What Muscles Does a Recumbent Bike Work?


Cycling is provides aerobic exercise that improves your circulation, muscle strength, coordination and endurance. A recumbent bike provides back support, a comfortable seat and a cardiovascular workout that won't stress your joints. This type of bike is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine for people with balance issues or lower back problems. Your legs, gluteal muscles and abs power your body through each stroke of the pedals.


The muscles that run along the upper thigh or femur bone are called your quadriceps. This muscle group is thick and aids your upper leg in its work as a lever when riding a recumbent bike. The quadriceps are comprised of four muscles including rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius.


The hamstring muscles are the opposing muscle group to your quadriceps. They reside on the back of your thigh and allow your knee to bend during a pedal cycle. Three muscles comprise the hamstrings including biceps femoris, semitendinosis and semimembranosis.

Gluteal Muscles

Your three gluteal muscles, the ones that make up your butt, also help your bike move. The gluteus maximus is the most prominently worked when you ride. Nonetheless, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are engaged as well. They work with your hips to rotate your thighs when cycling.

Calf Muscle

The gastrocnemius is the main calf muscle you work when riding a recumbent bike. It is attached to the back of your knee and help to lift your heel and extend your ankle when your knee is straight so that you can pedal. The soleus is a smaller calf muscle, but just as important as the gastrocnemius. When your knee is bent, the soleus also helps to lift the heel in order to cycle.


The bucket seat and leg angle adjustment of the recumbent bike encourages your lower abdominal muscles to work during cycling. Adjust the leg angle closer to the pedals and you will feel your lower abs working a bit harder. A strong core stabilizes your body and allows you to provide power from your quads as you push against the pedals.