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Elliptical vs Stationary Bike: Which Is Better?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Are you confused about which is better elliptical vs stationary bike? You have many studies and experiences of people in front of you but still, you can’t decide which one of them is best for you. We understand your concern. That’s why in this article, we have come up with different research experts’ advice and weight loss results that can help you determine which is better elliptical vs bike. Let’s get started.

Elliptical Cross-Trainer Machine

An elliptical also called a cross trainer is a low-impact stationary exercise machine used for cardiovascular fitness. It stimulates walking, running, and stair climbing while working both the upper and lower body. 

Two men at the gym trying the elliptical vs bike comparison
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Exercising on an elliptical bike feels like your arms and legs are effortlessly gliding in sync with each other while your body is burning calories. Elliptical trainers have no seats and are generally considered safe for the elderly.

Exercise Bike

An exercise bike, on the other hand, is an equipment that is pedaled just like a bicycle exercise. Bikes provide a low-impact workout that can strengthen and tone the muscles of the legs and hips. The popularity of these machines has recently been driven in part by spinning classes also called group cycling classes that motivate people to lose weight.

A woman at home doing an elliptical vs bike comparison
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The Similarities

Research demonstrates that working out on elliptical machines or stationary bikes three times per week for six weeks helps you lose weight and body fat. Also, you can do both HIIT and strength training. 

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical
Based on our testing, this is the best budget Elliptical for beginners. For less than 475$, it has most essential features that you've come to expect. It's compact and sturdy, frankly it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 3 years warranty.

They both change your body composition. These exercises are shown to accelerate your resting metabolic rate so that your body cuts your fat stores even when you are resting. 

Interestingly riding ellipticals and stationary bikes offers a big benefit to pre-diabetics. These exercises reduce blood glucose levels that decrease the chances of type 2 diabetes.

Both elliptical and exercise bikes strengthen the heart. Both machines spare your joints and improve bone health but that’s where similarities end for these weight loss devices.

Tip

Not all cardiovascular machines are created equal. Choose one with higher levels of resistance for strength training. If you don’t like to feel your heart racing through the roof, choose the cardio machine with lower resistance. That way you can still burn belly fat without working too hard.

The Differences

The differences between these types of equipment are way more than the similarities. So, let’s talk about them.

1. A Seat

Elliptical trainers, as we discussed, don’t have a seat while stationary bikes do have a seat. Some electric bikes have seats like racing bikes. Others have bike seats like normal bikes.

2. Body Impact

In elliptical bikes, two movable handles are mechanically linked to the pedals. Holding these handles you work your upper body muscles, more specifically arms and shoulders along with the lower body. The motion of a person on an elliptical machine is close to walking and running. So, the muscles work easily in this cardiovascular exercise and overcome resistance.

On the other hand, recumbent bikes are gentle devices, especially for your joints. Working out on this piece of equipment helps increase the mobility of joints. All you need to do is to take a seat and move your leg muscles to the pedal.

3. Muscle Groups Worked

Elliptical bikes are demanding pieces of fitness equipment that work nearly all the muscles of your body. While exercise bikes focus mainly on the lower body. 

The plus point of elliptical bikes is that they target the abdominal area of the body which contains the most stubborn fat around it. So, the question that often arises is: 

4. Should You Ride Elliptical vs a Bike for Belly Fat Burn? 

The answer to this question lies in the intensity and duration of the cardio workout. Because spot reduction is not supported by science. Therefore whether you are using an exercise bike or an elliptical bike you can burn calories that will reduce fat from all over the body not just in one area.

According to research published in the Journal of Obesity, high-intensity interval workouts on any machine are effective ways to lose belly fat because they speed up your metabolism.

So, if you do high-intensity interval training on either an exercise bike or an elliptical bike, it counts almost equally.

A man wondering which between elliptical vs bike is the best
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5. Time to Learn the Technique 

Elliptical bikes due to their whole new design may give some tough time at the start. You will need proper instructions from the trainer to ride this machine. While there is no such difficulty with an exercise bike. It’s just like you’re riding your old bicycle. You just have to pedal to run this machine for weight loss. So, no new technique needs to be learned for riding an exercise bike. 

The exercise bike is also an excellent option for beginners because it requires less coordination and balance as compared to elliptical bikes.

6. Elliptical vs Bike: What to Choose to Keep Fit When Injured

Elliptical bikes are a good option for the maintenance of fitness even if you were nursing an injury. This is because it is a low-impact exercise machine that puts less stress on the joints.

Many fitness experts think that working out on an elliptical bike after an injury can help you gain a full range of motion.

Exercise bikes at the same time also prove to be effective cardio workout machines for people with joint pain and body injuries. According to a 2021 review, stationary cycling exercise relieves pain in individuals with knee osteoarthritis

Another study reports that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who trained on indoor stationary bikes as a part of a workout program strengthened their muscles and reduced disease activity just after six months.

So, if you are rehabbing a joint injury or getting back into shape after taking time off for such an injury, you should choose stationary bikes. Because sitting position on a stationary bike puts less pressure on the injured lower limb than standing on an elliptical bike.

7. Calorie Burn

The next difference between elliptical and exercise bikes that you may count on is calorie difference. 

Both elliptical and exercise bikes can provide an easy or challenging total-body workout. Depending upon your ability to adjust the resistance levels, it is generally considered that elliptical bikes provide a full-body workout. So they can help burn more calories. But this is not the only criteria to determine the number of calories burned. 

Calorie Burn on Elliptical

Body weight, intensity, and duration of workout matter when we calculate calories burnt by a cardiovascular workout session. For example, a 125-pound person performing an elliptical workout for 30 minutes burns 270 calories. While a person weighing 155 pounds performing the same intensity workout for the same duration burns 330 calories. See? The weight makes a difference. 

On average an elliptical workout burns 270 to 380 calories. Exercise bikes, however, burn a comparatively lesser amount of calories.

Calorie Burn on Bike

According to the Guidelines of Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound person doing moderate-intensity stationary bicycling burns 210 calories. While a 155-pound person burns 250 to 260 calories in 30 minutes.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical
Based on our testing, this is the best budget Elliptical for beginners. For less than 475$, it has most essential features that you've come to expect. It's compact and sturdy, frankly it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 3 years warranty.

So, if you are looking for a full-body weight-loss machine, an elliptical bike is the best option. But if you want to tone your lower body muscles and maintain fitness with a joint injury, we will suggest you exercise on a bike. 

Now here’s a tip for you

If you want to lose weight, you have to keep the focus on your heart rate. Your heart rate must increase above the normal value to burn calories as it indicates the intensity of the workout. 

Experts say that the fat-burning heart rate is at about 70 of your maximum heart rate. So, keep tracking the heart rate for healthy weight loss.

A group of people doing an elliptical vs bike comparison
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8. Cost

Exercise bikes are less expensive compared to elliptical machines. Elliptical bikes are on the higher end as their prices range from $300 to $3,000 which is nearly impossible for an individual to buy.

However, the price range of exercise bikes is somewhere around $150-1500. That’s why they are accessible to everyone.

But before buying any machine, keep in mind that while cheaper machines may not provide the best quality, a high-priced product doesn’t necessarily mean that it will provide high quality. So, be careful about spending your money.

9. Space

Exercise bikes also tend to accommodate less space compared to elliptical bikes. Exercise bikes can be as small as 150 cm in width and 130 cm in height. Whereas elliptical bikes are 150 cm long, 60 cm wide, and 160 cm high.

This makes exercise bikes a perfect workout machine that can be used easily in a compact area. 

10. Elliptical vs Bike: What Is the Most Fun?

Fun intense workouts increase your motivation compared to the boring ones, so you keep coming back for more. Also, stressful aerobic exercises increase your cortisol levels. And experts show that excess cortisol in your system makes your body store more fat.

Elliptical vs Bike: FAQs

Is elliptical or bike better for weight loss?

So, if you want a full-body workout for quick weight loss, no doubt elliptical bikes are a better option. But if you were looking for a machine that is budget-friendly and can help you tone your lower body while you were experiencing some injury, then exercise bikes are a great choice.

What burns more belly fat elliptical or bike?

Through riding a stationary bike you can lose belly fat but this workout will not tone the muscles of your belly area. Instead, the elliptical bike may help lose belly fat, tone and strengthen the core muscles.

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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