Stationary Bike Vs Elliptical

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When looking for a new piece of home workout equipment, you've probably been faced with a choice between a number of machines. Hopefully you've already made a decision that it is either going to be an exercise bike or an elliptical machine. But which is better: an exercise bike or elliptical machine?

With such large varieties of different exercise bikes and elliptical machines to choose from, this question is fair to ask. Consider your end goal, whether it is for weight loss, cardio workout or muscle toning. 

Spending money or time on a machine which eventually won't take you to your ultimate target as fast or efficiently, will only lead to frustration. Let’s explore the differences and hopefully we can help you choose the right one for your needs.

What Are the Differences?

An exercise bike and elliptical machine are two very efficient cardio machines. They will both raise your heart rate, make you sweat and burn some calories. But what is the difference?

Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes come in various forms and shapes. To narrow it down, we chose three main types: indoor cycle, upright bike or recumbent bike. While all three are beneficial, some may have a slight advantage.

For example, an indoor cycle will likely give you a more intense workout. It's a basic piece of equipment, perfect for exercises such as spinning. 

In contrary, a recumbent bike is, theoretically, not as intense because most of your weight is rested on the seat. However, this will depend on your effort.

Elliptical Machines

An elliptical machine, or cross trainer, is a bit different. This machine enables you to stand while moving your legs back and forth. Most nowadays come with handles which you can push and pull, engaging more of your body. 

As you can see, these are two very different pieces of equipment. However, they do have one thing in common. They're both low-impact machines in comparison to a treadmill or rowing machine, for example.

What Are the Benefits?

Any workout equipment is helpful in one way or another because they were designed to better your health while building up your endurance. 

To be specific, an exercise bike will tone and form your thighs and legs, while giving you a superb cardio workout, which in turn, improves your performance through other aspects.

You can include aerobic exercises to produce enough sensations in your body to trigger a release of endorphins. These work to silence the sad or bad feelings in your body and mind, making you happier and more confident. 

Similar to the bike, an elliptical machine will also release endorphins through aerobic exercises. However, unlike an exercise bike, the elliptical machine engages more of your body. I know I stated that earlier, but it's an important factor to consider. 

When pushing and pulling the handlebars, the elliptical machine will incorporate your upper body, enabling you to tone more than your thighs in the same amount of time. 

This equipment is basically a more joint-forgiving version of a treadmill. It allows your knees, hips and ankles to move in natural ways, similar to running or walking, but without the hard impact through your feet. 

Which Is Best for Weight Loss?

If your end goal is to burn more calories and lose weight, the elliptical machine would be the best option for heavier people, for the sole reason that it engages more of your body which naturally burns more fat. 

However, in saying this, it's important to consider one vital factor before you spend any money; for weight loss to be successful, it's not all about which machine engages more of your body, but rather how versatile you can make your workouts

To lose weight, a significant amount of time must be spent on that machine, so if you can't switch up your regimen, you're likely to get bored faster. 

Based on these facts, an elliptical machine might be too simple in terms of variation. Yes, you can increase resistance, but other than that, it's pretty basic. 

A bike, on the other hand, gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself a bit more, for example by standing, taking off the seat (if you can), or going "uphill." In other words, it allows more space to be creative, which in turn, may help you burn more calories on a stationary bike.

Which Is Best for Getting Fit?

If you're looking to get fit, increase your endurance and exercise your cardiovascular system, you can't really go wrong with either machine. 

As stated earlier, they will both provide a thorough cardio workout, while being relatively low impact. They just work differently. An elliptical machine will be more demanding, but it will mostly depend on you.

In contrast to a treadmill, these two machines are very easy on the joints and knees, which means you can take it one step further. Cardio exercises will better your endurance as well as cardiovascular system, so having a low-impact cardio machine will only benefit. This will include lowered risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Which Is Best for Muscle Toning?

Many of us have a goal of defining and toning our muscles through exercise. Now an exercise bike and elliptical machine won't do much to your muscle mass as they are cardio machines. However, they can improve muscle tone. 

The elliptical machine, for instance, will work up to 80 percent of the body's muscles, including your biceps, core and chest area. You can choose to work specific muscle groups by resting your arms, or pedaling backward. 

But don’t rule out the exercise bike just yet. By making a few adjustments, you are actually able to work muscles, such as core and arms, which might just help you get that sought-after toned body. 

If you’re looking to tone your body, this video might give you a more in-depth answer:

Which Is Best for Space?

If you live in a small house or apartment where space is an issue, the exercise bike will be the one to choose. Although there are smaller elliptical machines available, a bike is generally a lot more compact and ideal for smaller spaces. 

Most are quite moveable, which means it'll be easy to store away and pull it out when needed. 


Which one is better? The bottom line is that both are equally great; they simply work differently. 

If you must choose, consider your end goal. They're both great for beginners, recovering injuries and building endurance while toning your muscles, so really you can't go wrong with either one. 

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