Recumbent Bicycle Workouts

Recumbent Bicycle Workouts

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Different age groups can benefit from recumbent bicycle exercise.

Barry Austin/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A recumbent stationary bicycle provides an effective lower body and cardiovascular workout without impacting the knees, hips and other joints. Unlike an upright stationary bike, a recumbent bike has a bucket seat that lets you sit back as you pedal. Some models have many resistance levels that let you customize your workout. The handles at the sides of the seat usually have sensors that monitor your heart rate.

Correct Posture for Recumbent Bicycle

To benefit from a recumbent bicycle workout, you should sit with your feet forward and your back against the back of the bucket seat. Adjust the seat forward or backward so that your feet can comfortably reach the pedals as you sit back in the seat with your legs extended and your knees slightly bent. Your knees should be at or slightly above hip level at the top of the pedal stroke. Grasp the handles at the sides of the seat. This posture allows your leg muscles to work without stress to your knees and hips.

Cardiovascular and Fat-Burning Workouts

High-intensity interval training on a recumbent bicycle will help you burn calories and lose inches. After a five-minute warm-up at low resistance, pedal at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum capacity, or to the point of breathlessness, for 30 to 90 seconds, and then pedal slowly at low resistance for one to four minutes. Repeat the high-intensity and recovery intervals for 20 to 30 minutes. Though your leg muscles are doing the work, the calories you are burning will help you lose fat all over your body. Use the manual setting on the bicycle to increase resistance during high-intensity segments and decrease resistance during recovery segments. During the last five minutes of your workout, pedal slowly at low resistance.

Strength and Endurance Workouts

At higher resistance levels, a recumbent bicycle workout can help you strengthen and sculpt your leg muscles. Because of your position on the recumbent bike, the glutes, quadriceps and the muscles just below the glutes will get a good workout. After a five-minute warm-up at low resistance, use the manual setting on your bike to gradually increase resistance and decrease your pedal rate every two to five minutes for 15 minutes. You should feel a burn in your glutes as you increase resistance levels. Go back to low resistance and gradually increase resistance and decrease pedal rate again for another 15 minutes. Cool down for the last two to five minutes of your workout and set the resistance to low.

Workout Tips and Precautions

Talk to your doctor before you try a recumbent bicycle workout or any other new exercise program. To prevent injuries, you should warm up with light jogging or walking for five minutes before you begin your recumbent bicycle workout to gradually increase heart rate and muscle temperature. At the end of your session, cool down for five to 10 minutes with some leg stretches to prevent stiffness. You can use light dumbbells to add an upper body component to your workout. For example, you can do bicep curls or tricep extensions during high-intensity segments and rest the weights in your lap during recovery segments.