary bike for home use.


  • The physical advantages of riding a recumbent stationary bike versus an upright stationary bike are somewhat controversial. Cyclists who ride either type of bike on the road on a regular basis should probably match their home and gym workouts to their style of riding on the road to gain maximum benefit. However, for individuals just looking to burn calories and get a workout, a recumbent bike may be completely adequate if they find that physical position most comfortable. Whatever style of bike you choose to use at home or at the gym, adjust all its settings for seat height or distance and handlebars appropriately so that you don't injure or strain yourself during the workout. For all stationary bikes, fitting the bike to your body is critical to get an effective, pain-free workout.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by Flickr user TheNationalGuard. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/3393775092/
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