The elliptical and stationary bike are two popular pieces of cardio equipment, and almost every gym in the world has them.
But have you ever wondered which of the two is superior?
Today, we’ll go over the elliptical vs. stationary bike debate and help you choose the one that will work better for you.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
The Pros and Cons Of Elliptical Machines
Let’s go over some pros of elliptical trainers:
1. It Burns A Lot Of Calories And Improves Your Endurance
If you’re looking for an activity that burns through calories at a fast rate, then jump on an elliptical for 30 minutes and see the result.
The truth is, among the many pieces of cardio equipment, the elliptical is one of the best ways to several hundred calories in a relatively short cardio session. The reason is, ellipticals train both the upper and lower body. The more muscles involved, the greater the effort, and the higher the energy needs.
Because the elliptical is so demanding, it also does a fantastic job of improving your endurance and work capacity, thus making you better able to tackle physical stressors and do more work before you start feeling tired.
2. You Can Emphasize Specific Muscles In Your Lower Body
Changing the resistance on an elliptical machine is a standard option. On top of that, many of these machines come with the option of changing the incline of the foot pedals.
By tweaking these variables on a machine, you can emphasize different parts of your lower body more. For example, increasing the level of incline on the pedals, you can emphasize your posterior chain more (the calves, hamstrings, and glutes). If you decrease the incline, you can better target your quadriceps.
3. It’s A Great Way to Stay Fit While Healing an Injury
Let’s face it:
Injuries can be debilitating and incredibly challenging to recover from – both physically, as well as psychologically.
If you’ve ever had to take time off training because of an injury, you probably remember how guilty and sad you felt for staying at home and barely moving.
The great thing about an elliptical trainer is that you can use it to maintain your fitness as you’re working through an injury. Since the activity is low-impact, it puts a lot less stress on your body than other activities like running, lifting weights, and jumping.
Before we move to the stationary bike, here are two cons of ellipticals:
1. It Can Get Repetitive
The most significant roadblock people face when using an elliptical trainer has to do with its repetitiveness. The movement pattern is relatively monotonous, and it can start feeling like a chore eventually.
Because of that, if you want to stick with an elliptical for a long time, it’s essential to find ways to make it more engaging. For example, you can set different challenges and work to overcome them.
2. You Can Unintentionally Slack Off
An overlooked drawback of the elliptical is that you can unintentionally slack off if you’re not careful. The reason is, you get to control the speed with which you move the pedals. Once you become fatigued, you may slow down without even realizing it.
So, you always want to be mindful of that and maintain a consistent and sustainable tempo.
What Benefits And Drawbacks Does a Stationary Bike Offer?
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a stationary bike:
1. It’s A Low-Impact Cardio Option
Much like the elliptical, a stationary bike is a low-impact option, and it’s a fantastic choice for beginners, especially those who are overweight.
Plus, if you have injuries or nagging pains, using a stationary bike is a great way to stay active without risk.
2. It Allows For Some Multitasking
One of the biggest problems people face when doing cardio has to do with boredom: how to keep the activity engaging.
The great thing about stationary bikes is the fact that cycling is not difficult to learn, and you can easily pair it up with other activities. For example, you can listen to your favorite audiobook or podcast. You can also watch Youtube videos on your phone or tablet. If you want, you can also catch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix.
That way, you can keep things much more engaging and use the time even more productively.
3. It Burns Calories And Improves Your Endurance
While the stationary bike doesn’t burn as many calories as an Elliptical, it can still burn hundreds within thirty to sixty minutes. So, if you’re interested in cycling for weight loss, go ahead – this is a great activity.
What’s more, cycling also improves your lung capacity and makes you much more endurant.
With that said, let’s take a look at some drawbacks of the stationary bike:
1. It Mostly Trains Your Quads
Equipment like rowing machines and ellipticals train your entire body. A drawback of stationary bikes is that they mostly train your quad muscles and not much else. So, to develop your upper body, you should do extra work for it.
2. It Doesn’t Burn As Many Calories As An Elliptical
Because the elliptical involves your entire body, you can expect to burn more calories in each workout. The difference for one workout isn’t huge, but it can add up over the weeks and months.
3. It Can Lead to Lower Back Discomfort For Some Folks
To cycle properly, you should keep your back mostly straight. The problem is, keeping that posture becomes difficult as you get fatigued. So, many people slouch, and that can bring about back discomfort.
So, you have to be mindful of your posture at all times, especially as you pass the halfway point of your workouts.
Elliptical vs. Stationary Bike – Who Wins?
From a general fitness standpoint, both pieces of equipment have merit, and both offer some unique advantages.
If you’re looking for an affordable and compact piece of cardio equipment for home use, then the stationary bike will probably work best. Alternatively, if you enjoy the elliptical, your budget is slightly larger, and you have a bit more space at home, you can invest in an elliptical.
Both options work well, and both offer only a limited number of disadvantages.