Differences Between Upright Bikes and Recumbent Bikes

Differences Between Upright Bikes and Recumbent Bikes

When seeking the perfect cardio machine to add to your home gym, you may want something other than the typical treadmill. While there’s nothing wrong with this option, you may be in the market for equipment that supports your goals in a new, refreshing way.

Stationary bikes are amazing pieces of fitness equipment that support low-impact exercise while providing an intense burn and strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. With these benefits in mind, note that upright and recumbent bikes are fantastic solutions to consider.

As two of the most common stationary bikes, you might not notice the differences between upright bikes and recumbent bikes. In this article, you’ll discover a few elements that set them apart; let’s take a look!


Depending on the level of comfort you desire during a workout, you may want to consider each machine’s seat and how it affects the session.

Upright Bike

Your setup on an upright bike will be relatively similar to that of an outdoor road bicycle. Given your posture on the machine, there is no back support to aid positioning while pedaling.

Pedal placement is typically underneath the body. When combined with the seat’s placement, your starting position will have a slightly forward lean, allowing you to reach the handlebars if necessary.

An upright bike’s seat is quite small, potentially causing some discomfort after extended periods.

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent bikes eliminate the forward lean by placing the seat lower than the console to promote a more natural seating position. This adjustment is less stressful on the joints and back, so you’ll remain comfortable during exercise.

You’ll typically notice pedals positioned out in front of your body, almost resembling a paddle boat. You can expect a more stable ride with the adjusted seat and foot placement.

Muscle Activation

Considering your position during both activities, you’ll notice a difference in muscle engagement.

Upright Bike

Since upright bikes allow you to stand in the same fashion as a road bike, you’ll feel more muscle activation than you would on a recumbent bike. Standing on one of these machines during movement engages your abdominal and gluteal muscles and promotes balance and stability.

Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike will keep you seated, eliminating the option to stand and activate significant muscle groups. While exercise on a recumbent bike engages your quadriceps and calves, its stability doesn’t require holding the handlebars.

Caloric Burn

Upright bikes engage more muscles, so many people believe it helps burn more calories. Given the features of a recumbent bike, some think this exercise won’t be as effective as other options. However, both standpoints couldn’t be further from the truth!

Your caloric burn will depend on the intensity and duration of the workout, regardless of muscle engagement.

As similar as many stationary bikes may appear, their features can provide varying benefits. For example, the differences between upright and recumbent bikes can affect muscle engagement or require certain levels of balance and stability, resulting in different workout intensities.

Ultimately, your final decision relies on your specific goals and how you want equipment in your home gym to benefit you. When looking for durable, premium exercise machines to add to your space, look no further than California Home Fitness. We provide various recumbent bikes in Southern California of different brands that can meet all the requirements on your list.