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When I first started shopping for home exercise equipment I was disillusioned pretty quickly.
What do you mean that there are no machines for a guy my size? Are you saying I’m too fat to lose weight??
Even the best recumbent stationary bikes wouldn’t quite support my weight and I was left with no option but to pick up some fat guy running shoes and spend the next 6 months walking off some weight.
Eventually, I did make it down to a range where exercise equipment salesmen would talk to me and I ended up looking at several different home equipment options.
Lifting weights didn’t work for me, my knees hurt on a treadmill, and my belly was too big for a rowing machine.
So what option was left? A heavy-duty stationary bike of course! In my “new” and “lighter” form I needed a stationary exercise bike with a 400lb capacity which proved pretty difficult to find. After lots of hours shopping and testing I was able to narrow things down to the following options:
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Now, I know that not all of them have a true 400lb capacity. They’re close though.
Besides, I plan on using them to lose weight so I should be within the weight capacity of all of them soon enough. Besides if you’re a big and heavy person wanting to invest in a stationary bike you might want something that looks a bit less clinical and is useful for a wide range of people/sizes.
With that being said, I don’t know why anyone would ever buy anything but a heavy-duty stationary bike.
Heavy-duty options trump regular-duty stationary bikes in nearly every regard. For example:
- They last longer. Everyday wear and tear has less effect as you are not close to maxing out the machine.
- They require less maintenance and few repair expenses. (for the same reasons that make them last longer).
- They have better resell value. Heavy-duty options can be hard to find so if you want to resell, it should be easy.
- They have more adjustments. If you’re a big and tall person looking for a recumbent bike, heavy-duty options are typically made for both bigger and taller people so they’ll fit your body a bit better.
- Everyone can use it. When I buy furniture, I imagine my fat friends sitting on it and breaking it. I imagine the same scenario when buying other things (like exercise equipment) and buy accordingly.
So, in short, if you want it to last for years and take you through the journey of weight loss with extra maintenance and expense, save yourself a headache and buy heavy-duty, no matter your size.
So let’s talk about some options you’ll be faced with!
Best Type Of Resistance In Recumbent Stationary Exercise Bikes
Frankly, if you’re obese, the type of resistance from your stationary bike is not likely to matter. You will be able to get a decent workout no matter which type you get.
However, there are several options and they all differ in feel, price point, and advantages. Let’s touch on the three most popular:
Direct Contact Resistance
Direct Contact is the oldest and most common type of resistance in a stationary bike. This is especially popular in heavy-duty stationary bikes as it is very sturdy and has replaceable parts.
Direct contact stationary bikes have a flywheel that replaces what would be the wheel on a normal bike. It is a heavy piece of metal (typically 35-55lbs) that is connected to the pedals via a belt or chain.
The resistance comes from a pad that contacts the flywheel and acts as a brake, slowing it down. The level of resistance is determined by how tight the pad is to the flywheel. This is typically adjusted by turning a knob or screw.
A stationary bike with magnetic resistance utilized a set of magnets that repel each other to provide resistance. Resistance is increased in finite numbers by moving the magnets closer to or further from the flywheel. This is usually done with a button or knob.
While this type of bike tends to be more expensive, it has fewer parts that are in direct contact (meaning less wear) and also tends to be quieter during use.
If you are just getting into fitness and want a stationary bike specifically for a high weight capacity, it is unlikely that you’ll choose an option that utilizes air resistance.
Resistance comes from turning the “flywheel” which in this case is actually a fan with blades. The faster you pedal the more resistance you’ll have. This type of bike tends to be a bit noisier and provides a different feel.
You’ll be better off sticking with the first two for your first bike.
3 Best Heavy-Duty Recumbent Stationary Bikes
1. CYBEX 750R – Best 400lb Capacity Recumbent Bike
Cybex is one of the few companies in the world that tailors its products to obese people who are dedicated to losing weight. Their 450R machine support is a large step above other stationary bikes and can support up to 400 pounds with ease. If there is anything bad to say about this bike is that it’s heavy, but in this can that just means that it’s extra sturdy! You’ll never have to worry about it rocking side to side when you’re peddling or getting on/off.
It comes loaded with features including two hand grip locations to ensure that you’re always comfortable and able to get in as long of a workout session as you want. Not only will a long comfortable workout get your heart rate up, but the handles near the seat have built-in sensors to read and report your heart rate! And believe me, you’ll need to know your heart rate as you work your way through 21 fat-melting routines that you can do in 21 different levels of resistance.
Because the R70 is a commercial model you can expect that it will be one of the best stationary bikes available when it comes to longevity and effectiveness. However, if you expected it to lack creature comforts you’d be right. While it is one of the few heavy-duty stationary bikes with a 400-pound capacity you won’t be watching TV on a built-in screen or even jamming to your favorite tunes. This machine is built to help you lose weight and that’s what it will do!
2. 3G Cardio Elite RB – 350lb Capacity Big & Tall Stationary Bike
While this machine doesn’t quite fit our 400lb capacity goal, I had to include it because I can now fit on it and it’s an incredible machine! 3G Cardio has won several “Best Buy” and “Best Value” awards for their treadmills and vibrations machines and their recumbent stationary bikes follow the same quality and innovation standards. While the above two machines are true 400lb capacity bikes, they feel a bit industrial and space. The Cardio Elite on the other hand feels like you’re on a comfortable spaceship!
In fact, the quality of this machine is so high that it comes with a complete 7-year parts warranty! The only thing that isn’t covered by the seven-year warranty is the frame because it’s covered by their lifetime warranty!
16 programs from beginner to grueling will ensure that each user (it supports up to 4 separate user profiles) can get a workout that is tailored to their exact fitness level. This is also the only bike on this list that can be easily moved by an average person. It weighs only 115 pounds and has wheels on the front making it easy to tip up and wheel to your desired location.
So if you don’t need a full 400lb capacity exercise bike, this is a high-tech and comfortable option that you’ll be very happy with!
3. HCI Fitness PhysioStep RXT-1000 – Recumbent Stationary Hybrid For Obese People
If you are around the 500-pound mark, your options for home workout equipment are extremely limited. If you’re ready to gain some fitness (and lose some weight) talking to your doctor is the best place to start. If you have done that and decided on a plan, then we have machine recommendations!
The HCI PhysioStep RXT-1000 is a true bariatric machine that is designed specifically for obese users. While I am pretty hesitant to classify it as a true “recumbent bike” it has more in common with a bike than an elliptical. The innovative pedals do not rotate, but more in a forward and back motion which is much easier on your knees.
The one thing that this bike has in common with ellipticals is that it has moving arms. This allows you to get twice the workout in the same amount of time! While this is truly one of the only options for those up to 500lbs, for all the amazing benefits that it offers, it is easy to crown this machine as the best stationary bike for obese people.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Stationary Bike
As you’re probably aware, getting more fit and losing some weight is much more involved than just buying an exercise machine. In fact, the majority of home exercise machines sit dusty in the basements of fat people.
To help you avoid that trap, here are 3 tips that, if followed, will see you through to success aboard your heavy-duty stationary bike!
- Find and follow a program. If you just get on your bike when you feel motivated, you’ll never see results. You’ll need to find a program and keep a record of what you’re doing if you actually want to improve. You can find a program that is extremely complex or very simple (such as just cycling 30 mins every morning and recording your time/distance) but having one will make all the difference in your results!
- Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. Anyone can get an amazing workout on a stationary bike. However, having great workouts is not how you get results. Results come from effort over time. A year of mediocre workouts will put you far ahead of the person who works one super hard sporadically.
- Get distracted. Here’s what I do: I find a show I like and only watch in while on my stationary bike. One episode per workout. This ensures that time flies by for me. If I want to watch more episodes? I better be ready for a double-length workout! Just don’t give in and watch it on the couch, part of the purpose is to motivate you to get on the bike in the first place!
If you get the best stationary bike you can afford, find a good program, and put in your time, you will get results!
Recumbent vs. Upright Exercise Bikes For Big People
The argument between different types of exercise bikes is as old as the bikes themselves.
Fortunately, as someone who is obese and has tried both, it’s fairly easy for me to advise you. Get whichever one is more comfortable. You’ll use it more.
At the end of the day, every type of stationary bike is meant to do two things: burn calories and increase your fitness level. While one type may (or may not) be more effective it will not make an appreciable difference in your weight loss journey.
The reason that I, in general, recommend recumbent bikes is that they are easy on your bike, your joints, and your belly. I’m much more willing to hop on a bike while watching a TV show if it’s not going to be a miserable experience. Make your journey as easy as possible and you’ll be far more likely to keep it up.
Which pretty much means that spin bikes are not an option. Unless you are already at a decent fitness level you’ll likely find a spin bike to be too intense. It will be hard on your back and joints which will make it far more difficult to get a decent workout.
So while you should choose whichever one is right for you, if you’re a big and heavy person, it’s probably a recumbent stationary bike.
4 Knee-Safe Alternatives To Exercise Bikes
If you’re a big and heavy person and want to get into (or back into) exercising it can be intimidating to head to the gym. I know that when I decided to take charge of my fitness I made it a goal to lose 50 lbs on my own through home workouts and diet before stepping foot in a gym.
This naturally led to me wondering what the best home workout equipment was for someone my size. I looked at weight sets but wanted something a bit more beginner-friendly. I did quite a bit of walking around my neighborhood but I wanted something I could do on bad weather days. In the end, I narrowed my options down to 4 at-home cardio machines, each with its own pros and cons:
Upright Stationary Bikes
In my mind, the stationary bike is the king of exercise machines for big and heavy people. It allows you to get in an excellent workout that is suited to your fitness level without undue wear and tear on your joints. I can burn 500 calories on a stationary bike and be fine the next day but if I tried the same thing on a treadmill I’d wake up as one big cramp with sore joints.
If you’re big enough that you can’t find a stationary bike that supports your weight (or you just find them too expensive) you can always start with an under-desk exerciser or hand bike. They don’t have weight limits and you can use a chair you already have.
I do own a high-capacity treadmill (which I enjoy) but it is not my go-to piece of equipment. I really do appreciate it because the cardio and strength increases I get from it are so functional! Walking on a treadmill translates to my real life much better than a stationary bike does. However, it does tend to be hard on the joints as well as more expensive to purchase and maintain.
Rowing machines are an excellent cardio option that has the added benefit of increasing strength as well. While they can be difficult to find for big guys and gals, there are some great heavy-duty rowing machines on the market that will support 300lbs or more.
While ellipticals occupy the lowest rung on my choice ladder, I recognize that lots of people like them. I always feel awkward and ungainly on an elliptical and would prefer to simply walk on a treadmill. However, if you want to get your arms involved (and don’t want to just wave them around on your bike) then an elliptical might be perfect for you!
So whatever your goal is, you can accomplish it with any of these machines. In the end, I advise you to choose the machine that sounds the most enjoyable to use. The more fun you have on the machine (or the less you hate it) the more likely you are to melt the pounds away! However, I truly believe that a stationary bike is the best option for most big and heavy people!
At the end of the day, the key to losing weight and getting more fit is simply to start. Any recumbent bike that will support your weight will give you a better workout than your couch will.
Any of the above options could be considered among the best recumbent bikes for big & heavy people and you should be happy and successful with any of them!
Whichever option you choose, be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Happy cycling!