Many people who go to the gym often face a common question: elliptical vs. bike vs. treadmill. Which one should I use?
First of all, it’s important to know what your goals are: lose weight? Body toning? Cardio-only purposes? All of the above?
Whatever your case may be, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We know how important it is to choose the right training equipment, so let’s start.
We will analyze the calories, advantages, and benefits that all three, the elliptical, spinning bicycles, and treadmill, bring to your body. Burning fat in a short time is possible thanks to these three efficient gym machines.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for losing weight with each one of them.
Elliptical vs bike vs treadmill: Weight loss and calorie burning
We’ll start with what is supposed to be the greatest virtues of these three machines. The weight loss capabilities of all three, the elliptical, treadmill, or exercise bikes, are virtually unquestionable.
You’ll hardly find another sport more effective for losing weight in a short time.
In terms of calorie burning, the value will vary greatly depending on the training’s duration and intensity. In a good spinning class, you can burn at least 500-600 kcal, being able to reach 700-800, while in an hour of elliptical, you can get to burn around 1000 calories.
If you get on the treadmill, the caloric expenditure may also exceed 700-800 calories in 60 minutes. However, I advise you not to become obsessed with this data.
These are just generic parameters provided by all gym machines. To know your numbers more accurately, you should introduce your whole profile (height, weight, pulse, etc…).
For instance, if you want to know the calories burned with each sport, you can take a look at the calorie table chart below. Per sport for 1 hour of activity and a person of 162 lbs:
People often think that the more calories they burn, the faster they’ll cure belly fat and tone the arms, legs, and abs—big mistake.
This will be the case as long as the caloric expenditure is increased above the intakes, favoring, of course, weight loss.
The truth is that only with this type of aerobic exercise people tend to respond very well, training the “fat-burning” areas and losing weight with a certain ease, without the need of changing eating habits.
Many others, unfortunately, don’t have the same experience. The main causes are known: increased appetite and utilizing exercise as an excuse to eat more.
This is one reason why many people, over time, become depressed when they include long cardio sessions in their training routine without seeing any substantial results.
Doing cardio is important, but doing meaningless cardio will often not be enough to lose abdominal fat and tone your legs or buttocks.
Strength training and high-intensity exercises for greater muscle activation and fat mobilization must be introduced to make it even more effective.
Crunches and other complementary activities for toning
Working on high-intensity areas can be even more effective than a long spinning or elliptical session as it allows for post-exercise metabolic activation that facilitates caloric intake. Crunches and planks make the best examples.
Elliptical vs bike
If you’re looking to make your physical activity as complete as possible, you should consider the muscle groups you work with.
In the case of an elliptical and stationary bike, although caloric consumption is important, the muscles involved during the activity are quite limited.
The lower trunk joints and muscles are the main motors for this activity, although a well-directed spinning class will force you to stand up and vary the position precisely to work in other areas of the body.
Now, if you look at the treadmill, this activity may be a little more complete since the leg muscles must work together with the arms.
Because without realizing it, you use them for balance to get propelled in your stride whenever you walk or run.
This translates into a lighter workload that, unlike the bike, forces you to activate other muscle groups in the body. Furthermore, playing with the treadmill’s intensity and incline will allow you to perform more complete and fun sessions.
If there’s a gym machine that stands out for being the most “complete,” that would be elliptical. A miracle recipe that many people turn to on their way to a better physical appearance.
The elliptical trainer is very effective because of its ability to work at high intensities and guarantee a high-calorie burn. Likewise, it’s one of the few sports that targets practically the entire body.
With the elliptical trainer, you’ll be working for all muscle groups without realizing it, making it an ideal machine for toning the entire body.
Just wanna have fun?
As far as entertainment is concerned, you should be aware that no machine will equal the pleasure of lying on the couch watching TV. Once you have assumed this, you may find that going to the gym is a little more bearable.
Mentality and attitude are important in this department, although minutes and hours may pass more quickly on one machine than another.
The static or spinning bicycle is usually a bit “boring.” However, if performed through a guided class, you can take advantage of it by watching a series or a TV program on-demand with your cell phone or tablet.
If you attend a guided spinning class, the time passes much faster because the music and the instructor’s presence make the activity much more dynamic. Spinning is surely by far the most fun activity of the three.
With the treadmill, however, things get a bit more complicated. Since the vibrations, impact, and risk of falling due to the lack of focus will force you to concentrate more on the activity.
I recommend that you look around and keep your eyes away from the stopwatch. Because if you do, minutes will feel like hours.
The elliptical trainer is a mix of both disciplines, it requires coordination and concentration, but you can avoid music or any distraction.
To stay entertained, you can use the default programs that are built into most machines. Varying the intensity and exceeding small targets will make the minutes go by a little faster.
Elliptical vs bike vs treadmill: Price and space
Some people choose to exercise at home to save on gym fees, lack of time, or simply for convenience and decide to buy a home elliptical trainer or treadmill.
However, if you’re among this group, you may be more concerned about these machines’ price points and the space they take up.
Fortunately, manufacturers are aware that not everyone has a palace to house an indoor gym, nor do their customers have an unlimited budget. For this reason, the prices of fitness machines are becoming more and more adjusted, and the equipment is becoming smaller.
You can currently get elliptical bikes for 200 USD or less and an excellent model for around 300.
As far as exercise bikes, the price point of a basic model is somewhat lower, and you may be able to find one for around 150 USD, although a decent exercise bike will be much more expensive.
As for treadmills, the price is much higher. Forget about finding a good treadmill for less than 800 USD. The lowest-priced ones you can find will be tiny and mostly geared towards speed walking.
A common mistake during the purchase process is to confuse a treadmill with an elliptic machine.
Keep in mind that, in regards to space, there are currently folding exercise bikes that can be stored quickly and comfortably in any room. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are somewhat more robust in terms of dimensions, although virtually all treadmills can be folded up and run along the ramp side.
*Pricing source: Amazon
Risk of Injuries
The risks with any of these machines seem to be shared, but if you’re physically more fragile, it’ll be more convenient to perform a seated exercise as in the static bicycle.
This is because it will lessen the weight in the legs and back.
This exercise is mechanical and static, so it’s easy for you to watch TV while doing it. It’s important to have a good time without having to look at the wall.
A stationary bike allows for a progressive warm-up and slowly increase the intensity. On the other hand, the elliptical one is more complete in working between the inferior and superior train.
Nevertheless, if you haven’t been exercising for a long time, perhaps it’s much better to stick with a stationary bike to start and get into shape.
Elliptical vs bike and treadmill: Quick Summary
This machine provides additional intensity variations (speed and incline). It involves a greater number of muscle groups, so it generates a greater impact on the joints, like ankles and knees, during more intense activities such as running.
However, exercise performed correctly with a professional’s guidance can even strengthen the buttocks, thighs, calves, and abdomen.
It’s similar to running on a treadmill, but without stressing the joints too much.
This equipment is optimal for working your buttocks and thighs, with the disadvantage that on the elliptical trainer, compared to the treadmill, the variations in stimuli and intensity are less; since it’s only possible to alter the speed and load of the execution.
This device can be a good option for overweight people who want to burn fat and perform aerobic exercises without overloading the joints.
Generally, aerobic work performed with this equipment is more suitable for those who are just starting to exercise or people with impact restrictions in lower limbs.
It is also a good option as a variant for those who run since it strengthens the thighs.
Therefore, when training on a bicycle, it’s important to observe the parameters for adjusting the seat’s height. Although the impact on the knees is less than on the treadmill, remaining seated can generate greater stress on the backbones, so keep an eye on that as well.
If you want to choose the best option for an aerobic exercise, you must consider all the characteristics and benefits of each one.
As you have seen in this article (and perhaps experienced it on your own), there is no such thing as a miracle machine. Both the elliptical, the treadmill, and the exercise bike have their advantages and disadvantages.
Each physical activity has its own particularities and nuances. However, what they all have in common are the benefits they bring to your body and overall health.
Any sport can be beneficial for you, and anything that is complemented with a balanced diet will be an excellent investment for the future.
Despite everything, it is evident and cannot be ignored that spinning is especially beneficial for working on the legs and buttocks; the elliptical trainer is a complete activity. The treadmill is right in the middle.
Alternating these 3 modalities together with a little weight lifting and stretching would be ideal to start noticing physical changes faster.
The ultimate machine for weight loss does not yet exist either. So, for now, varying the intensity and duration of the activity will help you lose weight progressively and healthily.
In any case, don’t get too obsessed with your weight and don’t forget that the reason you are doing sports is that you like it and you want to improve your overall health while having fun.
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