Recumbent Bikes Vs. Spin Bikes: Which One Is Best For You?

Author: Kier

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Whether you’re looking to exercise cycling or workout out at home, choosing the right fitness equipment will massively up your intense workout game, but which is better, spin or recumbent bikes?

Well, it is all down to what you’re looking to work out.

Many people don’t realize the steps they need to take when completing their exercise session to get better results, so educating yourself on the equipment you’re using is key for a good workout.

You may find yourself being faced with recumbent bikes, upright bikes, and spin bikes. Both have benefits and drawbacks, but working out the right one for you will transform your indoor cycling experience.

But no need to panic.

I have broken down all the benefits of these stationary bikes to make things easier for you. The calories burned, what kind of muscles each exercise bike works, and which is right for you.

We will find the one that will allow you to push that extra mile, that extra minute, those extra calories, and build your muscle as you go.

Let’s break it all down!

Which is better, a spin bike or a recumbent bike?

It’s not as easy as saying which one is better, so we will break it down into categories: Sprint Capabilities, Calorie Burning Benefits, Variability, Muscles Worked, Price, Riding Position, and Programmability.

Sprint Capabilities:

Sprinting may not be part of your workout routine if you’re a beginner. High-intensity interval training may become part of your everyday workout routine as you progress and build your cardiovascular health and muscle.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) has been said to lead to maximum results, burn more calories, and allow people to reach their goals in every workout.

Spin Bikes:

Spin bikes are made for interval training; they mimic the feel of a road bike, allowing you to reach top speeds and go as intense as you’d like in your workout.

Spinning classes focus on alternating high and low periods, and these bikes are designed to take you from 0-60 in seconds.

Sprint training on spin bikes takes your results to a whole new level, and they are more prominent in spin bikes as they are built for this type of riding.

Spin bikes in fitness studio at the gym

Recumbent bikes:

You can still perform sprint training on a recumbent bike, but it may not be as intense as a spin bike. This is because you can never get to the top speed because of your position; if you go too fast, this bike will tend to ‘bounce.’

Raising the intensity on a recumbent bike is possible, but it is more tricky.

Muscles Worked:

If you’re looking for more of a full-body workout, then a spin bike is more beneficial than a recumbent bike. This is because spin bikes use upper body muscles rather than leg muscles that recumbent bikes utilize.

Here are the core muscles each bike works:

Spin bikes:

  • Core: Your body works out your core on a spin bike as it needs to stabilize and support your body throughout your workout. Plus, you tend to have periods of standing and sitting during a spin program. Recumbent bikes don’t tend to work the core as they have a backrest to support their back.
  • Upper body: You also tend to use your upper body to support yourself on the bike; lean forward and grip the handlebars to remain stable.
  • Back: While cycling on a spin bike, you must maintain a strong and stable spine, strengthening your back muscles.
  • Glutes: When working on spin bikes, you will feel your glutes working with every pump, especially through stand-up sprints, inclines, or increased resistance.
  • Quadriceps: Your quads are the main muscle utilized in spin workouts; it is the main muscle used when you pedal and climb hills; this will lead to strong, toned legs.
  • Hamstrings: Cycling, in general, will help to strengthen your hamstrings; every pedal stabilizes your joints and builds muscles.
  • Lower leg: Spin cycling will work your calves with every pedal stride and helps protect your ankles and feet while cycling and in everyday activities.

Recumbent Bikes:

recumbent bikes in a sterile looking room

Now recumbent bikes mainly focus on your leg muscles as you’re sitting down on a sit, in a reclined position and don’t require abdominal muscles and core muscles to keep your body upright:

  • Quadriceps: Your quads are the main muscle utilized in all cycling training; it is the main muscle used when you pedal; the longer you pedal, the harder you will work your quads.
  • Hamstrings: When your lower leg goes from a straight position to a bent position while using any exercise bike, you activate your hamstrings.
  • Glutes: These muscles come into play whenever your thigh moves behind your body. It is an extension, as every time your leg extends; your glutes engage as you push down on the pedals.
  • Lower leg: In a recumbent stationary bike, you will work the lower parts of your legs, mainly your calve muscles, called plantar flexion.

Which exercise bike burns more calories?

In terms of calories burned, spinning exercise bikes burn more calories and fat than recumbent exercise bikes. A spin bike can take fat burning up a notch because of these reasons:

  • Sprint training is the best way to burn fat; adding sprint training to your workout is important to achieve fat-burning goals. A spin bike offers more HIIT training than a recumbent exercise would.
  • A spin bike also allows you to stand while you cycle, whereas you need to remain seated in a recumbent. This adds a whole new element to your training as you work out more muscle groups in your upper body, which is a brilliant form of cardio.
  • By standing up while you’re riding, it uses more energy you’re using, beginners may not be able to stand upright away, but by combining spin with outdoor training, there is a chance to build and burn more calories in every workout.

Is a recumbent bike good for belly fat?

Using a recumbent will burn calories and allow you to lose weight all over your body, not just your stomach. A combination of cardio exercises (such as a recumbent bike) and abdominal strengthening muscles will strengthen your stomach muscles.


So what about variability? The variability between a recumbent bike and a spin bike is that spin exercise bikes allow you to stand while you cycle, while a recumbent stationary bike does not.

Both allow you to increase your speed and your resistance to the flywheel, so there isn’t much difference in variability.

The main advantage of a spin bike vs. a recumbent bike is the ability to stand and sit during more intense workouts. This does open a new door to your workouts and the variety of the programs you do, though.


In terms of programs, there are some key differences and some key similarities:

Recumbent bikes:

A recumbent stationary bike almost always comes with features like a console on the bike, which gives you a range of different program options. These could range from manual mode, fat burn mode, interval mode, or some workouts designed by that specific brand.

You can even design workouts for your option you can choose from, which is an excellent option. It can help add variety to your workout program and prevent you from getting bored while you work out; this also helps keep you motivated and achieve optimal results.

Spin bikes:

On the other hand, spin bikes don’t usually come with a console, so programming workouts is completely up to you. You must determine what you want to do and adjust the speed and tension accordingly.

But with spin bikes, it’s as easy as searching a YouTube video to find a workout that takes your fancy and then start cycling away. Those not experienced in training may see this as a drawback, but it is easier than you may think.

Differences in the Flywheel:

The key difference between spinning and recumbent bikes is their flywheel.

Spin Bikes:

Spin bikes have heavier flywheels, weighing up to 40 pounds in weight models like Sunny Pro and Marcy Club Revolution. Spinning requires a good amount of energy and effort and allows for more intense resistance.

The flywheel also depends on your cycle motions, which means that once you stop pedaling, the wheel will stop moving, and spin bikes will burn more calories within the same amount of time.

Recumbent bikes:

Recumbent bikes tend to have a lighter flywheel and often offer a lower-impact ride. A recumbent stationary bike may be better for beginners as heavier flywheels are challenging for newer riders and may cause injury.

Riding Position:

In terms of riding position, there is a massive difference between both models:

Spin Bikes:

Spin bikes allow for multi-positioning exercises to train on or off the seat. Spin bikes will train the lower and upper body as you need to stabilize your core while standing.

Cycling while you stand, has major benefits because it will engage every muscle in your body; this is brilliant for improving fitness, fat-blasting, and promoting weight loss.

Exercise bike with spinning wheels – woman biking

Recumbent bikes:

If you’re looking for comfort, a recumbent bike may be a better option because the seat is much wider and the seat comes with a backrest. Recumbent bikes are ergonomically shaped, allowing users to sit back and pedal away.

Recumbent models are a brilliant way to work the lower body, lose weight, and be better suited for elderly or obese people as they take your weight off your knees and reduce the chance of injury in your joints and knees.

Two people in a gym exercising on recumbent bikes


If you’re slightly concerned about the price, it is worth going for a spinning bike. They are usually much cheaper and will also last as long as a recumbent one.

Both models are designed to last for several decades with the right care; it is important to evaluate your needs, budget, and fitness levels before buying one.

So is a spin bike better than an exercise bike?

Regarding calorie burning and intense fitness, a spin bike may be better than a recumbent bike. It also allows you to sit or stand while you cycle and follow your own program; this is brilliant for HIIT and will get you the best results.

It also allows for a full-body workout rather than one related to the lower body.

Regarding low-impact training and comfort, a recumbent is much better as it supports your back and relieves pressure on your knees and joints to prevent injury.

But can you still get a good workout on a recumbent bike?

A recumbent stationary bike is brilliant for beginners and will burn almost as many calories. And promote weight loss in your whole body as a spin bike would, but you won’t need to work intensively.

Determining which bike is better depends on personal preference, fitness levels, and goals. Still, if you’re looking for a more intensive fitness bike, a spin bike is your best option, but a recumbent bike may be better for casual workouts.

Recumbent Bike Vs. Spin Bike

Recumbent bikes are indoor exercise bikes that recline. Instead of a traditional saddle with many other indoor bikes, the seat on this bike comes with a backrest. This feature is one of the main reasons I like this type of bike.

Recumbent bikes offer a comfortable position that allows you to burn calories and keep fit. They’re also good for your joints and provide a more relaxed form of cycling.

If you’re new to working out or want to limit the impact on your lower body, a recumbent is a perfect solution. Even athletes use them to prevent pain or injury, as well as work out for a longer duration without as much fatigue.

Spin bikes, on the other hand, are upright exercise bikes designed to work uniquely. They are similar to regular bikes you see on the road. These upright bikes offer two forms of resistance, magnetic and friction. Personally, I prefer the magnetic type!

Recumbent Bike Pros And Cons

Recumbents have a variety of benefits – as well as a few drawbacks:


  • Low-impact and, therefore, kinder to joints
  • Laid-back position for comfort and support
  • Option to go hands-free
  • Suitable for those who are elderly or those who have injuries
  • Budget-friendly
  • Options available for foldable versions
  • Many options display resistance, calories burned, heart rate, distance, and speed
  • Some models have resistance bands for an upper body workout
  • Aids weight loss


  • Not ideal for a more intense workout
  • Doesn’t have the feel of a real bike
  • Some models can be bulky
  • Most recumbent stationary bikes will work only on your lower body

Spin Bike Pros And Cons

Similarly, spin bikes have a range of advantages and disadvantages, too:


  • Has the feel of a road bike
  • Provides a smoother pedaling experience
  • Perfect for standing while cycling 
  • Easily adjustable handlebars and seating
  • Easy to use
  • Usually relatively lightweight
  • Ideal for endurance exercise
  • Flywheel continues when you’re not pedaling 
  • Some indoor cycling bikes have apps to guide you through sessions


  • Spin bikes tend to have a higher cost
  • Initial set-up can be complex and time-consuming

Spin class working out with motivational instructor

Is a Recumbent Bike Better Than A Spin Bike?

What this question ultimately comes down to is:

If comfort is key to you, consider a recumbent exercise bike. If, however, you want to get the very best workout, consider a spin bike.

If your main goal is to improve your high-intensity interval training and perform spin-style classes at home, spin bikes are the stationary bike you need.

However, if you want to improve your overall physical (and mental) health while being more comfortable and relaxed, an exercise bike such as this will suit your needs.


Why are recumbent bikes not popular?

There seems to be a myth surrounding recumbent exercise bikes that they aren’t very effective when it comes to weight loss. However, this is untrue. These bikes are also bulkier than upright bikes and, therefore, take up more room in people’s homes, which is a factor in their unpopularity.

However, an exercise bike such as this can be invaluable for those who require back support when exercising.

Can you lose weight exercising on a recumbent bike?

Yes, it’s most definitely possible to lose weight by using one of these exercise bikes. While many people think that a recumbent backrest looks too comfortable to put your body to the test, many people have successfully lost weight by using these bikes.

For someone who weighs 175 lb, using one of these bikes for just 30 minutes on a moderate intensity can potentially burn up to 275 calories per session. Do this 3-4 times a week, and the results can be dramatic!

Quick Answer: Why Are Recumbent Bikes Hard To Ride Uphill – BikeHike

Can You Lose Weight on a Recumbent Bike? Yes You Can! (

Recumbent Exercise Bike Vs Spin Bike – Which Is Better? – Cardio Capital

Indoor Cycle vs Recumbent Bike: Which Should I Choose? (

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Kier focuses on improving all things bike, and is always looking to take his ability to a new average (hopefully a higher one!). When not on the bike Kier is normally downing coffee and cake.
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