Are Recumbent Bikes Suitable For HIIT? +Example Workout

You like using the recumbent bike and also want to do HIIT. Now you’re wondering if it’s possible or even a good idea. You’re not alone. Here is the answer you’re looking for.

Recumbent bikes can be used for a HIIT workout although a spin or air bike would be better suited towards that. Most recumbent bikes have easily adjustable high and low intensity and have a comfortable seating position which is quite safe to push yourself hard on.

What makes recumbent bikes suitable tool for HIIT? What would a HIIT workout look like? Keep reading to find out.

Are Recumbent Bikes Suitable For High Intensity Interval Training?

Are recumbent bikes suitable for doing HIIT workouts?

Recumbent bikes are suitable for HIIT although they are not the best type of exercise bike for this goal. However, if a recumbent bike is what you already have or you just really like them, they are usable for a HIIT workout.

Recumbent bikes have enough resistance and are easily adjustable enough for HIIT. Recumbent bikes don’t really have the seating position for ‘sprinting’ like a spin bike does but you can still get a very high intensity workout. The benefit of using recumbent bikes for HIIT is that they are quite safe to go hard on.

Recumbent bikes are mainly meant for low-medium intensity steady state workouts. their comfortable seats and seating position make for a very comfortable way to do cardio workout. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used for high intensity, but they’re not built for it.

If you have to pick an exercise bike for HIIT and don’t have one yet, a spin or air bike would be a better choice. However, if you’ve got a recumbent bike already, doing HIIT on it is not a problem.

There are a few things your recumbent bike should do or have to be good for a HIIT workout.

  • Easily Adjustable Intensity: You have to be able to switch from high to low intensity quickly.
  • High Maximum Intensity: To get high intensity intervals, the maximum resistance has to be quite high. It should be high enough so you can be completely worn out after 1 minute or less.
  • Sturdy: Going at high intensity puts more stress on the frame. You want the bike to be stable and secure.

It depends on the recumbent bike if it ticks all those boxes. Cheaper models might not have the resistance and sturdiness to really be safe to use. Mid-range and higher end models are perfectly safe to use.

Image of four recumbent bikes


Most recumbent bikes are suitable for HIIT. It’s a safe machine to use for this purpose. To make it easy to use you’ll want a bike that has a wide range of magnetic resistance that’s easily adjusted. Built in programs can help make things easier but not all recumbent bikes have programs that are suitable for HIIT.

However, a recumbent bike is not the best tool for HIIT although it’s also not the worst. HIIT requires a lot of mental strength to be able to push yourself to go as hard as you can for many times in a row. If you prefer to use a recumbent bike, that will help you push yourself harder.

That said, a recumbent bike is one of the ways you can do HIIT that is pretty low risk of injury. Since injury will make you miss workouts while you recover, using a recumbent bike could give you more training longevity.

Recumbent Bike Example HIIT Workout

HIIT is all about pushing yourself close to the limit for a short period and then recover for a short period. What the limit is, is of course very different for everyone. And on top of that, every recumbent bike is different so a certain resistance setting on one isn’t the same as on another bike.

Suggested: Can you lose belly fat by only using an exercise bike?

You’ll have to figure out for yourself which setting is high and low for your machine and training level.

HIIT has two types of interval; High intensity and low intensity or recovery.

The high intensity interval should be performed at a resistance setting that pushes you to 99% of your ability within the set time.

The low intensity interval is mainly for recovery. Keep your legs moving but at a very low resistance level.

Where workouts differ is in the length of the intervals and how many cycles you go through. And of course you will be able to push yourself harder the more you train. There are many ways you can change the length of the high and low intensity interval to create different trainings.

In general, if you’re doing it for fat loss, a High:Low ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 is effective. This means 30 seconds high to 30 or 60 seconds low. For a focus on muscle growth you can use a 1:5 or 1:6 ratio. This way you can rest more so you can push harder during the high interval.

Some simple examples of what a HIIT workout on a recumbent bike could look like;

  • Beginner:
    • Warmup: 5-10 minutes cycling at medium-low resistance and intensity
    • Intervals 1:2, 30 seconds high, 60 seconds low.
    • Start at 5 cycles for absolute beginners. Add one cycle every workout until you get up to 10.
  • Intermediate:
    • Warmup: 5-10 minutes cycling at medium-low resistance and intensity
    • Intervals: 1:1.5 30 seconds high, 45 seconds low.
    • Start at 6 cycles and work your way up to 12 cycles over time.
  • Advanced:
    • Warmup: 5-10 minutes cycling at medium-low resistance and intensity
    • Intervals: 1:1 60 seconds high, 60 seconds low.
    • Start at 6 cycles and work your way up to 12 cycles.

These are just some examples. As long as you push yourself and increase the difficulty over time you will improve.

If you have a heart rate monitor, that’s a really useful tool for HIIT. During the high intensity interval, you want to aim for 90-95% of your maximum heart rate . That way you have a quantifiable way of seeing how hard you pushed yourself.

Suggested: Is 30 minutes on an exercise bike enough to see results?

Which Recumbent Bike For HIIT?

Which recumbent bike would be the best for doing HIIT workouts? While recumbent bikes are not the greatest type of stationary bike for HIIT, some are certainly better than other. For HIIT you need something that can provide plenty of resistance, has easy to adjust resistance levels and is sturdy enough to go hard on.

The 3G Cardio RB Recumbent (amazon) bike is a great choice. It’s not a cheap recumbent bike bit it’s super sturdy and has a very simple adjustment button for resistance. It’s a dial you can turn very easily. The seat is also super comfortable and the bike is usable for people 5′ -6,5′ tall perfectly fine.

For a cheaper option, take a look at the Nautilus R618 (amazon). It’s not quite as well built as the 3G and isn’t suitable for as wide a range of heights. On the plus side there are buttons on the console for every resistance level which makes it super easy to change from high to low intensity.

However, if you are not married to the recumbent bike idea yet and really want to do HIIT workouts, take a look at air bikes. They are super tough to work out on and also have arm levers to give you a full body workout.

Favorite Cardio Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high-quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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