Should I buy a recumbent or upright exercise bike? Which is better for losing weight? What offers a better workout to tone the buttocks? And for the other muscles, what is the best option for knee rehabilitation? Is the recumbent bike better for back problems? To help you make the right choice, read our comparison. Try to find out what the differences are between recumbent and upright exercise bikes.
Recumbent or vertical exercise bike to lose weight
The recumbent bike also called the recumbent or recumbent bike. The upright exercise bike offers efficient cardiovascular training to burn calories and fat. The main benefit of both cardiovascular machines is that you can easily change the intensity of your training.
Which burns the most calories: the recumbent bike or the upright bike?
You will burn approximately 20% fewer calories on the recumbent bike than on the upright exercise bike. The reason is simple. Exercising on a recumbent bike is less demanding because of the sitting position. It makes more difficult to increase your heart rate as much as on a vertical bike.
As you can see from the comparison table above, the calories burned to depend on the intensity and duration of the workout. For example, you will burn about 640 kilocalories in one hour of intensive training on a recumbent bike. And 800 kilocalories on an exercise bike. But if you exercise at low intensity, you will only burn 320 kilocalories on your recumbent bike in one hour.
Is the upright exercise bike better and more effective than the recumbent bike for weight loss?
The position on the recumbent bike is more comfortable and less demanding. You sit on it as in a normal chair, which reduces body fatigue and possible muscle pain. If you want to burn the same amount of calories on your reclining bike, you will have to pedal longer. But as long as you train in the aerobic zone, the area where your body burns fat for energy you will lose weight with either of the two cardiovascular machines. Exercise is recommended for at least 30 minutes. But you can pedal for 45 minutes, 1 hour, or even 2 hours if you want to burn more fat.
But the exercise bike has another advantage over the recumbent bike. On the upright bike, you can do HIIT (high-intensity interval training) routines. HIIT is a cardiovascular workout that alternates between phases of intensive exercise. It happens during which you pedal very fast or with high resistance and recovery phases (low-intensity intervals). This workout is extremely demanding and allows you to burn a lot of calories in a very short period of time. Although it is theoretically possible to do a HIIT workout on a recumbent bike, it is not adapted to it.
If your main goal is to lose weight, then the exercise bike is probably a better option for you. You’ll burn more calories than on the recumbent bike, and you can easily integrate prolonged cardio workouts of 1 hour or more into your workout plan, as well as short HIIT (interval) 20-minute workouts.
Upright exercise bike vs. recumbent bike: Which muscles work?
The two fitness machines, the vertical exercise bike, and the recumbent exercise bike exercise the most important muscle: the heart!
Both are cardiovascular machines and not strength machines. Thus, they will help you tone and define your muscles, but they will not actually inflate as bodybuilding or weightlifting would.
Both will help you strengthen your legs, thighs, and glutes. This is very important if you want to lose weight because you want to tone your body at the same time.
What muscles does a recumbent bike work that a vertical exercise bike also works?
The muscles to which the recumbent bike and the stationary bike are directed are the muscles of the lower body:
– Quadriceps and hamstring muscles, muscles of the front and rear of the thigh, constantly work while pedaling.
– the gluteal muscles (large, medium, and small buttocks), are also exercised when you press the pedals.
– the calf muscles, called the triceps surae, located on the back of the leg, are used when you exercise on the bike.
What muscles does an exercise bike work that a recumbent bike does not work?
On the recumbent bike, you are horizontal or reclined and your upper body muscles are not used. In contrast, the vertical exercise bike works the following muscles of the upper body:
– The abdominal muscles ensure the posture and balance of the pelvis and spine.
– the muscles of the back, the muscle of the lumbar square, and the iliopsoas help maintain the position and support the spine.
– The biceps and triceps, the muscles of the front and back of the arms, are used to hold the handlebar. The arm muscles work harder when the handlebar is squeezed, especially in a sprint race, or when it comes off the saddle with high resistance.
When you’re pedaling out of the saddle with high resistance, you put more pressure on your arm muscles (biceps and triceps) and your lower back muscles, while your thigh muscles (quadriceps) and the glutes work less because you are using the weight of your whole body to pedal and therefore your legs have less effort to provide.
The upright bike clearly exercises more muscle groups than the recumbent bike.
The advantage of the vertical exercise bike over the recumbent exercise bike is that it works for more muscle groups. The upright bike also works the muscles of the arms, back, and abs, while the recumbent bike essentially works the muscles of the lower body. If your goal is to strengthen the legs or tone the buttocks, then both bikes are suitable.
Upright or recumbent bicycle for knee rehabilitation or for back problems?
Unlike training on other fitness equipment such as rowing, movements on recumbent bikes and exercise bikes are consistent, smooth, and joint-safe.
The recumbent exercise bike exerts less pressure on the knee than the vertical exercise bike, especially on the anterior cruciate ligament 1, due to its recumbent position, making it very good for the knees and for rehabilitation after a cruciate ligament injury previous. For other knee problems or injuries, both upright and recumbent bikes are suitable for knee rehabilitation: there is a slight increase in the knee extension angle in the upright cycling position, but not in the ankle angle between upright and reclining position, as suggested in this study 2. However, you should always ask your doctor which exercise suits you, with what intensity and what movements to avoid.
The recumbent bike is also better for back pain, especially for low back pain than the upright bike. Thanks to its comfortable sitting position and back support, the recumbent bike is best for people with low back problems. On the upright bike, you need to make sure the saddle is at the correct height and maintain a straight posture to avoid back pain (see how to have a good position on your exercise bike in our exercise bike tips).
The recumbent bike is generally more suitable for older or taller people and people with back or knee problems than the upright bike.
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