Recumbent Bike Vs Upright Bike: Which One Is Best For You?

recumbent bike vs upright bike

Biking or cycling is one of the best cardio workouts you can get. It is the perfect activity for those who are trying to lose some weight because a high-intensity session can burn as much as 400 calories per hour. If you are the outdoors type of person, it is the perfect exercise routine for you as you can just pedal your way to fitness while enjoying the en route scenery. Even if you don’t love going outdoors that much, you can still reap the health benefits of cycling right at your home by using a stationary bike.

Stationary bikes are so popular and effective cardio exercise equipment that you’ll likely find one in any gym. These days, there are two types of bikes available on the market which lead to the recumbent bike vs upright bike conversation you’ll likely hear from gym goers. But as a tool in your journey toward health, which type of bike is best for you?

Recumbent Bike Vs Upright Bike: Comparing The Two Exercise Machines

Every intelligent shopper knows that some research is needed to get the best product out there. As such, doing some recumbent bike vs upright bike comparison is necessary before heading out to your favorite exercise equipment store. Understanding the differences between the two will help you determine which is the best option for you.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Recumbent Bikes

In a recumbent bike, you’ll be seated more comfortably since you will be reclining a bit supported by a larger, more comfortable seat with lower back support. The pedals are located in front of you so you won’t be able to stand on them unlike in a regular outdoor bike.

best recumbent bike

Pros:

  • Ideal for those with lower back issues – Compared to your sitting position in an upright bike where you hunch over the handlebar, you will be in a slightly reclining sitting position when using a recumbent bike, a position that most users find more comfortable. It also does not strain your lower back that much which is why the recumbent is a better option for those with lower back pains.
  • More comfortable seat – Recumbent exercise bikes have larger seats compared to upright bikes counterparts. This comfort level makes this type of bike better suited to those who want longer cycling workouts. 
  • Gentle on all your joints – Aside from being more comfortable, the bike’s larger bucket seat also lends support to your lower back during the session. The bike is also a great choice if you want a cardio that has a low impact on your knees and ankles.
  • You can last longer in a recumbent bike – Being more comfortable compared to an upright bike, you will likely last longer in your cycling routine when using this type of equipment.
  • Ideal for people with poor balance – It is easier to maintain your balance in a recumbent exercise bike due to its larger bucket seat which supports your back while your reclining sitting position has a lower center of gravity. In fact, most users will be able to use the bike even hands-free.
  • Safer operation – You just can’t stand on its pedals while cycling. That means there is absolutely no risk of injuries from such stunt, which is possible to do in an upright bike.
  • Targets your glute muscles – The equipment is designed to target your glutes.

Cons:

  • More expensive – Generally, recumbent exercise bikes are more expensive compared to upright ones.
  • Takes up more floor area – If space is a very serious consideration at your home due to its limited floor area, this type of bike might not be the best option as it takes up more space compared to an upright bike.
  • Burns fewer calories – Since you are more relaxed in a recumbent exercise bike, the calories you burn is a little lower compared to a workout of the same duration using an upright.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Upright Bikes

In an upright exercise bike, you’ll be sitting in an upright position or lean forward a bit to hold to the handlebars just like you would in an outdoor bike. The pedals are directly under you so you can even stand up to pedal more vigorously just as you would do in an ordinary bike when you want to increase your speed.

upright bike

Pros:

  • Takes up lesser space – This is ideal if your home has a very limited space for your exercise equipment.
  • You will burn more calories – You’ll burn more calories in an upright bike compared to a cycling workout of the same duration but done on a recumbent.
  • You’ll get the same workout as that of an outdoor bike – You are positioned in the same way as you would in an actual outdoor bike with wheels. Thus, your cardio workout is more complete and involves the same set of muscles as the real deal.
  • Usually cheaper – Upright exercise bikes are generally more affordable compared to recumbent models. And they have more models too.
  • Targets your glute muscles and more – The equipment is good for targeting your glute muscles. Since you are in an reclined position, you will also be able to work on your abdominal muscles as well as your upper body and arms as you try to maintain your balance while pedaling. 

Cons:

  • Not the best option for people with poor balance – You’ll need to exert more effort just to keep your balance in an upright bike.
  • Cycling workout might tire out some users faster – Since you’ll be getting more intense workouts in an upright bike, it is possible that you might tire out earlier than planned.

Final Thoughts:

Back to the recumbent bike vs upright bike question, which bike should you choose? The correct answer will, of course, ultimately depend on you after taking into account your specific needs and preferences.

If comfort is very important to you, it would make sense for you to choose the recumbent bike. You can just make up for the lesser cardio intensity level by doing a slightly longer cycling session to get the same result as that of an upright bike. A recumbent is also ideal for those with back issues as well.

On the other hand, if comfort is not too big of an issue for you and you want to target more muscle groups in your cycling workout, then an upright stationary bike is the perfect choice as of the moment.

About the Author

Personal trainer and Author from Needham, MA

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