What Muscles Do Recumbent Bikes Work?

What Muscles Do Recumbent Bikes Work?

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again. Those fitness goals set at the beginning of the year have not yet been met, and you’re looking to make a change. Don’t worry, the same thing is happening to all of us! We work out consistently for a little while, trying to find the right machine or regime for our bodies, but nothing seems to work. It is easy to give up and lose hope in transforming your fitness lifestyle, but what if you just haven’t found the right products?

Many people use traditional workout bikes, treadmills, or free weights, but tend not to think about other alternative ways to exercise. A recumbent bike is a machine not many are familiar with, but could possibly be the thing you’ve been searching for. 

What is a Recumbent Bike?

A recumbent bike is not a widely known product, but it should be. It has all the facets of a standard bike but includes a lower seat that is in line with the pedals. This seat is much different than a regular bike, as it allows for far more back support and an overall comfortable ride. Though this seat is in a different position, it allows for even more muscle groups to be targeted when riding. These recumbent bikes are available in the stationary and outdoor form, allowing you to exercise outside or in the comfort of your own home. 

what muscles do recumbent bikes work

Muscle Groups Targeted

That’s all great, but what muscles do recumbent bikes work?

A recumbent bike is a great tool for people to target multiple muscle groups all while getting that fat-burning cardio. Continue reading to find which muscle groups the recumbent bike directly targets to see if this is the right piece of exercise equipment for you!


The quadriceps are one of the most highly targeted muscles in a recumbent bike. For those who do not know where the quads are located, they are on the front of the thigh. It is composed of four different muscles, which are: vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and rectus femoris. 

When using the recumbent bike, your quads will help push the pedals forward and back. While biking, you will most likely feel a nice burn in the front of your thigh, showing that the quads are being used and are working hard. 


The hamstrings are another highly targeted muscle group that assists the quads during pedaling. The hamstrings are designed to help bend your knee and are located on the back of the thigh. The muscle group consists of three specific muscles: the biceps femoris muscle, the semitendinosus muscle, and the semimembranosus muscle. 

When riding the bike, your quads help push the pedal forward, while your hamstrings help bend your knee to pull the pedal backward. This bending of the knee flexes all three muscles located in the hamstring and can help tone and build the back of your thighs.


The gluteal muscles are the last group of muscles used in your upper thigh when biking. The glutes are located on your rear, and are made up of three different muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus minimus, and the gluteus medius. 

The primary goal of the glutes is to help with your quads when pushing the pedals of the bike. The muscles are targeted whenever your leg is being extended or pushed behind you. When you push the pedal, your quads and glutes work together in order to move your leg forward. While biking, the most focused muscle in this group is the gluteus maximus.


The calves can be very well utilized when using the recumbent bike. This muscle group is located on the back of your leg below the knee, and consists of two different muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle.

If you want to specifically target the calves when using the recumbent bike, it is important to point your toes when pedaling. Doing this is called plantar fixation, and helps flex the calf muscle more than you would when normally pedaling. This plantar fixation uses the gastrocnemius muscle more heavily, but is still a great way to tone your calves while biking!

Another muscle that can be used is the tibialis anterior, which is located on the shin of your leg. Like plantar fixation, if you perform the opposite motion (i.e. pointing your toe towards your leg) it will target and tone these muscles.


The last, and arguably most desired muscle that will be used is the abdomen. Everyone wants to tone their abs, but this recumbent bike will engage them without you having to do endless sit-ups or crunches! 

When pedaling, you’ll notice your core using more power than a regular bike, and that is because of the lower seat. The seat allows for you to sit back a bit more, causing for more of a movement of the abs when pushing on the pedals. Working on your abs without even noticing it is a great benefit to this type of bike.


As you can see, the recumbent bike does a lot more than offer cardio. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself sticking to that regime you set for yourself in January and will start living your best life. However, there are a lot of different bikes offered online, so you’re going to want to look for the best recumbent bikes that are out there. This can be the start of something great for you and your body. Have fun pedaling!

Written by Jack Lynch

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