Elliptical Vs Bike Comparison

Elliptical Vs Bike: Which Fitness Equipment Is Right For You?

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Billy Hughes
August 25, 2021
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You have tons of fitness equipment from which to choose when you want to torch calories and become fitter.

Two popular ones to consider are the elliptical machine and stationary bike.

What are similarities between the elliptical and bike?

Both of these fitness equipment types offer you aerobic exercise, which has many benefits such as improving your lung health.

They also have many other similarities, but there are important differences you should know about. Let’s check them out in greater detail so you can start using the one that makes your workouts better.  

What Is The Elliptical Machine?

what is elliptical machine

An elliptical machine is a piece of gym equipment that’s basically a cardio machine.

How it works is that your legs move and your arms swing while holding the handlebars. It allows you to walk, run, or climb but without putting pressure on your body.

This is why this machine is sometimes called a glider.

Pros

  • The elliptical machine offers excellent cardio workouts that you can do in the gym or at home. Since it’s such a good aerobic workout, the elliptical machine strengthens the muscles, heart, and lungs.
  • It enables you to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. While you should take personal factors into account, such as your weight, you can essentially burn between 270 and 400 calories in just half an hour.
  • It’s easy on your joints. One of the best things about the elliptical machine is that your feet don’t lift off the pedals, which means that it’s safer for your hips, ankles, and knees.
  • An elliptical machine that has handles can ensure you get an upper- and lower-body workout, which is something you won’t achieve with many cardio machines. 

Cons

  • An elliptical machine activates the muscles differently, as compared to other types of exercise. If you’re not used to it, this can result in injury.
  • It won’t give you as much leg strength. Since this machine offers lower impact exercise as compared to walking or running, you won’t be able to use it to gain a lot of strength in your legs. You will then have to include other exercises into your workout routine in order to gain more comprehensive fitness.
  • An elliptical machine is very low impact, which has another drawback: if you want more intense workouts you might find using an elliptical machine is a bit boring or doesn’t challenge you enough. 

What Is The Stationary Bike Good For? 

What Is The Stationary Bike Good For?

A stationary bike comes in different forms, such as the air bike, spin bike, and recumbent bike.

Essentially, you’ll sit on a stationary bike in the same way as you would on an outdoor bike and hold onto the handlebars.

On some bikes, such as a spin bike, you can stand; on others, such as an air bike, you can get an upper-body workout by using the handlebars.

If you love cycling, using a stationary bike has many benefits – for one, you don’t have to worry about your cycling workout being interrupted by factors outside of your control, such as bad weather!

Pros

  • Using a stationary bike is a low-impact exercise. This means that, much like what you’ll experience on an elliptical machine, using a stationary bike is gentle on your joints.
  • Cycling on a stationary bike is safer than cycling outdoors. You don’t have to worry about traffic or falling and hurting yourself on the road.
  • Unlike when cycling outdoors, you don’t have to keep an eye on your surroundings or slow down at certain times, such as because there are cars on the road. You can focus solely on your workout and increase your speed and intensity whenever you want.

Cons

  • It’s not recommended to use a stationary bike when training for a cycling event or race as it won’t properly mimic outdoor conditions.
  • You might become a bit bored with riding a stationary bike at home as compared to cycling outdoors.
  • You generally won’t get much of an upper-body workout when using a stationary bike. You will have to include other exercises and workouts to achieve this, such as by cycling while holding weights. 

Elliptical Vs Bike: How Do They Compare?

As we’ve seen in the previous section, elliptical machines and stationary bikes share some similarities.

These include how they’re low-impact and aerobic equipment. But how do they compare when it comes to certain features and factors? Let’s see!

Calorie Burn

calories burned on elliptical machine

If you want to torch more calories and lose weight, you will achieve that with an elliptical machine. As we already mentioned earlier in the article, you can burn between 270 and 400 calories in a 30-minute session.

By comparison, working out on a stationary bike can burn around 300 calories in 30 minutes. However, it’s possible to burn over 600 calories an hour if you increase the intensity of your workout.

So, both pieces of equipment offer a good amount of calorie burn.

Injury Risk

You naturally want to stay safe when working out, so you might wonder whether the elliptical machine or stationary bike is safer for your health.

Since both of them are low-impact exercises, they are generally safer than what you’ll experience during other activities, such as jogging or running. As long as you use them correctly, such as by setting up your bike before you cycle, you can avoid aches and pains. 

Although they are similar in many ways, the stationary exercise bike doesn’t require you to have good coordination like the elliptical machine does, however you’re more likely to experience lower back pain when using a bike instead of the elliptical.

It’s worth bearing in mind that any piece of fitness equipment carries an injury risk, so the type you choose should have benefits that outweigh it and accommodate you in the best way, such as if you have a health condition like a weak back or arthritis in your knees.

Muscles Used

working out on elliptical machine at gym

The elliptical machine targets a variety of muscles, such as those in the back, your biceps, core, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

By comparison, the stationary bike gives muscles such as the calves, hamstrings, quads, core, and glutes a good workout. If you choose to use a bike that has handles, you can also engage the biceps, triceps, and even the shoulders. 

Machine Durability

If you invest in an elliptical machine, you’ll be glad to know that it can last for up to 20 years. However, some maintenance is important to keep it going strong.

You should clean the machine regularly to remove a buildup of sweat, dirt, and dust that can damage it. You will also need to ensure you lubricate it every few months to reduce wear and tear.

A stationary bike can also last for up to 20 years, and it also requires a bit of regular maintenance. After every workout, you should wipe down  your bike to remove sweat from the seat, handlebars, and sensors to ensure that all its components will continue to work properly. You should also lubricate the chain of your stationary bike from time to time. 

Workout Variability

If you’re the type of person who likes to mix up their workouts every now and then to keep things interesting or work through fitness plateaus, you should invest in an elliptical machine instead of a stationary bike.

This is because you can do various movements on it, such as moving forward and backward, or choosing the incline you want to use for your workout. You can also vary the machine’s resistance.

While the stationary bike does let you adjust its resistance level, which can help you to enjoy more vigorous workouts, you won’t have as many options to vary your workout when using it as compared to an elliptical machine.

Space

space amount for stationary bike

When buying exercise equipment, you’ll want to ensure that it will have enough space in the home. If you’re short on space, your best bet is to invest in an exercise bike.

This is because you can find models that fold up which makes them very compact. That said, some heavy-duty air or recumbent bikes will be bulkier, so that’s something to bear in mind.

However, generally, an elliptical machine will be larger and bulkier, as well as take up more space, than a regular exercise bike. 

Price

If you want to buy fitness equipment for your home, you’ll need to think about its cost. The average cost of an elliptical machine is between $1,000 and $2,000. However, you can also find elliptical machines that cost less than $300 or even $200.

By comparison, purchasing a stationary bike is usually more affordable. You can find stationary bikes that cost $200 all the way up to $2,000 or more.

The most important thing when choosing an elliptical machine or stationary bike is to ensure that it’s well made and of a good quality. 

What To Look For In An Elliptical Machine 

If you want to buy an elliptical machine, there are some important features to look for, so let’s check them out.

  • Check the flywheel weight. Make sure the flywheel isn’t too light as its weight will determine the resistance it can offer. The more weight, the more resistance you’ll experience when you move faster. This means you’ll have to put in more effort to reach your optimal speed. If you intend on using the machine regularly, make sure the flywheel is approximately between 24 and 46 pounds.
  • Look for an adjustable incline. This setting helps you to target different muscle groups and also adds greater variety to your exercise routines.
  • Ensure you’ll have adjustable resistance. You can find many models on the market that have up to 20 or more resistance levels, but make sure it’s easy to change the resistance on your machine for greater ease of use. 

What To Look For In A Stationary Bike 

stationary bike pros and cons

If you’d rather purchase a stationary bike for your home gym, you should ensure it ticks the following boxes so you can get the best workout according to your preferences.

  • Adjustable seat. You want to be able to adjust the bike’s seat vertically (or, up and down) and horizontally (forward and backward). 
  • Adjustable handlebars. In a similar way, the handlebars should allow for adjustments that are vertical and horizontal so that you’ll be able to find the most comfortable fit. 
  • Adjustable resistance. As with an elliptical machine, you want your bike to have different resistance levels to choose from, but make sure the bike has a digital resistance control so that it’s more user-friendly than if you need to turn a knob. 

Related Questions 

Which piece of fitness equipment is better for beginners?

beginners choice

If you want to start out with an exercise routine, you’ll want to invest in the most user-friendly gym equipment.

The bike has an edge over the elliptical machine as it’s easy for anyone to use, especially because of how it’s so similar to a road bike.

Which one is better for building muscle?

Neither the stationary bike nor the elliptical machine score top marks for helping you to build muscle. However, the bike can help you build some strength and muscle so it’s worth using.

Conclusion 

If you want to increase the amount of exercise you do at home, you might consider purchasing some gym equipment.

But, which one is better – the elliptical machine or stationary bike?

In this article, we’ve looked at the pros and cons of both of them, as well as how they compare when it comes to important factors, such as their variability, cost, and more. 

Sources: 

Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes is a fitness trainer based out of New York. She has registered success in training clients at multiple fitness centers and thus aims to establish her module relevant to the post-pandemic era. Her space, Cerevellum.com, is an attempt towards encouraging and educating more people on the scope of indoor fitness. She believes the power of fitness can transform attitude, personality, and way of living. She also finds it rewarding to help people achieve their goals and make their lives better.