To some degree, the specific muscles that stationary bikes work depend upon the bike. For the sake of brevity, let us focus on three primary stationary bikes type: recumbent, ordinary upright, and upright with mobile handlebars.
What All Stationary Bikes Have in Common
When used regularly, stationary bikes deliver a smooth, steady exercise session that allows consistent exercise, or the ability to switch exercise types between warm-up and cool down slow but steady sessions, and HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) workouts. All stationary bikes work on the calf, thigh, and backside muscles, or to give them their proper names, the triceps sural (calf), quadriceps and hamstrings (front and back of the thigh, and gluteal (seat and buttocks) muscles. These are important muscles, the ones that help you stand, walk, or run. They all have an effect on your circulatory system, including your heart.
Recumbent Stationary Bikes
Recumbent bikes are excellent for gentle cardio. They primarily work on the calf and thigh muscles, with less involvement of the back and stomach because their chair like seats support the rider. They are excellent for people who have back problems or who are recovering from illness or injury. Even though they provide extra support, the user can still work up a good lather of perspiration and reach a target heartrate.
Upright Stationary Bikes with Standard Handlebars
Like recumbent stationary bikes, upright bikes exercise the calf, thigh, and seat muscles. Stationary bikes work on muscles in your stomach and back, which include the abdominal muscles, quadratus lumborum muscle (lower back), and iliopsoas, which is the muscle that joins the lower back to the pelvis and to the upper thigh. A specialized type of upright bike, called a spin bike, is designed to be extra rugged and will allow users to stand while peddling. Standing while pedaling places more emphasis on the upper body, including arm and shoulder muscles, since these are needed to help support the torso. best spin bikes have extra heavy, weighted flywheels that add extra resistance while still giving a smooth ride. Many of them are belt driven, making them also extra quiet.
Upright Bikes with Mobile Handlebars
These are essentially spin bikes with handlebars that can be worked back and forth for an upper-body workout. Riders can lock the handlebars and simply use the bike as an ordinary spin bike, or they can stand with one foot on either side of the frame and work the handlebars separately. The truly daring and well-coordinated can pedal standing up while working the handlebars for an awe-inspiring super workout that uses nearly every muscle in the body.
The Bike You Use is a Good Bike
To paraphrase a popular song, any bike you use is a good bike. If your personal fitness level requires a recumbent bike, you will get good cardio from it. Used regularly, legs and thighs will get a good workout, and your circulatory system will thank you for it.
Standard upright bikes will actively involve more muscles, including back and stomach muscles, as well as some involvement of upper arm muscles. Spin bikes take this up several notches by having extra sturdy frames and reinforced pedals that allow the user to pedal standing up. Riding in a racer’s crouch on a spin bike will involve upper arm and shoulder muscles.
Upright spin bikes with mobile handlebars are the Cadillacs of indoor exercise bikes. They are set up to exercise nearly every part of the rider’s body, yet they can be used as an ordinary upright bike, or as an ordinary cross-trainer.
If you are trying for a particular muscle sculpture, then an exercise probably is not the answer. But if you want a versatile exercise tool that will allow you to vary your workouts between steady effort and HIIT workouts, then an exercise bike is a great choice. Even the recumbent bikes, which are the gentlest, provide a means to develop cardio workouts and to slowly build muscle strength. Ordinary exercise bikes are the next step up, followed by spin bikes, and then the super spin bike with mobile handlebars.
Regardless of your exercise goal, the best way to reach it is to exercise for about thirty minutes per day, five days a week. That kind of schedule gives plenty of room for switching up between maintenance sessions and challenge sessions, with two days per week to allow your muscles to rest.
Achieving your exercise goals is all about determination, planning, and consistent effort. You will gain far more benefit from daily exercise sessions than a marathon weekly visit to your local gym. An exercise bike, especially a spin bike, offers you the opportunity to set your own exercise schedule and to always have your exercise machine available for use.