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What is a recumbent bike?

A recumbent bike is used for joint-friendly training of the lower body muscles. Recumbent bikes are also known as seated ergometers. Training with them promotes fitness and strengthens the cardiovascular system. A recumbent bicycle is characterised by a wide, comfortable seat and a horizontal pedalling position. It is ideal for people with back or joint issues as well as those with weight problems. The low step-through and the comfortable sitting position of this sophisticated fitness machine make it very user-friendly and ideal for joint-gentle rehabilitation training.

What are the differences between recumbent bikes, ergometers and home trainers?

The recumbent bike (or seated ergometer) is a further development of the ergometer, which is in itself a further development of the home trainer. The following overview summarises the differences between the popular fitness units.

Home trainers

Home trainers are classic bike trainers. You move as you would on a normal bike. You sit on a seat and pedal. In contrast to a bicycle, the training resistance is not generated by tires, friction or incline, but by an integrated magnetic braking system. By pedalling on the trainer, the flywheel is set in motion by a drive belt. A built-in and strength-adjustable braking system then acts on the flywheel.

Ergometers

The term ergometer is a registered trademark. At first glance, an ergometer is indistinguishable from a standard home trainer. However, certain conditions must be met in order for it to be allowed to be called an ergometer. The main difference to home trainers is in the braking system. Ergometers, including recumbent bikes, must have an eddy current brake. Eddy current brakes perform significantly better than the braking systems commonly used in home trainers and also allow very precise control of wattage. For these two reasons ergometers are also used in rehab and competitive sports.

Recumbent bikes

A recumbent bike fulfils the same criteria as an ergometer, but your legs are stretched forward during training instead of down. The recumbent bike originally came from rehabilitation therapy, but it is ideal for all sports enthusiasts. The seat impresses with a low step-through and a high backrest, which allows a reclined, relaxed sitting position. The upper body remains free and flexible, so you can train optimally from this sitting position. The sitting position also relieves the back and intervertebral discs. Larger people will also appreciate the large seating area. As the upper body is still and the lower body is relaxed in a seated position, you can read, watch your favourite TV show or even do some dumbbell training at the same time.

Who are recumbent bikes suitable for?

A recumbent bike is particularly suitable for people with joint or back problems. The relieving seated position and the gentle movement protect the ankles, knees and intervertebral discs. For elderly people and beginners, the recumbent bike is a gentle and enjoyable way to improve endurance, basic fitness and the cardiovascular system. It primarily works the muscles of the lower body. Furthermore, the recumbent bike is also a very good training option for people suffering from obesity, as they have wide, comfortable seats. Last but not least, recumbent bikes are perfect for relaxing after-work training at home: This fitness machine allows you to work-out at any time, even whilst reading or watching a film.

Advantages of recumbent bikes: Increase fitness in a healthy way:

  • suitable for beginners and advanced users
  • allows effective cardiovascular training
  • increase fitness and agility in a healthy way
  • comfortable seat with low step-through and backrest
  • strengthens leg muscles
  • particularly suitable for people with joint or back problems
  • recommended training for those returning to exercise or suffering from obesity
  • optimal rehab training after injury
  • also ideal for older people and seniors

With a recumbent bike, you can train at any time, no matter the weather, in your own four walls and strengthen your heart and circulation. Fat burning and muscle building programs are integrated just like with a regular ergometer. In addition, a comfortable sitting position provides very joint-friendly training. This makes recumbent bikes perfect for those with physical limitations or seniors, as well as all fitness enthusiasts.

What should I look out for when buying a recumbent bike?

Seat and backrest: pedalling with maximum comfort

It is best to test the quality and comfort of the seat and backrest of your desired machine before purchasing. Our numerous HAMMER Stores in Germany and Switzerland are ready for your visit. The seat and step-through should be relatively low so that you can get on and off the machine easily and without any problems. Ideally, the seat can be moved continuously forwards and backwards. In addition, the height difference between the step shaft and the seat is an important factor for those who are overweight. As a guideline, the step shaft should be at least 10 cm lower than the seat.

Braking system: induction is the benchmark

Recumbent bikes for rehab or competitive sport are equipped with induction brakes (e.g. our SOLE by HAMMER LCR recumbent bike). These are also called eddy current brakes. There are also recumbent bikes with a magnetic braking system, which is perfectly suited for home and fitness sports. Precise watt control, which is indispensable for rehab or competitive sports, is currently only possible with an eddy current brake.

Flywheel mass: circling in on decisive training characteristics

The weight of the flywheel mass as well as the bottom bracket and gear transmission ratio are important factors to ensure the pedals run smoothly. On recumbent bikes, they should be at least 8 kg. The heavier, the better.

Program selection: the right program for every need

A sensible selection of training programs provides variety in training. Heart rate-controlled cardio programs are particularly popular. An integrated or connected heart rate measurement allows you to train comfortably in the target heart rate range. Other programs such as interval and mountain and valley profiles help to keep up your motivation long-term. The training computer should be straight-forward and easy to use. Some machines can also be connected to a smartphone or laptop to link the recumbent bike with various training apps or programs.

In short: high-quality recumbent bikes should have a heart rate monitor and a sufficient selection of exercise programs. An example of this is our SOLE by HAMMER R92 recumbent bike.

Training with the recumbent bike – important aspects to consider

Setting the recumbent bike correctly for the user

Adjust the seat and back so that you can sit comfortably and pedal forward in a relaxed position.

Training duration and frequency

Beginners and untrained users should not overdo it in the beginning. Twenty to thirty minutes of training, two to three days a week, is plenty to start with. Give your body time to get used to the work and increase it step by step. As soon as your body has adapted to the training, then you can gradually start to increase the duration and the intensity. At the same time, or also later, the training frequency can also be increased. It’s important that you plan for the long-term. It would be a shame if at the beginning you started training 5 times a week and in doing so lost the long-term joy of exercise. It is more effective to increase the training intensity instead.

Training intensity

Intensive training sessions are particularly effective and useful. Beginners and advanced users achieve better results if they work out only two to three times a week, but intensively, with a high wattage relative to their fitness level. Even if you train for a relatively short period (30–45 minutes), you increase your stamina and strength. For non-competitive athletes, this form of training is better than trying to motivate yourself to work out every day but at a low to medium intensity. Nevertheless, you still have to give your body time to adapt to an increasing load. Beginners in particular should not train too hard at first.

Motivation

Long-term success and enjoyment of exercise comes from having the right motivation. The body is a creature of habit, so train at fixed times so you become used to your preferred training time. Train with music or watch your favourite TV show while you pedal. Do not overdo it at first and do not train daily, remember to enjoy the time between sessions.

Losing weight with recumbent bikes

To lose weight effectively, you need to build muscle and change your diet. Overweight people should create a nutritional plan and control their daily calorie intake in the beginning. In order to build muscle and burn calories quickly, you need to increase the intensity, i.e. the training wattage. Those who only do cardio training consume less calories than with weight training – it’s better to train shorter and harder than for a long time with low intensity.

Test our recumbent bikes at our HAMMER Stores

Visit our HAMMER Stores and test the quality of home trainers, ergometers and recumbent bikes. You will be able to see how each machine feels and can make the correct decision for you. Our fitness experts are available for you in many towns across Germany and Switzerland. They’re happy to answer any questions in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We look forward to your visit! Find all our locations here.

HAMMER experts hotline

Still have questions? Then pick up the phone and call us! At HAMMER SPORT, we love fitness and offer free, personalised advice over the phone. Our experts are at your disposal for any questions concerning fitness, sports, quality and health and, of course, can advise you on any equipment issues. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of individual machines and benefit from their expertise. Of course, we’re also happy to help over the phone anytime after your fitness equipment purchase.

Alternatives to recumbent bikes

Possible alternatives to recumbent bikes are cross trainers, home trainers or ergometers, indoor cycles and speedbikes or treadmills.