Elliptical vs Bike


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by Shutterstock

Elliptical and exercise bikes are examples of cardio machines, which are machines that work your cardiovascular system. Exercising on one of these equipment helps your heart beat faster and your lungs work more effectively in delivering oxygen to your muscles. 

Ellipticals and bikes also help tone the lower body muscles as you use them. Cardio machines like those are excellent for shedding body fat and increasing endurance.

However, in elliptical versus bike, which among the two should you purchase for your home gym? Here is information to help you make an informed choice.

What Is an Elliptical?

An elliptical exercise equipment, which you may have heard called an X-trainer, is a stationary bike that you can use to walk, stair-climb and run without causing too much harm to your joints.

An elliptical trainer is a weight-bearing exercise machine that is low-impact. You can either propel the machine using your own motion or plug it into an electrical outlet so you can adjust the motion and control its resistance.

How to Use an Elliptical Machine

Even though an elliptical trainer has handle levers to work the arms and offer additional driving force, the trainer is driven primarily by the user’s legs.

The procedure for using it may vary depending on the model, but all are similar in that you get to adapt a comfortable standing position with your spine in a neutral position (straight back).

You align your knees, hips, and ankles and ensure that your weight is distributed between the heels and balls of your feet. Once your standing position is set, grab the handrails and stride in a forward or reverse motion while ensuring you reach the full range of motion continuously and without straining.

The handles must be gripped below shoulder height then pulled and pushed while shuffling the feet back and forth along elliptically shaped paths.

To ensure both your hands and legs get meaningful workouts, you should consider purchasing a machine that is in its optimal state. It has a better chance of being more balanced and better designed.

You can try an interval training routine, where you do high-intensity work for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat the cycle as often as you can.

To maximize fat burning and endurance, increase the workout intensity.

The Benefits of Using the Elliptical

If you find yourself often waiting in line at the gym to use an elliptical machine, you are not alone.

It is among the most sought-after machine in most cardio fitness centers. If you are looking for a low-impact yet effective cardio workout machine, consider buying an elliptical.

The following are reasons to use an elliptical trainer:

+ Puts Less Stress on Your Joints

One of the reasons why the elliptical is so famous even among athletes is that it allows them to train the cardiovascular system without putting pressure on the joints.

Since your feet never leaves the strides, you are able to avoid the pounding your joints would get on a treadmill or other cardio machines.

+ Allows You to Achieve Your Workout Goals Easily

This machine can be compared to a treadmill when it comes to its effectiveness in working the leg muscles and heart.

However, since you will not take your feet off the machine’s pedals, you will not have to put up with the footfall noise that a treadmill has.

As a beginner, you will not have to stride longer. As you adapt, lengthening the elliptical machine trainer’s stride will help you work more muscle groups and expend more calories without any additional exertion.

What Kinds of Elliptical Exercise Machines Exist?

Three types of elliptical machines exist, and they are categorized by the location of the motor location. The earliest is the rear-drive type, the second-earliest type is the front-drive type, and the most recent elliptical model is the center-drive machine.

Some machines allow the user to adjust the slant of the inclined roller-ramps underneath the lever links to create unique pedal movements. Changing the angle of this path also affects the elliptical path angle that influences the stride length and hip actuation. Changing these aspects of the elliptical allows you to alter your workout and work different lower body muscle groups.

Today’s elliptical comes with pre-set programs to change the incline, resistance, and stride of the machine to change the intensity and muscle groups you work. Others can be driven in either the forward or backward direction.

The following is a look on exercise bikes in the elliptical vs. bike discussion:

What Is an Exercise Bicycle?

This is a special purpose stationary cardio machine designed with wheels to be spun for exercise. It is a low-impact, joint-friendly exercise machine for toning lower body muscles. Most bikes come with a resistance adjustment option so you can vary your workouts from beginner level to top-fitness level.

Types of Stationary Bikes

There are three types of exercise bikes, all of which have different benefits. Depending on your fitness level and workout goals, you can switch between different machines for variety or just focus on one machine.

+ Upright Bikes

The upright bike is the more popular kind of exercise bike. It is similar to a regular bicycle because it has its pedals positioned right under your body when you get on it. You can either stand or sit to work various muscles and get a great cardio workout. The downside of this machine is its small seat, which can be uncomfortable over long workouts and the strain on your wrists during the standing stance.

+ Recumbent Bike

This bike allows you to sit in a reclined position on a larger seat whose position is back relative to the pedals. This bike is great for low-intensity cardio because it offers full support for the body and places less stress on your lower back, upper body, and joints. After working on this machine, you will not experience as much soreness and fatigue as you would on any other cardio machine.

Recumbent exercise bikes are recommended for people with limited mobility, injuries, back pain, or joint problems. It is also a safe place to start for older adults or people completely new to exercise.

+ Dual-Action Workout

As its name suggests, this kind of bike is designed to work both your upper and lower body. It comes with handlebars that resemble those of an elliptical that move back and forth so you can work your upper body muscles.

As you work your leg muscles on the pedals, you will also get a great upper body workout on this machine.

Other kinds of bikes you may come across include the air bike, which has a fan at the front. This unique bike creates wind resistance as you pedal, making your workout so much tougher. The faster you pedal, the faster the fan’s blades rotate, creating more resistance.

If you are looking for high-intensity cardio and lower body strength workout, look for a fan bike. You may also find an indoor bike class that is characterized by an elevated seat, just like a normal mountain bike would be.

Benefits of Using the Exercise Bike

+ It Is Way Safer Than Riding Outdoors

Cycling is one of the most fulfilling forms of outdoor exercise, but if you live in an estate where motorists can be problematic, consider investing in an exercise bike.

An indoor cycling workout helps you avoid the risk of being hit by motorists, falling due to poor visibility or slick road surfaces, and inattentive pedestrians. The weather may not be friendly to go work out outside, which may mean a lot of days without getting any exercise in the winter. With an exercise bike, you can work out safely and comfortably indoors.

+ It Allows You to Alter the Intensity of Your Workout

As a beginner or on days when you feel weak and exhausted, you can start slowly over a short while, and then add speed and time to improve intensity.

Start with a 20-to-30-minute workout, after which you can add one minute as your fitness improves. You can also try switching high intensity for two minutes followed by medium intensity work for five minutes twice, then end with a five-minute low-intensity workout.

When your fitness improves and you are feeling much stronger, you can move up to an interval training routine. Pedal at low intensity first for 10 minutes, switch three times between two-minute high-intensity and two-minute low-intensity pedaling, then cool down by pedaling at low intensity for 10 minutes.

+ It Will Increase Your Joint Mobility

If you are worried about tension among your joints, consider working on an exercise bike. It is low-impact, meaning that it will not ruin your joints while it strengthens them.

If you are recovering from a long illness or injury, ease back into exercises so you can improve your range of motion. However, if you have severe joint mobility issues, see a health professional before embarking on any exercise to get the best advice regarding muscle activation, body position, and joint stress.

How Do You Choose the Right Kind of Exercise Bike?

Start by trying different seats or saddles to find one that is most comfortable and whose seat height is adjustable. You also need to take note of its dimensions so that it fits your home gym or flat. If you have back issues, choose a bike with a backrest.

If the handlebars are adjustable, this is a considerable bonus because it will minimize the strain on your wrists. Moreover, one whose resistance is adjustable allows you to work out both when you are strong and fit and when you are feeling rather weak without straining.

What Safety Tips Should I Consider When Using an Exercise Bike?

The repetitive cycling motion can cause serious muscle fatigue or injury. You also want to maintain the right posture on the machine. If you start feeling muscle fatigue, take a 48-hour break to give your muscles time to rejuvenate.

Exercise bikes are common in group classes, and you might feel compelled to keep up with a class. If the spin class gets you too exhausted or you get injured, do not push yourself. Excessive motion can cause serious injuries that can land you in the ER and off the bike for months.

Before you start pedaling, ensure you are properly balanced on the bike to avoid falling or other kinds of injuries and scrapes. If you are new to exercise or have hypertension or any other cardiac issue, talk to a doctor before embarking on any exercise routine.

Elliptical Vs. Bike: Calories

Which burns more calories, elliptical or bike? The following explanation gives us the answer:

A 155-pound (70kg) person using an elliptical trainer without lifting their feet off the stride expends 390 calories over 30 minutes. If a person of the same weight uses an exercise bike at a speed of 13-15mph, they will burn about 300 calories.

On the elliptical, you can burn up to 15% more calories. The elliptical allows you to burn more calories, especially since you work while standing, which means more work on the muscles you depend on for balance. However, these numbers will not matter if you vary the intensity correctly.

A high-resistance cardio workout on an exercise bike will definitely burn more calories than a slower workout on an elliptical.

Elliptical Vs. Bike: Price

Both elliptical and exercise bikes are competitively priced, and you will not have to break the bank to get a decent, reliable exercise machine.

Exercise equipment can cost anywhere between $400 and $2,500 depending on the brand, features, and quality. While cheaper machines may not provide the best experience, a high price does not necessarily mean high quality. An exercise bike on online shopping platforms costs between $80 and $300, while an elliptical exercise machine costs between $200 and $2,000.

However, when shopping for an elliptical, spend between $1,000 and $2,000 for a long-term investment that will come with a reliable warranty, features to help you track your progress, and the balance you need to work both your upper and lower body.

Elliptical vs. Bike: Joints

Both the elliptical and exercise bike are great for joints because they are low-impact cardio exercise machines.

Since the feet absorb 2-3 times one's body weight during exercise, pain in the hips, knees, or ankles can be avoided by using any of these two. However, ellipticals are more weight-bearing, and the stationary bike is better recommended by specialists for people with severe joint pain. The recumbent bike is better for joint and back pain because it takes pressure off the back and hips.

Elliptical vs. Bike: Space

The exercise bike may take up less space compared to an elliptical. It can be as small as 1m by 50cm wide and 1m 30cm high, compared to an elliptical’s 1m 50 cm long, 60cm wide, and 1m 60cm high. The stationary bike is therefore the best option for someone living in a compact flat.


+ What Muscles Does The Elliptical Machine Work?

The elliptical, being a cardio machine, is not a suitable exercise machine for building muscle mass.

It will, however, help you tone several muscle groups in your upper and lower body. It works the back, arms (triceps and biceps), chest, and abs. in your lower body, the machine will work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. When you abandon the handlebars, you concentrate all the effort on your lower body muscles.

+ What Is Better for Knees, Exercise Bike or Elliptical?

Both the elliptical trainer and the stationary exercise bike are good for strengthening the knees because keeping them mobile and active will prevent further damage.

However, the exercise bike wins for people looking for a cardio machine less strenuous on the knees.

It is more comfortable to use and requires less force to drive the machine, unlike the elliptical where you must support your entire weight while you stand. You can always reduce the strain on the knees while using a bike by adjusting its seat far from the pedals. Because you exercise while standing on an elliptical, your motion can exacerbate existing knee problems. Research organizations like arthritis.org and the NCBI recommend a recumbent bike for people with knee issues or recovering from knee surgery.

+ Cycling Vs. Elliptical: Which Is Better for Toning Legs?

To tone the legs, you need to work these muscle groups consistently while offering rest between workout sessions.

Both the elliptical and stationary bike allows you to work your leg muscle (glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves) while you rely on your upper body for balance. A stationary bike is more efficient at targeting the quads and hamstrings. For a more strenuous workout, consider increasing the resistance and alternating your cardio workout on these machines with weight training for muscle-mass building.

Both the elliptical and exercise bikes are quite close on the list.

They let you get your daily cardio exercise and tone your muscles without hurting your joints. With either of these two, you will be able to lose weight, strengthen several muscle groups in your body, and boost your endurance, which is the ability to sustain strenuous effort over long periods.

Personal Trainers in Kansas City

If you're still not sure where to begin with elliptical training and biking—or if you have been doing one or both and feel like you're not getting the results you want—it may be time for you to seek out a personal trainer.

The Port KC Fitness + Performance in Westport has six excellent certified personal trainers who can help answer all of your fitness questions and get you on the right plan for your exercise goals. With a membership at The Port KC, you'll receive 24-hour access to the gym, and there are no binding contracts or down payments required. You can choose to may monthly for just $50 a month or buy a six-month or year package to save some money.

Follow The Port KC Fitness + Performance @theportkc

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