Elliptical Vs Bike – Which One Do You Really Need?

Written By, Perry Knight
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It must be frustrating to be limited to your home and not going out just for a little exercise, especially those that are really good to be done outside like cycling and running. Getting your body moved and feeling the wind run through your body are what makes those exercises really enjoyable.

But when you can’t go outside and your body itches for some cardiovascular exercise, or we can just call it cardio, what should you do? There are a lot of machine trainers that have functionalities to simulate the exercise we’ve discussed in the opening like Elliptical machines and Stationary Bikes.

If we look at both of the machines, we can see that they somehow share some similarities, but it’s obvious that they are different. In this article, we will walk you through these two particular indoor exercises machines and discuss which one fits you more.

Elliptical Machine

Let’s start off with the Elliptical Machine.

This exercise machine is really good to get all of your body moving. It combines a stair stepper and ski machine characteristics which can be used to train your legs as well as the movable handle to train your arms along with your legs. This allows you to move your arms in the same rhythm with your legs.

Elliptical machines also give you the benefits of a treadmill, but with less impact on your joints. When you are running on a treadmill, you’ll likely get some impacts on your joints like knees, ankles, and hips. 

In the elliptical machine, you make the same movements but this time assisted by the pedals and the handles. The machine itself uses circular, or elliptical, movement to simulate a natural walking or running motions. What’s more is that this machine also allows you to make backwards movements which you aren’t probably going to get from a treadmill.

Because of all that capability this machine has, you can hit various muscle groups from glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, back, chest, and even core.

On top of that, elliptical machines are also equipped with adjustable levels like the resistance and the inclines to make the exercise fit your needs.

Benefits of Elliptical Machine

Now that we’ve already discussed the overview of what kind of machine the elliptical machine is, let’s talk about what kind of benefits you can get from it.

Due to its characteristics, elliptical machines are able to provide you benefits such as:

  • Safe for joints. You won’t get the same impacts on the joints while doing the movements because most of the time your movements will be assisted or touching the surfaces, so at no points that it will cause impacts.
  • Good for whole body exercise. The machine is designed with movable handles that allow the users to move their arms along their lower body. This involves more muscles than just lower body muscles.
  • Improving strength. Because of the adjustable resistance and incline, you can make the exercise more difficult to engage more muscles.
  • Improving endurance and cardiovascular health. Elliptical machines exercise your blood circulation systems which can build up stamina when doing over time.
  • Versatile. The elliptical machines are built with adjustable levels and two types of handles: fixed and movable. This way, you have more options on what kind of training you will be doing on this machine.
  • Losing weight. Study shows that elliptical machines can be a good way to burn calories and lose weight. For example, in a 30minutes session, a 125-pound person can burn around 270 calories.

Aspects to Consider

Between the two machines we are covering in this article, you might want to look at these aspects when choosing either of them:

  • Impact to joints. Some training machines like treadmills can cause impacts on your joints as you land your feet and generate power against the flow of the machine. In elliptical machines, there won’t be any moment where you should be making movements like that since your feet will always be supported by the platform.
  • Body part targeted. With elliptical machines, you can engage your whole body, even the core, as you move.  
  • Your body balance. Since this machine can require your body to move along with your legs and it’s making circular motion, it can be a problem if you have balance issues.

Recommended Type of Training

If you are planning to use a elliptical training machine, you must know that you can have more than one variety of exercises you can do with it.

First, you can do regular endurance training with little resistance to build up more stamina. Or you can do a  resistance training by increasing the resistance of the machine to engage more muscles. You can also pedal it backward instead of regular forward motions to target muscles like the hamstrings and glutes.

You can also choose to work on your whole body or just your lower body by switching between the movable handles and the fixed handles.

Stationary Bike

Onto the second one on the article, it is the stationary bike.

This indoor training machine is built to simulate how you would ride your bike on the road. Like it’s name, this bike stays at one place and doesn’t move when you pedal it.

Stationary bike, or also known as an exercise bike, right here is also a good machine for a cardio workout. Compared to the elliptical machine, it requires less coordination which makes it easier to use.

Even though stationary bikes are mainly targeting your lower body, depending on your position while pedaling, you can also engage other parts of your body like arms and core.

This machine also provides you with adjustable resistance to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Some of the latest products even have the ability to simulate a climb.

One last thing about this machine, because it’s similar to how a bike works, it’s also safer for your joints.

Benefits of Stationary Bike

Now that we’ve got the overview done, let’s get to something that is more interesting and appealing, the benefits.

Surely this exercise machine isn’t just there to make your body move, but there has to be some benefits that can come from you moving your body with this machine, which are:

  • Low impact. This exercise machine can be said to be the easiest on your body and joints compared to other machines.
  • Improving cardiovascular capacity and endurance. Because of the nature of this exercise, it can help you to build resistance to diseases like diabetes and hypertension. You can also be benefited with the ability to sustain an effort for a long period of time when you keep training.
  • Toning muscles and increasing strength. Mainly works on your thighs and calves. Depending on the resistance and your position, you can also work on other muscles as well and build up the strength over time.
  • Burning fat. Thanks to the high intensity that this exercise machine allows you to do, you can burn more fats when compared to more slow-paced exercises.

Aspects to Consider 

When you are going to use the exercise bike, there are some aspects that you need to pay attention to aside from the benefits that we’ve already mentioned before.

To make it simple, let’s make it into a list like we did before:

  • The price. Exercise bikes tend to be more economically priced when compared to the elliptical and most of the exercise machines.
  • Purpose of training. If your plan is to work on your whole body, this type of exercise machine might not be what you are looking for. But if you aim to exercise your legs and build endurance, this is the thing for you.
  • Who the user will be. For older people and for people who are in rehab, like for knee injuries, a stationary bike really suits them because it’s safe for the joints and has no impact.
  • Limited type of exercises. Unlike the elliptical machine, the stationary bike only works on your lower body, mainly on thighs and calves, and maybe a little bit of core. Although by changing positions you can get more muscles to work on, but it might not work some of the products.

Recommended Type of Training

If you are training using a stationary bike, there isn’t much to do with it but pushing yourself to maintain a certain speed or watt output for a certain period of time. 

You can also do some resistance training by increasing the resistance level of the pedal to hard and vary how you pedal by getting off the saddle, or dancing.

By doing training that way, you can include your upper body to the exercise and engage your lower body more like the glutes and hips.

Stationary Bike or Elliptical Machine Exercise?

We’ve discussed both elliptical machine and stationary bikes one by one, to get a clearer view on each of them. But how are they when compared directly using these comparisons.

Staying Fit

Both of the exercise machines work for cardiovascular workout to improve your endurance and oxygen efficiency. How they work on that helps you achieve that also similar by making circular movement with the pedals.

But this is how they are different. Elliptical machines work on your whole body with the combination of their pedals and their movable handles. Meanwhile, stationary bikes, like any bike, are more focused on your legs and demand more of the power of your legs.

Toning Your Muscles

There is actually some kind of misconception about building on toning muscle that says we can only gain muscle by lifting heavy weights. Muscles are built by engaging them to work on something, even standing let you do this. 

In both of these machines, you are engaging muscles by working it against the resistance on the pedals. Although in an elliptical bike you are toning your muscle by walking or running on the pedals which will engage the muscles on your glutes, calves, hips, and thighs. Meanwhile in a stationary bike, you will be more heavily focused on your thighs and calves.

Losing Weight

Both of these machines are good for high intensity training which will result in more calories burnt. 

If both machines are used in the same intensity, the elliptical machine holds more advantage on burning calories since more body parts and muscles are engaged in the activity. However, because bikes are easier to use, you can push yourself to get more intense on your workout and burn more calories.

By keeping on doing this, you will end up burning the calories from your fats cells which would help you lose weight.

Similarities Between The Two

We’ve mentioned it several times in some of the discussions before that elliptical machines and stationary bikes have some similarities.

Not only are they both a cardio training machine, but they are both using pedals as their main medium of the workout. Both of them also make circular movements to work on your legs.

Some of the elliptical machines are even built like a bike with the saddle and handles but with the movable handles. So these two machines are so similar in more than just one way. Even so, they are two different things.

So, What is Your Pick?

After looking at the overviews and the considerations about the two machines, you should already have a rough idea of what you are going to work with.

Both of the machines are safe for your joints, so you don’t have to worry about them causing you some injuries later on. If you are planning to work on your whole body, i’d suggest the elliptical machine, but if you are planning to have more intense training sessions, maybe the bikes are what better for you. 

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Author
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.

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