A Comparison Between Upright and Recumbent Bikes 

April 27, 2020
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The chain of Soul Cycle gyms offer a wide range of cycling workouts, one of the reasons for its enduring popularity despite the entry of competing gyms. The Soul Cycle gyms usually have two types of bikes, namely, the upright bike and the recumbent bike. 

While both types are operated by pedalling motions, these have a few significant differences due to their unique designs. Their suitability for individuals will also differ because of it but their health benefits are similar. Let’s take a closer look at these similarities and differences.  

Upright Bikes

These are exercise bikes that looks like regular bikes and, thus, are used in the same manner except that these stay in place (i.e., stationary). The most notable design features of upright bikes include: 

  • The pedals are placed under the body so the body stays in an upright position with the legs underneath. 
  • The seat is likely to be smaller yet still provide comfort for the rear.  
  • The handles are placed in front, as is the case for traditional bikes. These can, however, be adjusted based on whether the user will be performing seated or standing workouts. 

These design features have their pros and cons. 

On one hand, an upright bike provides both low-impact and high-impact cardio workouts suitable for young and old people alike. It’s also great for getting intense cardio and whole body workouts, as well as give more consistent workouts.  It may also be easier to use for beginners because of the more natural motion of pedalling with the legs underneath the body.  

On the other hand, an upright bike may cause tension in the upper body faster than with a recumbent bike. This is because of the limited upper body support, particularly with the upright position. 

Recumbent Bikes

Many people think that recumbent bikes are more comfortable to use than upright bikes due to the reclined position. With the body reclining back against the back support, it enjoys full support while the buttocks are cradled in a larger seat. At this position, the body is more relaxed from the upper back to the lower body, particularly the hips. 

The pedals are also positioned in a nearly horizontal plane as the body of the bike. This means lesser strain on the knees, aside from the lesser stress on the upper back and lower body. The reclined position means decreased tension and fatigue in the muscles and joints and, thus, possibly extended sessions.  

Indeed, the recumbent bike is highly recommended for people easing back into a fitness routine from an illness or an injury, as well as for beginners in exercise. Being on it is akin to getting the best of both worlds – you’re in a comfortable position while also getting cardio exercise.  

But don’t be deceived by the apparent ease of recumbent bike workouts! These can be just as intense as upright bike workouts and, thus, provide similar health benefits. Ask your cycling instructor about high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a recumbent bike and get the desired results.  

In conclusion, the type of stationary bike you’re on takes a backseat to the fact that you’re on it and exercising! You can alternate between an upright and a recumbent bike and get the health benefits of exercising on both types.  

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