Recumbent bikes and abdominal exercises can have a great impact on your total body fitness. While cycling is generally thought of as a way to get your heart pumping and strengthen your leg muscles, you can actually use it as an abdominal exercise to strengthen and tone your stomach muscles. So don’t overlook the benefits that a recumbent bike has to offer especially when it comes to trimming your waist.
With a recumbent bike, your weight is more evenly distributed. It allows your body to be more relaxed and your lungs to take in more air. Because of the upright position and design of the recumbent bike, you also gain full back support as opposed to non-recumbent exercise bikes. Working out on a recumbent bike can engage your leg and butt muscles as well as your abdominals. Abdominal exercises can improve your overall core strength. Abdominal exercises will tone and slim your stomach, and your improved core strength will contribute to your back health as well as your overall fitness.
Including cardio exercise on a recumbent bike will help you burn calories and fat, which will improve the appearance of your abdominals. You can also focus on toning your abdominal muscles while using a recumbent bike. Do this by readjusting your seat so that your body is closer to the pedals. This position makes your legs less able to contribute energy to peddling requiring you to engage your stomach muscles, specifically your lower-abdominal muscles. Add in a simple abdominal vacuum exercise while cycling on the recumbent bike to further engage your abdominal muscles. Pull your navel into your spine and hold for a count of 10. Release and rest for one to two minutes and perform the exercise throughout your cardio workout.
If you want to have a well-rounded workout, do abdominal exercises before your recumbent bike workout. However, strength training before aerobic exercise may cause you to be too tired to complete an intense aerobic exercise because it depletes your glycogen stores, which provide you with energy for exercise. If this is the case, wait until after to do any abdominal exercises. One example of an abdominal exercise you can do before your recumbent bike workout is the abdominal hold. To do this exercise, sit tall in a chair with your hands on the edge of the seat. Lift your feet several inches off of the floor and then tighten your abs and lift your butt off the chair. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds before lowering yourself back down. Repeat this exercise for one minute. This exercise will engage and tone your abdominal muscles before your workout, but it also mimics the abdominal vacuum exercise that you can perform on your recumbent bike during your routine.
Aerobic exercises, such as using a recumbent bike, can serve as a great warm-up for strength-training exercises. Do the opposite arm and leg raise. Begin on all fours with your knees aligned with your hips and your hands aligned with your shoulders. Raise your right arm and left leg up to hip and shoulder height and extend them. Hold the position for two counts and then repeat with your left arm and right leg. Continue alternating sides for 15 to 20 repetitions.
Strengthening your core muscles will make it easier to do most physical activities from bowling to riding a recumbent bike. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to muscle injuries, poor posture and lower-back pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Include additional core exercises after your recumbent bike workout such as fitness ball crunches, plank and side plank exercises and superman exercises. Perform up to five sets with 10 to 15 reps per set for optimal results.
- National Bicycle Greenway: Medical Benefits of Recumbent Bikes
- Spine Health: Abdominal Exercises and Back Exercises: Getting Started
- Mayo Clinic: Is It Better to Do Weightlifting Before or After an Aerobic Workout?
- Fitness Magazine: Abs Exercises
- ExRx.net: Abdominal Vacuum
- Mayo Clinic: Slide Show: Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength
- Mayo Clinic: Core exercises: Why you Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.