What Muscles Does A Recumbent Bike Work?

Author: Alex Bristol

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What Muscles Does A Recumbent Bike Work?


The calves are the muscles that occupy the lower back of your legs. If you want to tone your calves, then, while pushing the pedal, you can ensure that your foot is pointed downwards. This motion is termed “plantar flexion“. This particular exercise helps you shape and tone your calves exactly the way you want.

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.


The hamstrings are the muscles located beneath the upper part of the thighs. These muscles are the opposing muscle group of the quadriceps. Their main function is to flex the knee. It allows the knee to bend while pedaling the exercise bike.

When you go for a bent position from a straight leg, these muscles get activated along with the quads and helps to make your foot reach the top again. The hamstrings comprise three muscles, namely, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.


The quads are the group of muscles that occupy the thigh front. These act as knee extensors. Quadriceps are constantly working when you are pedaling the bike. In the process of pedaling, they help the gluteal muscles to push the pedal downwards and assist them in getting the leg back to the top again.

The adductors, the inner muscles of the quad also engage themselves while pedaling. Also, This thick group of muscles comprises 4 muscles; namely, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medailis, and rectus femoris.

Gluteal Muscles

Gluteal muscles, or “Glutes” serve as the prime reason for the butt composition. These gluteal muscles show up every time your leg goes from a bent position to a straight position and thus, taking up the horizontal form.

We have three glutes (large, medium, and small buttocks). They all help to move your bike. The glutes work with the hip to rotate your thigh while cycling. Each time your leg pushes the pedal, the gluteal muscles take a major part focusing on assisting your leg for a proper extension.


These are probably the trickiest muscles to work when cycling on a stationary bike however, using a recumbent bike is your best option if you are looking to tone these muscles.

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

Can You Get A Good Workout On A Recumbent Bike?

It’s a common misconception that an upright bike offers a superior workout compared to a recumbent bike however, this is not the case. The difference between the two is that they work your muscles in different ways.

Recumbent bikes offer a low-impact workout, this means there is less stress on your muscles and as a result, it’s very unlikely you’ll pull any muscles or injure yourself so long as your posture and form are correct.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Consistent aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, improves lung capacity, decreases resting heart rate, and reduces high blood pressure over time. It’s also great for relieving stress and boosting your mood.

Research shows that using a recumbent bike offers these same types of benefits. A useful method is to do four 60-second sprints on the bikes, with pedal speeds between 80 and 100 repetitions per minute. And, you can also combine your routine with other things such as TV or podcasts which keeps you motivated and thus exercising more which is beneficial for your mood in general.

Muscle Strength

As you probably already know, since you came here wondering what muscles does a recumbent bike work? Recumbent bikes are a great way to build muscle strength. Many have found that cycling improved their muscle strength, power, and functional abilities noticeably after around the 8-week mark.

Can You Lose Weight On A Recumbent Bike?

If you’re concerned about maximizing calories and weight loss when deciding between a recumbent bike or an upright bike? Each bike has benefits that will be enticing depending on your main goals. However, both bikes produce the same calorie and weight loss potentials.

To achieve weight loss, you must increase your metabolism so you are burning fat and calories after the workout. To do this, you must perform high-intensity training in addition to the low-intensity, steady-state weight burning.

The recumbent bike is designed to reduce the stress on your body by offering lower back support. The problem is that the angle of the seat makes it harder to push the heart rate up or to produce a lot of watts. This is fine for your recovery periods but will slow down your overall caloric expenditure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a recumbent bike work your abs?

As we touched upon above it is possible to work your abdominal muscles while riding an exercise bike however, it is much more difficult on certain types. Luckily, a recumbent bike is your best bet in this department, the bucket seat will get your abs involved and if you try adjusting the angle of the legs near to the pedal, you can notice that the abdominal region is getting involved in the workout even more by pushing the pedals harder than before.

Is a recumbent bike good for belly fat?

Absolutely! Although it isn’t the easiest method. An upright may be better suited to weight loss if you want quicker results but a recumbent bike is a fantastic way of shedding pounds and you have reduced mobility or are obese.


So, now you’re an expert and know exactly which muscles you’ll be working while riding a recumbent bike. The primary muscles are calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and abdominals depending on how you’re cycling.

Upper body workouts are much harder to achieve on an exercise bike but not impossible as many people like to incorporate weights or resistance bands into their workout routine.

However, you decide to work out on your recumbent we know you’ll be toning all of your muscles in no time. So good luck and…

Happy pedaling!

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