Recumbent Bike Workouts For Beginners

Whether you work out at home or in a gym, there are many different cardio machines to choose from. A lot of people want to know which one is best but, the reality is, that’s an impossible question to answer. 

Factors that will determine the best kind of workout include your fitness goals, your likes, and dislikes, and if you’re planning on buying a machine for home use, your budget, and how much space you’ve got available.

Ultimately, only you can decide what type of exercise is best. Ideally, it should be one you look forward to doing, and not one you dread. If you don’t enjoy your workout, it’s unlikely that you’ll stick with it. So even if one workout burns more calories or gets you fitter faster, that isn’t important if you won’t do it long or often enough for it to work its magic.

Once you’ve chosen your ideal exercise machine, it’s time to start using it. In this article, we reveal three recumbent bike workouts for beginners and discuss the advantages and benefits of this particular workout device.

That doesn’t mean that recumbent bikes are the best workout, but they’re undoubtedly worthy of your consideration.

Recumbent Bike Workouts for Beginners

How Long Should I Work Out on A Recumbent Bike?

Recumbent bike exercising

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and other fitness authorities, most adults should try to accumulate 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week.

That probably sounds daunting for a beginner but equates to just 30 minutes, five days per week.

One hundred fifty minutes per week will help improve your fitness, your health and control your weight.

It should be a very manageable target for most people. That said, for a beginner, 150 minutes per week and 30 minutes per session may be too much initially.

If you are new to working out, think of these numbers as long-term goals – they’re something to aspire to, not achieve immediately. Instead, start by doing five to ten minutes per workout, and using your recumbent bike just three times a week, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Add a minute or two per workout per week, and then, when you can do 20 minutes without stopping, increase the number of workouts by one per month. When you can do 20 minutes five times per week, shift your focus back onto workout duration, and start adding a minute per workout again.

It might take you several months, but you’ll slowly but gradually build-up to the recommended 150 minutes per week without overdoing it.

If you find that doing even a few minutes on your recumbent bike leaves you feeling tired, you may need to slow down or reduce the resistance level. You should be out of breath but still able to talk, albeit haltingly, for most of your workout. If you are unable to catch your breath, you are definitely working too hard.

Your heart rate should be 60% of your maximum, which you calculate like this: 220 – age (in years) x 0.60.

Can You Lose Weight on a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Using a recumbent could help you lose weight and keep it off too. Depending on how hard you work, an hour of cycling on a recumbent bike will burn anywhere from 300-600 calories. If you are eating less and have created a caloric deficit, these calories will come from stored body fat.

However, if you are still overeating, even an hour per day on your recumbent bike will just slow your rate of weight gain rather than cause any noticeable weight loss.

For that reason, you’ll get better results if you combine regular workouts on a recumbent bike with a sensible, sustainable diet. If you feel you need to do more than 150 minutes of cycling to lose weight, you are probably overeating.

Advantages and Benefits of Using a Recumbent Bike

Beginner senior on recumbent bike

As well as weight control and fitness, using a recumbent bike offers the following advantages and benefits:

An Effective Lower Body Workout

Cycling is good for your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. If you want a stronger, more toned lower body, using a recumbent can help.


Recumbent cycling puts very little stress on your joints, making it ideal for overweight and older exercisers. This is an excellent alternative to running and group exercise classes.

Fewer Saddle Sores

A lot of exercise bikes have narrow saddles, which can soon become uncomfortable. Recumbent bikes have much broader, more padded seats, so they won’t leave you feeling sore. With fewer butt aches and pains to worry about, you should have no problem sitting on your recumbent bike for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Back Support

Most recumbent bikes have L-shaped seats, which offer plenty of lumbar support and help keep you in a more upright posture. If you find regular exercise bikes cause lower back pain, a recumbent could be a good alternative.

Easy to Use

Recumbent bikes require no special techniques to use, and because the seat is considerably lower than for a standard exercise bike, they’re easy to get on and off. As such, there are ideal for beginners.

3 Easy Recumbent Bike Workouts

While you could just jump on your recumbent bike and start peddling, you will probably have a more enjoyable and effective workout if you follow a structured plan. Here are three recumbent workouts designed especially for beginners.

1. Gradual Climb

This simple workout replicates climbing a long but gradual hill. Start pedaling at a low level of resistance, such as 2-3. Increase the resistance by one each minute. Continue until you reach the top of your personal hill – the point at which you feel you are working as hard as you comfortably can. Then, decrease the level each minute until you are back where you started.

2. Slow, Medium, Fast

This workout lives up to its name! Pedal slowly for one minute at about 60 RPM (revolutions per minute). Speed up for the next minute to around 70 RPM. Finally, do one minute at 80 RPM. Drop back to 60 RPM and then repeat. Do the entire sequence six times to total 18 minutes.

3. Ten-Mile Time Trial

For this workout, pedal ten miles as quickly as you can while remaining reasonably comfortable. Do not exceed 80% of your maximum heart rate. Maintain 70-80 RPM, using your resistance levels like gears to avoid overtiring your legs.

Make a note of how long it takes you to cover the ten miles. Try and beat it next time. If ten miles is too far, feel free to do eight or even five miles instead.

Bottom Line

Recumbent bikes offer a great way to get fit and lose weight. They’re easy to learn, comfortable to use and provide your back with plenty of support. Because you won’t be perched on a narrow seat, you won’t have to worry about saddle sores either!

If recumbents have a downside, it is that you have to remain seated while you use them. Unlike an upright exercise bike, you can’t get up and stand on the pedals, which means you can’t train for sprints and hill climbs as you can on something like a spinning bike.

That said, if you want a workout machine that’s easy to get on and off and that won’t stress your joints, a recumbent bike could be a perfect choice.


Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

Fitness Equipment Reviews