What Muscles Does Recumbent Bikes Work?

Are you tired of searching for the most preferred gym equipment? With so many options such as treadmills, elliptical, rowing machines, recumbent bikes, upright bikes, or stationary bikes. Choosing from the many options can make it very difficult to know where you should begin.

Each piece of equipment offers something a little different. Depending on your personal preferences and willingness to challenge yourselves, any of these machines can offer tremendous benefits.

This article will provide you complete guide regarding how recumbent bikes benefit you and what muscles it works on.

What is a Recumbent Bike?

Cycling a recumbent bike offers you a great cardio workout that is smooth and easy on your body. Thus it is the choice of many fitness freaks. A recumbent Bike is a stationary exercise bike with a bucket seat and a backrest.

The pedals are situated in front of your body so that you remain in a horizontal position whenever you work out on the recumbent bike. This takes off additional pressure from your lower back and averts you from slouching which helps you to work out for a longer duration.

Difference Between the Recumbent and Upright Bikes

The two main types of exercise bikes are upright and recumbent bikes. The principle of both is the same; to mimic the movements you would do on a moveable bicycle. Pedaling a recumbent bike is similar to a regular bicycle or upright exercise bike, but it is set up a little differently.

In an upright bike, the seat is usually placed high up, as it would be on a regular bicycle, and it has a handlebar right in front of you. A recumbent bike’s seat is parallel or a little bit higher than its pedals, so you seat with your legs extended in front of you as you pedal.

Using a recumbent bike, you will burn the same amount of calories that you would with an upright bike, the only difference is that due to its seat arrangement, you will experience less back strain and will be more comfortable during your workout.

Muscles Used Recumbent Bike vs Upright

Recumbent Exercise Bike

Recumbent bikes trim almost every muscle of the body. It is mostly used for cardiovascular exercises thus targeting the most important muscle of our body that is the heart. Cycling being an aerobic exercise improves circulation, enhances muscle strength, endurance, and stamina.

It is ideal support for weight loss. One of the best sides of the recumbent bike is that you can choose which specific area you want to work out. However recumbent bikes first target the lower part of the body and then the upper part.

Talking of the muscles used in an upright bike, this bike directly impacts your legs, calves, and abdominal muscles. Having said that, an upright bike is ideal for people who want to prepare themselves for a race. Other than that, it also offers a whole-body workout as it engages muscles realistically and offers a real-world exercising experience.

Lower Part Muscles


These occupy the thigh front. They are the knee extensors. These muscles are constantly working while you cycle a recumbent bike.

Gluteal Muscles

Gluteal muscles are also known as ‘glutes’ serves in butt composition. This also includes your adductors and abductors, as well as your hip flexors.

Your thigh muscles connect directly to those in your hips and buttocks so when you are riding a recumbent bike, it helps tone muscles in those areas as well.


These are present at the back of the upper thighs, opposing muscle groups to your quadriceps. Their function is to flex the knees and allow your knee to bend during a pedal cycle.

Calf Muscles

These muscles are present at the lower back of the legs, below the knees. While riding a recumbent bike, these are the most targeted muscles. You work on the main calf muscle named gastrocnemius while riding a recumbent bike.

It helps to lift your heel and extend your ankle so that you can pedal when the knee is straight. The soleus is a smaller calf muscle that also helps to lift the heel to cycle the bike when your knee is bent.

Upper Part Muscles of the Body


Well, here comes that “tricky” part of the body that has driven us all crazy! Of all the options we have tried to tone our abs, recumbent bike exercise is the most suggested one which has made the work out super easy.

The primary purpose of the bucket seat is to make your abdominal involved in the workout. If you try adjusting the angle of the legs near to the pedal, you can notice that the abdomen is getting involved in the workout even more by pushing the pedals harder than before.

Arms Muscles

A recumbent bike works out on the biceps and triceps muscles of the arms. The biceps help to pull the handle towards the body and the triceps helps to push it away from the body.

Back Muscles

The muscles on the upper part of your body are also working while riding the recumbent bike but quite less in comparison to legs, thighs, calves, and buttocks. It helps to maintain your position and support your spine.

Workout Effectiveness

Recumbent bikes may seem like easy cardio, but we all know appearances are always deceptive. According to research recumbent bikes can provide a serious workout.

A study shows that healthy older women improved their muscle strength, power, and functional abilities after using the bike for just two months.

Some Last Words

While racing stationary bikes require the user to cycle in an upright posture, a recumbent bike places the cyclist in an easier, reclined position so they can lean back onto a pad with their feet extended towards peddling.

This position relieves pressure on the hips, knees, and ankles, and diminishes strain on postural muscles. Because of this, recumbent bikes are often recommended for people who are overweight, pregnant, or suffer from lower back pain.

Recumbent biking is a non-weight-bearing exercise ideal for cardio programs seeking to reduce the impact on the joints. As you are well-aware now what muscles do a recumbent bike works. I hope you can easily decide whether you should buy one or not.


What muscles are used on a recumbent bike?

Recumbent bikes are good for almost whole body muscles. Some of the muscles that a recumbent bike directly uses are the quadriceps, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, calf muscles in the lower parts muscles. While in upper muscles it focuses on abdominals, arms muscles, and back muscles.

Can you get a good workout on a recumbent bike?

A recumbent bike is a good workout for all age people. Especially for the elderly recumbent bike provides a comfortable and easy workout. It also provides a safe and low impact workout for all individuals.

Can you build muscle on a recumbent bike?

The preset program of a recumbent bike includes cardio, muscle building, interval training, fat burning, and hills. If your goal is to build muscles a stationary recumbent bike will be good for you. It helps you in bulging gluteal and quadriceps muscles.

Are recumbent bikes better than upright?

A recumbent bike is more comfortable than an upright. A recumbent bike, the backrest is slightly reclined and seats are larger to provide more back support. Moreover, the pedal position is on the front side of the body, making it a more comfortable ride.

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Chris Herry has a Master’s Degree in Sports Science and has worked for fitness brands. He is offering his services as a Personal Trainer. Every week he writes blogs about fitness equipment, programs, and nutrition advice for weight loss.

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