We’ll cut right to the chase here: most sources indicate that recumbent bikes burn 400-450 calories/ hour. That figure is pretty good compared to other stationary bikes – upright bikes burn 500 calories/ hour, whereas spin bikes get you to about 600/ hour.
Also, recumbent bikes rank pretty high compared to Pilates, moderate walking, leisure swimming, and other back-friendly exercises.
But that’s not the whole story. Read on to find out which factors influence that calorie burn and, most importantly, what you can do to lose weight faster.
Factors that Influence Calorie Burn on Recumbent Bike
The factors that influence your calorie burn on a recumbent bike include:
Obviously, the faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn because your body will make more effort to achieve and sustain that speed. So:
- 12 mph burns 500 calories/ hour
- 15 mph burns 600 calories/ hour
Your Body Composition
Your body composition affects your metabolic rate. So, your body will burn more calories even when you’re resting:
- If you’re fit and have more lean muscles compared to a regular person, or:
- If you’re overweight/ obese compared to a lighter person
For example, at ten mph, you’ll burn:
- 350 calories/ hour if you’re 200 pounds
- 440 calories/ hour if you’re 240 pounds
People have different metabolisms depending on their age, biological sex, and pre-existing conditions. These factors affect your heart rate and muscle mass vs. fat ratio, determining your resting metabolic rate speed.
Basically, a faster resting metabolism needs more energy to operate than a slower BMR.
- Men burn calories faster than women of similar age and weight groups.
- Younger people burn more calories compared to older people in the same weight group.
- People with slower heart rates caused by some metabolic conditions (e.g., underactive thyroids) burn fewer calories than people with higher resting heart rates in the same age, sex, and weight group.
How to Burn More Calories on Your Recumbent Bike
If you want to lose weight faster on your recumbent bike, you need to burn more calories. Here’s how you do it:
According to research, interval training increases calorie burn because it activates your aerobic and anaerobic systems. That means you’ll:
- Burn carbs directly
- Use oxygen to convert carbs into energy
HIIT implies periods of pedaling at 80-100% of the intensity you can handle combined with 40-50% intensity periods. So, you can:
- Pedal very hard for 20-30 seconds
- Follow that by 10-15 seconds of lower intensity
- Repeat that whole pattern for about 20-30 minutes
Add Your Upper Body to the Mix
Using your entire body requires more energy than if you’re simply keeping your arms by your sides. So, start getting your arms in the mix with:
- Hand weights
- Resistance bands
- Bodyweight movements that involve the same exercises as above (e.g., bicep curls, overhead presses), but this time contracting your muscles and pushing against your strength
Shorten Your Workouts
Yes, you read that right. Instead of increasing your workout duration, shorten your workouts – but listen to your body.
You don’t want to feel completely drained at the end of your routine. Instead, aim for that pleasant soreness along with an energy increase. Simultaneously, you don’t want your workout to leave you feeling completely rested.
- Destroy your muscle mass, especially if you’re not taking enough rest days in-between
- Decrease your metabolic rate, especially if you’re doing steady-state cardio
So a good rule of thumb would be 30-60 minute sessions on your recumbent bike at maximum intensity every other day.
Use a Heart-Rate Monitor
If your recumbent bike doesn’t have pulse sensors in its handlebars, consider a fitness watch or chest strap. These devices show the number of beats per minute, but some also tell you what heart-rate range that number falls into.
For instance, a 34-year-old female weighing 132 pounds can see the following numbers and intervals on her fitness watch:
- 120 bpm: high-intensity
- 140 bpm: cardio
- 160 bpm: anaerobic
- 180 bpm: VO2 max
So, the high-intensity and cardio ranges will help you burn significant calories. Once you’re in the anaerobic/ VO2 max range, your body will also start burning through your fat stores.
Calories Burned on Recumbent Bike Conclusion
Recumbent bikes burn significant calories and help you lose weight quickly, compared to other low-impact exercises. However, that 400-500 calories/ hour you can expect will depend on your metabolism and the type of workout you’re doing.
Remember to pace yourself, listen to your body, and work out smarter – not harder to see more progress.
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