Using Peloton App On The Recumbent Bike (Pros and cons)


I’ve been using the Peloton digital app for over two years. One of the reasons why I like to recommend it to my older clients is because it can be used with many cardio machines like recumbent bikes, ellipticals, and cross trainers.

Today I will explain what are the benefits of using a recumbent bike with the peloton app, what are the benefits, and (most importantly) suggest some of the best classes you should try.

people on recumbent bikes

In a nutshell.

  • You can do some of the peloton cycling classes on a recumbent bike, however, you won’t be able to see any performance metrics like cadence, power output, and calories burned.
  • Peloton does not make recumbent bikes.
  • The only bikes the peloton makes are upright stationary bikes (similar to the ones in the indoor cycling class.)

Overview

One of the reasons why I encourage people to use peloton digital app together with recumbent bike is the content.

Peloton has thusands of cycling classes that can be streamed from any mobile device.

I think that joining the class led by an enthusiaistic instructor is more appealing than starring of the blank screen from the recumbent bike monitor (the same way you can do peloton elliptical workouts.)

For the record, I don’t own or use recumbent bikes.

However, I work with a heaps of people who unable to use the usual peloton bike for health reasons.

  • Recumbent is a decent alternative for those who love cycling, but can’t do it.
  • Plus, most of the workouts that I recommend in my peloton for seniors article does take into consideration people with limited range of motion.

Using peloton app on recumbent bike is awesome

There are many reasons why people choose to use recumbent bike over the stationary bike.

For example.

  • The recumbent bike has larger sitting area, which helps to reduce extra pressure from the lumbar spine (an alternative for people who want to use peloton with lower back pain.)
  • This is also ideal for anyone recovering from a lower-limb injury, as well as for those suffering from arthritis.
  • Recumbent bike seat is positioned in a extended positon with minimum hip flexion.
  • This laid-back reclining angle helps to enagge quadriceps and gluteus more, which helps to takes pressure off the hips and knees (good option for people who use peloton with bad knees.)

On the other hand.

The peloton bike is an upright bike where the body rests entirely on an ischium bone also called the sitting bone.

There are some limitations

One of the weakness I see in recumbent bikes is that they cannot generate peak force, compared to peloton bike becasue of the posiiton. Reclining seat creates less hip flexion.

Of course, from my experience, people who are exercising on the recumbent bikes are either beginners, seniors, or people with a limited range of motion.

This means the higher total power output and intensity aren’t the main goals of their workout plan anyway. The most important part is comfort and minimum risk of injury.

You can get a good workout on recumbent bike

Using peloton on the recumbent bike is awesome and you still can get a great workout.

Recumbent bikes engages the same muscle groups as an upright bike, while reducing the pressure on the tail bone, lower back, and minimizes ACL loads.

  • The seat position on the upright bike is almost vertical, wherein recumbent bikes are almost horizontal.
  • This can give an illusion of different muscle group engagement and, therefore, different workout effects.

However, nothing can be further from the truth.

Recumbent Bike vs Peloton

If you’re on the fence between choosing the peloton bike or recumbent bike I will try to give you some guidance to help you make a smart decision.

In a nutshell.

  • You should get a Peloton bike if you don’t have any contraindications for using the upright bike.
  • The recumbent bike is a better alternative if you have any limitation in range of motion or you’re concerned about your knees or lower back.
  • One of the chief complaints I hear from people using the upright bike is the uncomfortable seat. This can be a real issue, especially for beginners or bigger people.
  • With a recumbent bike, this problem is solved with a large and comfortable sitting area.

As with everything, there are some pros and cons of getting either one or another.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Peloton BikeAccess to leaderboard
Allows to ride in and out of the saddle
Generates more power and can burn more calories
Takes time to set up
Require delta cleats and cycling shoes
Can put pressure on knees and lower back
Small seat and can hurt the backbone
Recumbent BikeMinimizes injury risk
No pressure on lower back or knees
Easy to set up
The seat is large and comfortable
Doesn’t allow to move out of the saddle
Doesn’t generate optimum output
Peloton vs Recumbent Bike

Also, as a digial member, you won’t be able to receive a peloton century shirt, which is a encouragment gift after you completed 100 rides.

However, I don’t think the shirt or leaderboard should be the focus. Enjoying your workout, creating a better lifestyle habits and choices and becoming heavier is the most important.

Case study

Alexandre Dias Lopes, Ph.D., a professor form the Northeastern University, conducted a study on muscle activation during the exercise on the upright and recumbent ergometers using the EMG (Electromyography).

  • A group of ten males with no cycling experience pedaled on standard recumbent and upright ergometers.
  • The goal of this study was to assess differences in pedaling kinematics.

Results

The results of this study have shown that muscle engaged during both rides were the same (no significant difference between the two bikes).

The only difference was in the level of muscle activity.

The hamstrings semitendinosus showed the biggest difference in muscle activity.

  • The recumbent bike had 29.9
  • The upright bike showed 22.
recumbent bike vs upright bike hamstrings activity

On the flip side, the rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps) showed higher EMG activity on the upright bike with 32.2, compared to the recumbent bike 20.4.

recumbent bike vs upright bike rectus femoris

Another big difference was noticed for the calf muscle.

The anterior (front) part of the calf had 26.7 on a recumbent bike, compared to 21.9 on the upright bike.

recumbent bike vs upright bike tibialis anterior

And finally, when it comes to the gastrocnemius-soleus complex, the EMG activity between the two was almost identical.

gastrocnemius muscle activity upright bike vs recumbent
MuscleRecumbent BikeUpright Bike
Rectus Femoris20.423.2
Semitendinosus29.922
Tibialis Anterior26.721.9
Medial Gastrocnemius3434.1
Muscle activation in an upright bike vs recumbent bike

As you can see, the results showed that you can get as good a workout on the recumbent bike as you would from the regular upright bike.

Recumbent Bike with Peloton App

Using a recumbent bike with a peloton app can be effective because it unlocks more diverse and guided workouts with a variety of sessions and difficulty levels.

It also helps to stay motivated and be part of the community.

I think that using the Peloton digital app together with a recumbent bike can transform boring workouts into more challenging and fun experiences.

Recumbent bike is safer

Running and cycling are two of the most popular methods of physical activity, however, they are not tolerated by everyone (especially people who just getting started, or have mobility limitations.)

Jack Lysholm, MD, PhD, says that “the injury rate per 1,000 hours of training was 5.6 to 5.8 in sprinters and middle-distance runners.”

On the other hand, the recumbent bike is different. The injury rate for recumbent bike is almost non-existent.

There is a limited impact on the joints and reduced lower leg loading rates, even compared to regular walking. Which makes the recumbent bike an excellent alternative for exercise and rehab modalities.

You can do a Peloton classes on a recumbent bike

In general, you can do peloton class on a recumbent bike because most of the rides are from the saddle.

Some of the most suitble classes are peloton low-impact rides, recovery rides and selected endurance rides.

Almost all of these workouts are done in the seated position where you only increase the resistance or cadence. You are not standing or riding out of the saddle.

This allows you to go head-to-head with peloton instructors directly from the recumbent bike.

All you need is a peloton digital membership and a mobile device like a phone or tablet. You just place your device on the panel screen in front of you and follow the instructions from the class.

Peloton works with any recumbent bike

In general, you can use any exercise bike with a peloton, as long as it’s stationary.

Regardless if it’s an upright bike or a recumbent bike, you can stream cycling classes directly from the digital app.

You can also connect the peloton cadence sensor to display your speed and track your cadence.

In a nutshell.

  • A cadence sensor is a device you can attach to the pedals or you can place it inside the shoes.
  • The device will connect to the peloton app and will start to sync with your speed and cadence, so you can receive more precise data.

How to use recumbent bike with Peloton App

  • Start by setting up the recumbent bike. This includes ensuring your have the right seat position.
  • Turn on the peloton app on one of your mobile devices and choose the class.
  • Classes that you won’t be able to access with digital app include peloton scenic rides and just ride mode.

I recommend using mobile phnoe becasue it will take less space in the mobile tray, so you can still track your metrics from the recumbant bike display screen.

Here is the video below you can see a great presentation from the SilverSneakers where they explain how you can use a recumbent bike.

Best Peloton rides for recumbent bike

Generally, you can use any peloton cycling classes on the recumbent bike.

However, some of the classes do include standing and doing a class out of the saddle. Overall, peloton out of saddle classes have many benefits, but are not recommended for a recumbent bike.

Here are the best peloton recumbent bike workouts.

1. Low Impact

Low impact is perfect for people who are just getting started. It is a series of classes where you stay in the saddle for the entire duration of the session.

This class lasts anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes where you gradually increase the resistance or speed.

Why I love this class

  • The low-impact class is good for the recumbent bike because it’s a good start and helps to build up aerobic capacity.
  • Starting from lower intensity helps to minimize muscle soreness, improve body ability to recover, and slowly build strength and stamina.

2. HRZ Endurance

Heart rate zone endurance is similar to low impact, however, those classes last for longer. The session is usually focused on long-distance and the class can last up to 75 minutes.

To find the HRZ endurance rides you need to filter the class by “class type” and choose “heart rate zone”.

Why I like this class

  • Peloton heart rate zone endurance rides gives an alternative way to implementing progressive overload, instead of adding more resistance or speed.
  • Increasing the duration of the class is an effective way to progress and challenge yourself, without reaching the anaerobic threshold.

In HRZ endurance, I recommend using peloton heart rate monitor (or any other HRM) to helps you track your intensity.

3. Power Zone Ride

Power zone ride is another step forward. It is similar to climbing classes, but without standing. All class is done seated.

The climbing is done by adding resistance. Power zone ride has its separate filer tab in the peloton app under “power zone”.

Why I like this class

  • Power zone ride works on muscle strength by gradually increasing the resistance while staying in the saddle.
  • It allows to increase the heart rate, work towards the lactate threshold, and improve cardiovascular fitness.

Keep in mind that on digital app you cannot do peloton FTP test, so you won’t have the power bar that displays your output.

4. HIIT Ride

HIIT ride is a combination of hills and interval training. The class is shorter in duration, but it’s a higher cardiorespiratory demand.

I generaly find that peloton HIIT and Tabata classes doesn’t have many standing positions, comapred to intervals and climbs.

HIIT rides last between 15 to 30 minutes. The goal is to ride faster for an amount of time, followed by the recovery time.

Why this class

  • The HIIT ride is good for recumbent bikes because it challenges both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
  • High speed and high resistance efforts engage both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers, build up strength and conditioning, and also help to burn more calories in a short time.

Best Recumbent Bike For Peloton

In general, the best recumbent bike for peloton will be the one that you feel the most comfortable with and will last for a long time.

I’ve only used the commercial recumbent bikes in the gyms I’ve worked so I cannot tell you what brand is the best.

From my experience, the absolute best piece of equipment I’ve been on is LifeFitness and Technogym.

Those machines can work 24 hours without any problem for several years. But they also come with a steep price. If you want to check out more information go ahead and visit the

Will Peloton Have a Recumbent Bike?

I doubt it.

As far as of now, the peloton didn’t announce any plans about releasing a recumbent bike.

At the moment you can only get a Peloton bike, peloton bike+, peloton tread, and peloton guide (rower coming soon).

Conclusion

  • The combination of the recumbent bike with the peloton app not only can provide a better experience but also offers a variety of workouts.
  • This means you can get a good workout, without worrying about knees, hips, or lower back.
  • What I like about the recumbent bike is the seat.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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