How Many Calories Burned on a Recumbent Bike?

How Many Calories Burned on a Recumbent Bike?

Whether outdoors on a mountain bike or indoors on a stationary bike, pedaling is an excellent form of cardio exercise for all levels of fitness. Some people prefer a recumbent bike over an outdoor or standing stationary bike because it offers a very low impact cardio exercise you can do in a reclined position. Another perk is it allows you to watch tv or read while exercising, which might increase the time you spend exercising!

You can burn about 400 calories per hour on a recumbent bike by varying the intensity through pedaling speed and resistance. Specifically, a 150 lb. person pedaling at moderate intensity will burn approximately 4-7 calories per minute, or 165 calories per 30 minutes. A recumbent bike is a great workout for beginners or those needing low impact options.

In this article, we’ll discuss the number of calories burned on the recumbent bikes, as well as how to burn even more calories. Let’s dig in!

How Many Calories Do You Burn on a Recumbent Bike in 30 Minutes?

According to exercise physiologists, the number of calories you burn on a recumbent bike is dependent on several factors. These include age, gender, fitness level, body composition and of course workout intensity. 

A 150 lb. person pedaling at moderate intensity will burn approximately 4-7 calories per minute on a recumbent bike. This averages out to 165 calories burned per 30 minutes. If this same person were to pedal with more resistance at a faster pace they burn more calories, while if they pedaled slower with less resistance they would burn less.

For some more guidance, let’s take a look at how many calories a person would burn riding a recumbent bike at varying durations. The following chart is based on a person riding at a moderate intensity, or approximately 12-13.9 miles per hour. Remember that these are estimates.

WeightCalories BurntDuration
120 lb person16830 minutes
120 lb person33660 minutes
120 lb person672120 minutes
200 lb person33630 minutes
200 lb person67260 minutes
200 lb person1,344120 minutes
250 lb person44130 minutes
250 lb person88260 minutes
250 lb person1,764120 minutes

How Long Does It Take to Burn 1,000 calories on a Recumbent Bike?

Cardio workouts are a great way to help lose weight and we often equate weight loss with calories in versus calories out. So just how long would it take to burn 1,000 calories on a recumbent bike? You could realistically burn 1,000 calories by pedaling for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

The number of calories burned and the duration that it takes is going to be dependent on pedaling pace, resistance and body composition. Another factor to consider is that you are unlikely to maintain the same speed and intensity for an entire workout.

Does a Recumbent Bike Burn as Many Calories as an Upright?

Both a recumbent bike and a stationary bike offer serious workouts that benefit your cardiovascular health, muscle strength and range of motion. The biggest difference is that a stationary bike activates the whole body while a recumbent bike is more focused on the lower body.

What you put into a recumbent bike workout will directly impact what you get out of it. Most sources indicate that the difference in calories burned on a recumbent bike versus an upright bike is slim. For example, if you were to burn 400-450 calories in one hour, a stationary upright bike may get you 500 calories for the same intensity and duration.

Worth noting is that compared to other low impact cardio exercises such as swimming, Pilates, and moderate walking, recumbent bikes rank pretty high in calories burned.

When choosing exercise regimes always consider the risk and benefits associated with your body rather than only the calories burned. It is always worth staying healthy and strong to continue working out consistently rather than choosing the wrong exercise and causing injury.

How Can I Burn More Calories on a Recumbent Bike?

If you are looking to burn more calories, there are ways you can do that on a recumbent bike.

  • Add some upper body exercises to the mix. A recumbent bike mainly drives your lower body. Burn more calories by adding hand weights or resistance bands.
  • Turn your ride into a HIIT workout. High Intensity Interval Training can burn 25% more calories than a steady state of exercise. Introduce periods of pedaling very hard for 30 seconds followed by 15 or so seconds of low or moderate intensity.
  • Although they don’t do any of the work for you, using a heart rate monitor can help you burn more calories. They do this by helping guide your workout, serving as an indicator for when you could push a little harder, or of course, back off a bit.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. Recumbent bikes have a reclined back and larger seat for optimal comfort but don’t fall into the trap and passively pedal. Use the resistance feature on the bike to make things a bit more challenging and up your speed.
  • Another way to burn more calories is to shorten your workouts. This sounds counterintuitive but it has been shown to be effective. Long workouts can induce boredom and make it more difficult to work out again. Short bursts of higher intensity cardio have proven to be just as effective for calorie burn and cardiovascular health.

Benefits of Cycling on a Recumbent Bike

  1. Cardiovascular Health- any type of cardiovascular is beneficial because it strengthens your heart, can reduce high blood pressure over time and increase lung capacity.
  2. Muscle Strength- the recumbent bike works your glutes, calves, shins, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
  3. Range of Motion and Flexibility- research has shown that the recumbent bike increases circulation and makes the body tissues more elastic, helping the body stretch more freely.
  4. Safety- as opposed to an upright bike or other cardio equipment, recumbent bikes reduce the risk of falling for those who struggle with balance. It also puts less strain on the joints, including the lower back, making it a good option for those with orthopedic injuries.
  5. Comfort- if you’ve ridden a stationary bike before, you’ve likely experienced “saddle soreness” post workout. The seats on recumbent bikes are larger and eliminate that post workout ouch.

Which Muscles Does Cycling Work?

Cycling works a number of muscles. Its main focus is on the lower body, strengthening the muscles without too much stress on the joints. You could always add in some upper body strength movements! You can use light hand weights which offers another way to burn more calories. Here is a list of the lower body muscles the recumbent bike targets. 

  1. Glutes (gluteus maximus)
  2. Calves (medial gastrocnemius)
  3. Shins (tibialis anterior)
  4. Hamstrings (semitendinosus and bicep femoris)
  5. Quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis)
  6. Heart (myocardium)

Factors that Impact Calories Burned on a Recumbent Bike

There are a number of factors that impact how many calories are burned while riding a recumbent bike. Some of these you can control, and some are out of your control.

For example, your age, body composition and metabolism are going to affect how your body responds to cardio exercise, which for the most part are out of your control. Generally, younger people burn more calories than older people of the same weight because their metabolisms are faster. You are also likely to burn more calories if you are fit with lean muscle compared to less fit, or newer to exercise.

On the other hand, the speed you pedal and the resistance you set the bike is completely up to you. In general, the faster you pedal and harder you set the resistance, the more calories you are going to burn.

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Here at Choosing Nutrition, our goal is to help people with making smarter food choices. Whether you're wondering about vegan, keto, paleo, or other diets, we'll help you determine which options fit your nutritional lifestyle. Our staff is composed of registered dieticians, nutritionists, and health-conscious individuals.

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