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Which Muscles Recumbent Bike Works On?

While it can be really gratifying to step on the scale and see the progress of a weight loss journey, there's nothing like looking in the mirror and noticing a toned muscle. A recumbent bike is not only amazing for weight loss, but it's also great for working those muscles so they can become toned and defined. There are quite a few muscles that can experience the benefits of this type of bike. If these six muscles are on your list to tone, this recumbent bike might be the perfect solution.

Gluteal Muscles

Recumbent BikeYour gluteal muscles (glutes) are the muscles that you want to tone and build so that they can look amazing in a pair of jeans or a fabulous dress. There are three areas that make up the glutes: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. A recumbent bike is an incredible exercise to work these muscles for a few reasons. When it's time to ride, the leg does a forward-moving motion that works the hips as well as the glutes. The consistent extension of the hip in that movement challenges the glutes to work hard.

This ride requires the rider to pedal forward instead of down like an upright bike. The forward movement works the glutes in a different, yet equally effective way. In combination with a great cycling workout, it's a good idea to finish with a few squats to really increase the toning and strengthening process of the glutes. Keep a few dumbbells by the wheels to accompany the squatting exercise.


The hamstring muscles are one of the muscle groups for your legs. Specifically, the hamstrings are right underneath your glutes. They essentially make up the rear section of your thigh. When they're toned and pronounced, these muscles can support your glutes in looking fabulous in a bathing suit. In an effort to work the hamstrings, this ride requires hip extensions and just like this movement works the glutes, it does the same for the hamstrings as well. The hamstrings serve as support to the knees and in order to effectively use these wheels, the knees have to consistently bend in order to support the movement.

Because of this, the hamstrings help the knees move especially in the part of the movement where the foot is drawn backward to prepare for the forward movement again. As the foot moves backward, the knee is drawn back the most.

Quadricep Muscles

The quadriceps muscles (quads) can be found right in the front. They are the upper part of the leg and make up the thighs. There are five muscles that make up the quads: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. When it's time to use the stationary machine, the quadriceps get strengthened when it's time to push forward in the pedaling process. The quadriceps are considered the most instrumental muscles when it's time to do any type of cycling motion and they can really benefit from an intense cycling workout.

Within the context of riding, the quads are considered knee flexors because they help the knees and the glutes push forward. Because a workout with a recumbent bike is considered a low-impact exercise, it's one of the safest and most effective ways to tone and strengthen the quads without a high risk of injury. Still, it's wise to stretch for a few minutes before and after the workout to protect the quads.

Calf Muscles

calf musclesThe calf muscles (calves) are located within the bottom portion of the legs. They're the muscle group that's behind the shins and beneath the knees. There are two muscles that make up the calves: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The calves are instrumental in the process when it's time to pedal. Anytime your foot is using the pedal, the calves are constantly working and this motion is called plantar flexion.

It's important to take care of the calves by stretching before and after a stationary recumbent bike workout. Yoga is a great option after a cycling session. Even if you just do the downward facing dog pose a few times, this can do wonders for making sure the calves are okay. Workouts that involve the calves have the potential to create tightness and stress fractures. While this type of workout is a low-impact option, you still want to get into the habit of using the best practices which include stretching.

Abdominal Muscles

The abdominal muscles (abs) are the muscles that stabilize your body in the midst of a cycling workout. The upper body has to remain balanced and supported even though the lower body is doing the majority of the work. The abs make sure this happens. The abs are another group of muscles that benefit from an exhilarating ride because this workout requires the use of the core muscles to support the spine. While it's instinctual to use the muscles within the legs and glutes while you're riding, the abdominal muscles require a little more intention.

It's important to remember to draw in the abs and engage them as you continue the workout. As you pull the abs inward and use them as a stabilizing source, they'll become stronger and this actually increases their ability to become more defined.

Tibialis Anterior Muscle

This isn't one of the most popular muscles, but the tibialis anterior muscle sits closest to the shin and is located in the frontal portion of the lower portion of the leg. When it's time to pedal, the ankle plays an integral role in making sure the movement is completed with ease. Each time the ankle is extended, it requires the use of the tibialis anterior muscle. The ankle is extended each time it's time to stretch the foot forward during the pedaling motion. While it's not a muscle most people are looking at for muscle growth and definition, it does play a role and it receives the toning and strengthening benefits.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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