Recumbent vs Upright Bike Benefits & Difference

Recumbent vs Upright Bike Benefits & Difference You Need to Know

Recumbent and upright bikes are the two most popular types of stationary bikes available in the market to make you fit and active. They are great at burning calories and strengthening your body.

However, as both of these tools are bikes and feature similar characteristics, it’s very easy to get confused about which one to buy and what not to.

To make your decision-making process easier, in this recumbent vs upright bike article, we have discussed the benefits and differences of these two types of stationary exercise bicycles so that you know which would fit your requirement and body type perfectly.

So, without further ado, let’s start.

But before going into details, let’s first compare and contrast these stationary exercises tools to understand their similarities and differences precisely.

Differences of Upright vs Recumbent Bike


Schwinn 270

Schwinn 270

Body Positions: Reclined

Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves

Calorie Burning: Moderate

Injury Risk: Low-intensity

Ability To Progress: Moderate

Transferability: Low

Comfort Factory: More Comfortable

Ease of Use: Good

Budget Range: High


Nautilus U618

Nautilus U618

Body Positions: Upright

Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, Erector Spinea, Core, Shoulders, Triceps, Forearms

Calorie Burning: Moderate

Injury Risk: Moderate intensity

Ability To Progress: Moderate

Transferability: High

Comfort Factory: Less Comfortable

Ease of Use: Moderate

Budget Range: Budget-friendly

Now that we are fully aware of the differences and similarities between an upright and a recumbent bike, let’s discuss them in detail to find out more useful information.

Differences & Benefits: Recumbent vs Upright Bike

Even though both of the recumbent and upright are stationary exercise bikes, there are major differences between them, which you need to understand before buying anyone for your home gym.

Below, we have discussed these differences so that it’s easier for you to understand and then make a final call.



Although both of these stationary exercise tools fall in the “exercise bike” category and have a somewhat similar appearance, there are more than a few structural differences between these two, which you must know about.

Recumbent Bike

Not everyone loves to train on an uncomfortable machine, and keeping in mind about such riders; manufacturers build recumbent bikes to provide maximum comfort during workouts.

The setup of a recumbent exercise bike consists of a well-cushioned chair-like seat with an equally cushioned backrest to provide incredible comfort and support to your back.

This seat also has a reclined body position to ensure additional comfort to the rider’s body for an effective training session.

Moreover, recumbent usually come with 2 pairs of handlebars to provide maximum convenience to the users. One pair placed at the front for a full-body workout while the other pair is placed beneath the seat for lower body training only.

The pedals of this stationary bike are positioned at the front so that you have to recline a bit to reach them and start pedaling.

Upright Bike

On the other hand, an upright stationary bike is opposite of a recumbent. The structure of an upright is extremely similar to that of a traditional road bike.

Rather than ensuring riders comfort, this equipment was designed for rigorous workout sessions and to provide the same stance and same movements as a road bike.

This stationary bike features an upright frame with an upright sitting position, which is not as wide as of the recumbent one. Moreover, this seat post doesn’t have any backrest or extra-cushioning to provide additional comfort to the riders.

Furthermore, as this equipment mimics a regular road bike, it has handlebars placed at the front and pedals underneath the body to ensure the best result of your training.

Another great thing about this bike is that, since you are in an upright position, it engages more muscle than any other type of exercise machines.

Verdict: The type of stationary exercise tool you choose depends entirely on your exercising needs and fitness level. We cannot give any opinion here as both of these tools provide an excellent workout depending on your requirements.



It’s a well-known fact that any type of stationary exercise bike, be it a recumbent or an upright one, works primarily on the lower body. However, as a recumbent and an upright bike have a different structure, you can expect them to work on different types of muscles rather than the same ones.

Recumbent Bike

As a recumbent stationary bike keeps the rider in a seated position during the training session without engaging the hand and other body parts, it works mainly on your lower body.

From the glutes, quads to the hamstrings, flexors, and hips, this exercise machine takes the load of your upper body and focuses on your lower body to tone and strengthen those muscles for a fitter and stronger physique.

Aside from toning and strengthening your muscles, this exercise equipment also improves your cardiovascular system to make sure you become more active and healthy after training on a recumbent bike.

Upright Bike

Similar to a recumbent, an upright one also works extensively on the lower body to strengthen those muscles. However, this bike provides an upper-body training session to make sure that you have a full-body workout at the cost of one.

From glutes, quads, hamstrings, flexors, and other lower body muscles to biceps, triceps and lower back, this machine works on all your body to not only strengthen and tone these muscles but also to burn a ton of your calories for a leaner body.

Also, even though this exercise equipment causes a lot of pain during a workout, it is extremely effective in toning and building muscles compared to other stationary bikes.

Verdict: From the above discussion, you understand that upright bikes work on the major muscle groups of your body for a super-effective workout. It would be an excellent choice for looking for a total body workout at the expense of one.

On the other hand, when your main focus is to strengthen your lower body or recover from a muscle injury, don’t hesitate to adopt a recumbent over others.



One of the main reasons you ride an exercise bike is to burn calories and shed body fat. Even though recumbent and upright are cardio machines, they are also excellent at burning a lot of your extra calories and making you fitter than ever.

However, even though both of these exercise tools are in the “bike” category, they have different burning capabilities. Let’s find out how different they are in terms of burning calories and losing weight.

Recumbent Bike

As a recumbent features a reclined riding position and gentle posture, it is quite difficult to get your heart rate up on this piece of exercise equipment, and that’s why it is not as effective to burn calories as an upright bike.

If you are 200 lbs person, and you ride a recumbent stationary bike for an hour, you burn approximately 500 calories. But this rate is not high enough to lose weight quickly.

However, as this type of exercise bike is comfortable and less likely to cause joint pain and discomfort, you can train for a longer time than an upright and burn more calories simply by riding it for a longer period.

Upright Bike

If burning many calories per training session is your major goal, then an upright stationary bike is just the one for you.

As you have to place your hands on the front handlebars, this equipment works on the major muscles of your body, making every part of your body burn more calories than ever.

So how much fat an upright exactly burn?

Well, 200 lbs People can burn nearly 600 calories every hour they ride the bike. This means that it burns nearly 100 calories more than a recumbent does.

Verdict: If burning fat and losing weight is your main concern, then an upright is the perfect choice for you. With its high-intensity workout, this equipment can burn more calories and shed more of your body weight for a sexier tomorrow.



While training on any exercise tool, people fear of injuries and joint impact, and the stationary exercise bikes are no different.

The more the impact your machine delivers, the more likely it will cause pain and stress on your body; and similarly, a low impact exercise bike will cause less pain and strain on your muscles.

Now, let’s find out which stationary bike causes more pain and why.

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent are known for their well-padded seat post with an equally padded backrest. This comfortable seat saddle provides extra cushioning to you back and saving it from suffering any pain and injuries due to the training sessions.

Additionally, its front-mounted pedals ensure that your legs are more or less in a parallel position that doesn’t cause too much stress and strain on the joints and result in pain and injuries eventually.

As these bikes are super comfortable and offer a low impact workout session, recumbent have less injury risk. They are an ideal option for people suffering from joint pain and arthritis

Upright Bike

On the other hand, as an upright bike simulates a traditional road bike, it causes more pain and stress on your joints and muscles than any other stationary exercise tools.

As its pedals are placed below the seat post, it forces muscle groups to work against gravity, which puts a lot of pressure on your joints and muscles, causing severe stress and pain to them.

However, because of its upright sitting position, this tool makes you lean forward to ride the bike perfectly.

This leaning posture takes away a huge amount of pressure from your spinal cord. It might be extremely helpful if you are suffering from spinal cord conditions or degenerative spinal conditions.

Verdict: If you want to avoid pain and stress altogether and want to enjoy a pain-free training regimen, then choosing the right bike is very simple; as a recumbent  has a reclined position, it is comfortable and easy on your joints must be your only choice.


You might assume that a bike is a bike, what’s there easy and difficulty?

Well, as because a recumbent and an upright stationary bike have different designs and frame structures, they both have a different style of getting on/off the bike.

Getting on/off is important because it determines how easy and effortless a bike is to its users.

Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike features a “step-through” design, which makes this exercise equipment near to the ground level.

This revolutionary design makes it easier for you to climb up and down the bike effortlessly and reduces the chances of tripping and tumbling while you want to get on the tool.

Upright Bike

On the other hand, because of their tall, upright design, it is quite difficult to climb on this exercise equipment, especially for beginners and elders.

Also, as it requires extreme stamina, riding an upright is not as easy as it might seem.

Verdict: In this section, the recumbent bike is the easy winner, as it's super easy and friendly to use.

If you are a beginner or an older person or someone with limited mobility, then a recumbent is the perfect equipment for you as it is less likely that you would fall off the bike and cause accidents.

Wrapping Up

By now, as you have found out everything about benefit of recumbent  and an upright stationary bike and know how similar and different they are, we can take it that buying the right exercise bike for your home gym would be much easier than before.

Remember that both these stationary tools are great in their own rights and your fitness level.

We do not say that one is better over that other. Our only suggestion is to choose the right exercise machine according to your fitness condition rather than listening to others.

References: BBC

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Bike

Upright Bike

Upright Bike

About the Author Zachary Anderson

Hi, I am Zach who is behind I am a fitness geek. I love to ride bicycle regularly to be fit everyday. In winter when riding is impossible in cold then I love to workout at home using indoor exercise equipment. I also love to write in blog to share my knowledge in cycling & workout segment. I hope my articles will help you to be fit in any weather.Thanks!

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