Any time you combine cardio workouts with a healthy diet that involves taking in fewer calories than you expend, you’re going to get slimmer from head to toe. While spot-reduction is a myth -- meaning you can't lose weight from one part of your body -- you can still get thinner thighs by doing regular workouts on a recumbent bike. And by taking it up a notch and increasing the resistance, you can simulate an incline and burn even more calories to help you get leaner legs and thighs.
Why Recumbent Bikes Rule
Because they are so easy on your joints and total body, recumbent bikes are cardio all-stars. Whether you’re riding at an incline or at an easier resistance, you can get a quality workout that doesn’t involve joint pounding or lower back discomfort. You can pedal away the calories in a reclined position that’s easy on your knees, abs and back while building strong muscles in your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
Choosing Your Incline: Duration
Determining your incline or resistance level will involve a few factors, the first being how long you’ll be riding. If you’re going for a quicker ride of less than 30 minutes, you can turn up the resistance higher and earlier in your session knowing you’ll only have to keep it up for a short amount of time. If you plan to bike for 30 minutes or more, it’s better to start out easier and work up to a resistance that’s moderately challenging for you so you’ll be able to maintain it throughout the workout.
Choosing Your Incline: Fitness Level
If you’ve been working out for a while and are already in shape, you can start out with higher resistance levels on the recumbent bike. Your legs won’t fatigue as fast, and your body will adapt to the challenge more quickly. When you’re new to exercising or have been out of the game for a while, though, it’s wise to start off with an easier workout and a less challenging incline. Doing too much too soon puts you at a higher risk for injuries such as muscle strains and inflammation, making it better to set out on your thigh-trimming adventure with lower inclines and working your way up.
Choosing Your Incline: Intervals
Selecting your incline becomes more challenging when you throw in intervals. But because they’re so effective -- and more mentally engaging -- intervals can be just what you need to achieve your thigh-trimming goal. Start your workout with a warm-up and then aim to complete three or four incline intervals before your time is up. Based on your fitness level, start your climb at a moderate resistance and then work up to a difficult level over the course of three to four minutes. Rest your legs with an easier resistance for two minutes before repeating your climb. If you’re up for it, make your last interval super challenging by increasing the resistance even higher for the final minute. Finish your interval workout at a low resistance to cool down your body.
While recumbent bike incline workouts won’t spot-reduce, they will help you develop the muscles in your thighs and make them appear stronger as you lose the pounds. Your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves all work hard as you pedal -- and they work harder as you increase the resistance and incline. If you do find, though, that you chose an incline that was too difficult, simply lower it by two or three points and give yourself time to recover. Then either increase it again to a lesser degree or finish out your session at the recovery level. And to better ensure your health and safety, be sure to consult with your doctor before you begin your recumbent bike routine.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.