November 29, 2021

Workout with Elliptical vs. Stationary BikeWhich Is Better?

Which Is Better?

Workout-You’ve been there. If you don’t have enough space for multiple machines in your home gym, you will have to make the difficult decision of what equipment you want to spend your money on.

Gym -Fitness- Equipment- Sport- Interior

While both stationary bikes and ellipticals can provide a cardio workout that is more effective than running outside, they are less impactful on the joints and offer greater cardiovascular benefits. However, the way each machine moves your body and the results you get are very different. This is partly due to the fact that both machines can be used in a standing or sitting position.

However, the muscles they target are also different. Is one “better than the other?” Three fitness experts were consulted to discuss the differences between stationary and elliptical bikes.


  • Cory Becker works as a personal trainer at WeStrive.
  • Brooke Van Paris has been certified as a personal trainer by Life Time.
  • Mindy Sartori, an XPRO (instructor), at CycleBar GO.

Elliptical Machine for Workout


An elliptical is a stationary exercise machine that simulates running, walking, and stair climbing, used for lower and upper body.

Cory Becker is a personal trainer through WeStrive. This platform has hundreds of coaches and trainers. It will feel as if your legs and arms are moving in perfect sync. You can also adjust the difficulty to increase your muscle burn and calories.

What Are the Benefits of an Elliptical Machine?

Brooke Van Paris, certified personal trainer at Life Time, said that elliptical machines are great for cardiovascular exercise and non-impact since your feet do not leave the pedals.

They are a popular cardio option with a combination between a stair stepper and a ski machine. They train your legs in a cyclical up-and-down action, as well as your arms, thanks to the movable grips, hence targeting different muscle groups. To match your fitness level, you may modify the resistance and incline.

Becker says that everything on an elliptical machine has wheels and other mechanical connections so you can’t move one leg or arm out of rhythm. He says that this allows beginners to learn their rhythm and pace. This movement basically involves rolling back and forth. It is great for people with joint problems who still want to exercise.

Mindy Sartori, XPRO instructor at CycleBar GO says that elliptical machines are less stressful on the joints and can help you keep fit after an injury. Elliptical machine has the following benefits:

Burn Calories:

Using an elliptical machine to burn calories is a terrific way to do so. A 155-pound person will burn 335 calories in 30 minutes, according to Harvard Health Publishng.

Full-Body Workout:

The movable poles or handles strengthen your arms and shoulders while also working your lower body (hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes). According to the Mayo Clinic, you can also cycle your legs backwards instead of forwards, which will put more strain on your hamstrings and calves. The elliptical also works your core muscles.


According to the Mayo Clinic, this machine puts less stress on your joints than running, making it perfect for those with knee or hip ailments or arthritis. Long-distance runners will benefit from this type of low-impact workout since it may help them avoid stress fractures.

The circular motion of the legs, on the other hand, may be difficult to accomplish if you have balance concerns.

Stationary Bike for Workout


A stationary bike, as you can probably guess from its name is a bike that doesn’t move. This indoor version of a bike can be used all year. Becker says there are two types of seats: one that looks like a racing or normal bike and another that has pedals in the front. This is almost like Big Wheels for adults. Both can be adjusted and will allow you to get some miles in your own home or at the gym.

What Are the Benefits of a Stationary Bike workout?

A stationary bike, similar to an elliptical, can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your legs and be gentle on your joints. You can increase or decrease intensity by changing your speed and/or resistance. Stationary bikes can be used for high intensity interval training (HIIT), or other short bursts. It has the following benefits:

Burns Calories:

The number of calories you burn while cycling varies based on your speed. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person can burn 260 calories by biking at a moderate tempo for 30 minutes. You’ll burn 391 calories in half an hour if you increase the speed to vigorous.

Low-Intensity Lower-Body Workout:

According to the Mayo Clinic, a stationary bike is a terrific method to strengthen your legs and core without putting stress on your joints. Cycling is good for those with osteoarthritis in general.

Versatile Workout:

If you prefer group exercise, you can bike at home, go to the gym, or attend spinning courses. The bike seat can be unpleasant, but replacing it with a padded model usually solves the problem.

Ellipticals vs. Stationary Bikes

While both are great cardio exercise machines, the main difference between stationary bikes and ellipticals is the fact that the former is a total body workout targeting various muscles. Elliptical works your entire body. This gives you greater control over your movements and allows for a warm up.

The downside to ellipticals is their inability to be intense for the same reasons. They are therefore not effective for people who have been training for a while and are able to handle the stress of other cardio forms.

Injured or restricted people are at a benefit for ellipticals since Sartori suggests that it is an excellent option for them. It can increase your heart rate without putting too many strains on your joints.


Van Paris says that elliptical users are also standing up, which makes the heart work harder to pump blood from head-to-toe. The heart works less when you are lying down or seated (also known as the “recovery”) position. Standing can also increase bone density by putting more weight or load on your bones.

Another feature of ellipticals are their ability to allow users to reverse their stride. Van Paris says, “This is important because the human body rarely moves in one plane of motion in daily life. It’s therefore important to change the direction to better simulate real life.

Stationary Bikes

Van Paris suggests that stationary bikes are a great choice for beginners. They also offer a low-impact workout.

Stationary bikes can be used by anyone, not just those with limited mobility or who are recovering from injury. You can adjust your resistance and speed to increase your workout.

If you’re looking to improve your overall body fitness, you can also add weights or get out of the saddle.

Stationary bikes are great for working out your lower body. They focus on your quads and calves. You can use them for cardio or interval training. Becker says that stationary biking can provide strength-building benefits similar to outdoor sprints.

If you have any concerns or injuries, consult a physician before using either machine. Both machines are lightweight and come in a range of models and styles, making them adaptable and suitable for almost everyone.

Proper form is essential for both to prevent injury and exercise effectively. Van Paris advises against going too fast on an elliptical. This can lead to losing control, slouching and not having optimal posture and core control.

Also, you should avoid binding on your toes (e.g. leaving the pedals), which can result in damage to your joints. You must ensure that your stationary bike fits you properly. If you are unsure, consult a professional or trainer. Proper posture is essential for good core control and to avoid leaning on the handles. Sartori suggests watching a YouTube video about bike setup and proper form before you ride a stationary bicycle for the first time. You could injure your self if it isn’t.

Calories Burned

Both the cardio machines, exercise bikes and the elliptical machine allow you to burn calories quickly – a single workout can burn hundreds of calories, which can help you achieve a calorie deficit lose weight.


According to the website HealthStatus, a 200-pound person will burn 477 calories on the exercise bike and 774 calories on the elliptical trainer during a 45-minute moderate activity. According to the website, a 45-minute strenuous workout on the exercise cycle burns 774 calories, which is the same as the elliptical trainer. The elliptical trainer burns more calories since it uses your arms, which are mostly motionless during an exercise bike workout.

However, as the data above show, it is mostly the intensity that makes a difference. You’ll burn a lot more calories on an exercise bike than you will on an elliptical trainer if you do a high-intensity workout. Furthermore, you can always stand up and ride out of the saddle (this position is known as “danseuse”), which will allow you to burn more calories than an elliptical trainer! What matters most if you want to burn calories is that you work out with enough resistance (you will burn much less calories if the resistance of your bike is too low). You’ll be able to muscle your thighs and buttocks as well!

In terms of calories burned, the elliptical bike triumphs over the stationary cycle. However, the difference is not significant, and you can lose weight using either fitness equipment if you exercise regularly and intensively. If you want to burn calories, you must exercise yourself! (For more information, see How to Lose Weight on a Stationary Bike.)

The Final Takeaway For Your Perfect Workout

The stationary bike and elliptical machines both provide low impact great cardio workout. This makes them suitable for beginners as well as people recovering from injuries or those with joint problems. If you don’t fall into one of these categories but still want to do a hard cardio workout, either machine can be adjusted to increase resistance or speed at any time.

The elliptical is a good choice if you want to do a full-body workout. Your arms are also involved. The machine guides or assists you in moving your upper body. For high-intensity interval training, sprints or to really get your heart pumping, the stationary bike might be more suitable.

The best machine for you will depend on your personal preferences and fitness goals, your effort level, your body weight, and which machine you are most comfortable using (and thus more likely to use regularly). Van Paris says that repetitive motion can cause muscular imbalances and overuse injuries, regardless of the machine you use.

Interior of modern spacious fitness club with various sports machines and equipment placed on parquet floor near panoramic windows

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bike vs elliptical discussion, you can use them both in your workout routine. Becker states that the elliptical is a great tool for warming up before a workout. It moves your whole body while stationary bikes only allow you to increase the intensity.

However, they do not allow you to move side-by-side, so you can target only a few leg groups. Becker says that combining different machines to achieve the same cardio effect, but in different ways and with different muscles, will help you improve your fitness.