3 Reasons why not to do the Recumbent Bike

We discussed the Stairmaster and the reasons why it should not be one of your common choices for cardiovascular training, now lets look at the Recumbent Bike.

So unlike the story I shared with my absolute horror that surrounded the cleaning of sweat off the mats from people using the Stairmasters, I have no such story for the recumbent bike. The exercise bike has been a staple of every training center built over the last 30 years. It is simple, requires very little maintenance, and is not outrageously priced. The other component that has made them so popular over the years, they are easy. Very easy in fact. This is where the problems arise.

Most people simply look at cardiovascular machines as a chance to burn some calories. You have several choices when it comes to cardio the bike is commonly used to “warm-up the body” or for people who are having joint pain since it is the lowest impact of all the machines. It is also used as a common rehabilitation device to help people recover from various injuries and surgeries. You can even see athletes using them to stay loose on the sidelines of football games. 

It seems like a great choice but consider the following reasons why in my opinion it is totally over rated as a viable option for your cardiovascular training. It will be a much longer post about why I do not like it as any kind of rehabilitation as well but thats for future posts.

1. The position you are training in reinforces terrible posture – we spend so much time in a seated position that we start to lack the necessary stimulus to maintain the ability to hold correct posture. Why then would we choose to try and improve our physical well being by staying in a seated position and train from there? It creates even greater amounts of tightness in the muscles that surround the pelvis. This in turn causes imbalances in the pelvis that effects everything above and below it. This means a change to the spine which will can lead to all kinds of injury symptoms. It also creates even more issues in the upper back and neck area as well. Look at the picture above from incredibody.com. This is pretty typical posture on these machines and notice how slumped her back and shoulders are forced to be? Not a good way to try and increase your overall physical health. 

2. Limited ability to burn calories – do yourself a favor and ignore those little numbers that pop up saying yo have burned 450 calories in the last 5 minutes. I know thats an exaggeration but those things are such a joke. How can that machine possibly know how many calories you are burning? The reason I do not like it as an option for burning calories is that there is so few muscles involved in the exercise. Your upper body is more or less completely out of the equation and with the seated position of your hips you are really limited in how much demand there will be on the muscular system. This really limits your calorie burning abilities and once yo have done it several times your body will adapt to it. 

3. Creating major Muscle Imbalance – this is a problem on most cardio machines but it is real bad on the recumbent bike.  You are really only gaining strength in the muscles in the front of the leg, hip flexors (barely) and your quads. This causes you to encourage the development of muscular imbalance in your lower body which destroys your muscular efficiency and leads to injury and limited performance.  

I will keep going with the cardio vascular training for awhile. They are not all bad I promise. We will also go over some ways you can make machines like the Bike less of a negative and more of an opportunity to get something positive from them.


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