Health is a significant part of today’s narrative; there are healthy alternatives available to every junk food you can find.
Granted, they might not taste the same, but they do keep your body away from bad cholesterol and greasy fat.
But diet is only a part of a healthy lifestyle; you need to include regular exercise into your daily life to keep your mind and body active.
Talking of exercises, the long ongoing argument between the best recumbent bikes and best spin bikes will have a satisfying end in this article, be sure not to skim most of it.
Stationary Bikes : A brief overview
For the people living in the cities, a gym membership might offer some relief, but due to its crowded nature, you might not have the time or the gym might be too far away from you.
So you have decided to build a home gym, you sought some advice from friends, trainers. You bought some essential equipment like a pullup bar, jump rope, dumbbells, and now all recommend that you start biking or jogging to pump your cardiovascular system.
Now jogging or biking might not be possible for you because of the weather conditions or the lockdown ensued by the pandemic.
The perfect solution for that is an exercise bike, also known as a stationary bike that can offer you a riding experience within your house.
Now stationary bikes are of many types recumbent, spinning elliptical, they are all suited for specific situations.
But the ones that you are split between are the spinning and recumbent bike. Both are very good but have drastically different features; their seating posture, muscle groups they hit, and comfort levels vary.
Here we will discuss the two in detail, point out their differences, and their highlights allowing you to make an informed decision and finally choose the perfect exercise bike for your needs.
A recumbent exercise bike is more comfortable than an upright bike, whether it is a spinning or elliptical machine.
The machine is designed like a laid back chair with a large reclined seat back that supports your back and relieves excess stress on your body like the knees and the spine.
Also, the pedals are positioned in front of the body, which, along with the seating posture, makes the machine very comfortable to use.
A spinning exercise bike is structured almost exactly as a real bike. The flywheel is in front, and the pedals are directly below you, which makes your seating posture and a riding experience like that of a standard bike.
Therefore people who ride regularly and are used to riding in that posture will love the spinning bikes’ design.
You will be riding upright with your spine slightly curved and more pressure on the knees as well as back.
A healthy individual with no back injuries or pain can easily handle this beast, but people with weak joints and knee, hip pains can not use the machine for very long as it may lead to further injury.
There are not many similarities between the two except that they are both exercise bikes with a flywheel instead of a treadmill.
Overall strength building and targeted muscle groups.
Let’s look at how these two differ in terms of bodybuilding. Each person has their own goals to work towards, each having different body structures. Some will want to work on a particular muscle, while others want an overall development. So before buying one, you should know which muscles they target and what benefit it brings you.
The spinning and recumbent bikes have different structures and riding posture; therefore, your body will respond to the training differently. Both are good for improving your lower body strength and cardiovascular system; the resistance levels offered can push you to your limits if you are an intermediate to almost peak physique.
The recumbent bike is designed so that the seating posture targets the quads and the hamstrings giving a more balanced lower body tone. On the other hand, the spinning bike targets the quads no matter how much you adjust the settings, the bike is just made that way.
The recruitment bike targets more muscles simultaneously; thus, you will get a more even muscle growth and balanced development of your lower body compared to a spinning bike.
Sprinting is typically a short session in which you deliver your maximum output, strength, and speed work hand in hand. It will boost your metabolism and give your cardiovascular system a good workout. 10 sprint runs in 20 mins is equal to an hour of regular cycling. It’s also useful for building muscle because sprinting uses all of your muscles in a single session, making it a very balanced exercise. Due to the intense bursts of energy required, your body burns through your reserves fast, which means it’s easier to lose weight by sprinting a few times a day than spending all day in a gym. It also strengthens your heart.
At some point, as your body gets stronger, you will want to try high-intensity training.
With a recumbent bike, you can sprint up to a certain point; after that, the seating posture does not allow you to output your maximum speed. The exercise bike will start to become unstable, even move out of position, interrupting your flow.
But the spinning exercise bike’s structure has a good upright posture that is excellent for continuous high-intensity training sessions. Your seating position allows your body to channel all your strength with stability into the pedals. The flywheels are designed to go from low RPM to high RPM in seconds; the structure can also take the punishment; it will not vibrate nor wobble.
Let’s talk about comfort, it’s a necessary aspect, especially if you plan on training for long sessions to increase your stamina and endurance. The comfort factor is mostly influenced by the type of seats and body posture while training.
The recumbent exercise bike wins in this regard because the seat is designed in a reclined position, and the seat itself is much larger and broader than those found on spinning bikes.
Combined with a relaxed posture that does not put much stress on significant parts of your body like joints and spine, make a recumbent machine ideal for long sessions. People with back or spinal injuries can use this machine without worries. This design is perfect for anyone despite their age, size, or past medical conditions. The seat is also adjustable to various positions with the help of an extended sliding mechanism. You can personalize a recumbent machine to fit anyone’s body structure.
On the other hand, a spinning bike has a small seat and structure that keeps a rider in an upright position for all his sessions. The spine will be curved for an extended amount of time, and you have to adjust your weight fully onto the handlebars to really push yourself or else you will become unstable while riding. Its not a very comfortable way to train for long hours unless you plan on entering a cycling marathon.
Because the design of a spinning bike is similar to a standard bike, you can get on and start training immediately. Still, in the case of the recumbent bike, you will have to get used to the seating posture and pedaling position; it may take a few days, but you will get it, and then it’s smooth sailing from there.
Risk of Injury
This is an essential factor that most people overlook. Professionals are not really bothered by this, but beginners and intermediate riders often make mistakes that end up injuring their ankle or other body parts that take on the most weight.
In terms of risk of injury, the recumbent bike has the lowest chance of injuries than any other upright stationary bike.
The reasons are pretty straightforward, recumbent bikes have added back and lower spine support; the seats are often padded to avoid a sore butt after long sessions.
Your legs are stretched horizontally away from the body most of the time, which puts less stress on your knees.
Your body weight is equally distributed along your back with the help of a larger and broader seat. If not to your liking, you can adjust the center of gravity by sliding the seat, meaning if you are sore in a particular part of your body, you can adjust the seat to put less weight on that part.
In a spinning bike with an upright sitting posture, all the weight is directly focused on your butt, in turn, the tailbones, and lower vertebrates. These bikes also don’t have a backrest to handle all that stress. It’s very likely that after a long session, you will experience some back pain and neck cramps even after stretching. Also, the curved position of the spine for extended periods is not good for your health in the long term.
Those with back injuries should not even consider an upright bike if you have a recumbent bike as an option. It’s my advice that you choose a recumbent bike if you have any spine-related medical history.
Ease of use
I mean by the ease of use is the ability to customize your training programs quickly and effortlessly.
In this category, the winner is simply the recumbent bike because an average priced recumbent bike comes with a digital display that shows you all your training data and allows you to adjust your training parameters.
Let’s take similarly priced stationary bikes under 500$ the Schwinn 230, a recumbent bike, and the Schwinn IC3 a spin bike. At the same price point, the Schwinn 230 offers a console with 22 builtin training programs, 2 custom profiles, and digitally controlled flywheel resistance. Simultaneously, the Schwinn IC3 comes with a display that shows the distance and approximate calories burned.
In recumbent bikes, you only need to plug it, switch it on, choose a training program depending on your level and start pedaling, it’s fully automated, and they also have heart controlled programs. These console settings add a magnitude of challenges for you to overcome; you will never be bored or tired of its features.
The spin bikes, on the other hand, are entirely manual, most reasonably priced ones anyway. You will have to adjust the resistance by turning a knob and decide for yourself what your level is and craft a training program according to that. Beginners will struggle to find the right combination of pace and strength.
Below are some more Product Comparisons that you may have a look
Pros of Recumbent Bikes
- Comfortable larger and wider seats.
- Natural riding posture that puts less stress on the body.
- Less chance of injuries during workouts.
- Digital console with various ready to use workout programs.
- More connectivity options.
- Hits more muscle groups simultaneously.
- Best for people with physical difficulties.
Cons of Recumbent Bikes
- Not suitable for high-intensity training sessions.
- The training posture will need some days to get used to it.
Pros of Spin Bikes
- Traditional cycling posture, easier to get used to.
- The structure allows for maximum speed and effort.
- Great for high-intensity training sessions.
- Smaller and lighter, easy to move and carry.
Cons of Spin Bikes
- Unbalanced weight distribution, greater risk of injury.
- Not for people with injuries in the past or the elderly.
- Not comfortable for long sessions.
- Fewer options for workouts and data transfer.
- Manual, you have decided on the training parameters.
After this careful analysis of all the factors that anyone could want, there is a clear distinction between recumbent bikes and spin bikes.
Recumbent bikes are more comfortable, have more to offer in terms of technology and connectivity.
They help you to stay fit while having the lowest impact on your body in terms of stress. Recumbent bikes are made for long sessions, comfort, and for all age groups. This bike is best for beginners, people with severe physical injuries, rehabilitation purposes, and experts who want to change their routine.
Spin bikes have a traditional design that makes it easy to get used to; professional cyclists and those who seriously train to get better at cycling will find the seating posture useful. The upright position allows for maximum power.
In short, spin bikes are great for those looking for a traditional design and experts who know precisely what they are doing. Beginners can use it with proper instructions from a trainer; you are just aimlessly pedaling away your time.
Here we are at the end. I hope by now, you have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.