Recumbent Bike vs. Spin Bike

Recumbent bikes are comfy and feature-packed, whereas spin bikes are dynamic, fat-burning machines. The choice is easy at first glance.

Things get more complicated when you judge these machines in depth.

What makes matters more complicated is that both bikes have similar calorie-burning values. So, which one should you choose?

Read the guide below as we break down the most critical issues to consider regarding your fitness goals, from muscles worked to weight loss.

Spin Bike vs Recumbent: Muscles Worked

Spin bikes work more muscles than recumbent bikes:

  • Your core needs to stabilize your entire body in an anatomically correct position, which provides a considerable challenge. Besides, as you’re shifting between standing and sitting positions, your abs contract further.
  • Arms and shoulders are involved a lot, especially when you’re leaning forward over the handlebars
  • Your quadriceps will do the most amount of work when you’re spinning, especially when you’re doing hill climbs.
  • Hamstrings become stronger because you’re using them to push constantly on those pedals. Again, the ability to stand up on your spin bike is an essential advantage for this muscle group too.
  • Your calves are strengthened further when you’re pushing against higher resistances and when you’re standing.

Recumbent bikes mainly strengthen your legs. They don’t activate your arms at all, and neither your back because you’ll lean on the bike’s seat. Thus:

  • Your quadriceps do a lot of work, as in all bicycle-related activities. Longer routines and higher resistances will sculpt your quads even more.
  • Hamstrings get activated when you bend your knees to push against the pedals. However, the sitting position activates your hamstrings less than when you’re using a spin bike. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage if your goal is to gain mobility and flexibility.
  • Glutes engage during leg extensions, and from that point of view, recumbent bikes target your glutes well. The problem is spin bikes do an even better job if your purpose is to build muscles.
  • Your calves are activated well during recumbent bike training without putting unnecessary pressure on your knees and ankles. As such, you can strengthen those lower leg muscles and joints safely.

Related post: What Muscles Does a Recumbent Bike Work

Calories Burned

recumbent vs spin bike calories burned

According to WebMD, a spin bike allows you to burn 238 calories during 30 minutes of moderate exercise if you’re 150 pounds. The recumbent bike isn’t that far off at 231 calories/ 30 minutes for people weighing 150 pounds.

Which bike wins, then?

Choose a recumbent bike if you’re interested in moderate workouts with minimum impact to your joints that allow you to burn a decent amount of calories.

But:

Choose a spin bike if you want to activate your whole body easily and increase exercise intensity. As opposed to recumbent bikes, spin ones allow you to incorporate:

  • HIIT routines to keep on burning calories even after your workout is done because science shows HIIT accelerates metabolism
  • Standing exercises that activate your upper body, increase calorie burn and create more endurance
  • Sprint training to reach that fat-burning zone faster

Belly Fat

The two previous sections tap into a few advantages of spinning that explain why spin bikes have a higher belly fat-burning potential. Let’s break these down:

  • Spinning activates your entire body, which raises your heart rate more. As such, you can get into that fat-burning zone faster, where your body uses your fat stores as fuel.
  • Spin bikes allow sprint training, which burns more body fat.
  • You can stand up on your spin bike, which not only increases heart rate and calorie burn but also engages your abs more.
  • HIIT spinning exercises accelerate your metabolic rate so that you can lose more body fat even while resting.

Don’t disregard recumbent bikes, though.

These machines keep you in a slightly leaned back position, meaning that your abs will remain contracted throughout your workout. That’s important because it means recumbent bikes sculpt your abdominal muscles, thus burning more fat stores in the area. 

Weight Loss

spin bike vs recumbent for weight loss

If you’re looking at the number of calories burned with a spin bike vs. a recumbent bike, you could say that both machines provide similar weight loss potentials. However, spin bikes may be better at this because:

  • Specific workouts speed up your resting metabolic rate so that you can lose more weight in the long term.
  • Spin bikes allow you to increase workout intensity more than recumbent bikes. Intense spinning burns much more calories than intense pedaling on a recumbent bike.

However, if you’re not looking at increasing workout intensity, recumbent bikes allow decent weight loss from a comfortable position while sparing your joints from the extra effort.

Here’s something else you may not have considered:

Spin bikes don’t usually have consoles, meaning you have to adjust your speed and resistance yourself during the workout. That’s a problem if you’re a beginner.

Beginners don’t always know: 

  • How hard they can push themselves safely
  • How to build a stationary bike routine
  • When to stop

So, if you’re a beginner getting a spin bike, you’ll have a lot of reading/researching to do if you plan to build personalized workouts. Alternatively, you’ll need to look for challenging and fun YouTube workout videos.

Recumbent bike users have it easier.

These bikes usually come with feature-packed consoles that have many built-in workout routines. That means you can start losing weight without any guesses the minute you receive your recumbent bike.

In Conclusion. Should You Get a Spin Bike or a Recumbent Bike?

If you read this far, you know that spin bikes are best for multi-position exercises, increased metabolic rate, and total body training. As such, spin bikes strengthen your muscles and torch your fat stores.

By contrast, recumbent bikes are comfortable thanks to their wide seats and – usually – ergonomic backrests. These bikes allow you to lose weight quickly, but they’re best suited if you prefer light to medium-intensity workouts with no impact on your joints.

Warning: These two categories of bikes feature very diverse products, so choose the suitable model based on your needs.

For instance, some spin bikes are better for sprint training, others for muscle building, and others for upper body training.

Consequently, choosing the wrong machine would make it more challenging to achieve your fitness goals.

Mary D. Brown

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