One of the most important pieces of equipment you will need if you want a body to be proud of is a good cardio machine. There is a reason there is row after row of them in your local commercial gym.
In this article, we will be looking at two of those cardio machines, the air bike and the elliptical machine. Both machines are excellent choices, but both have different negatives and positives.
We will pit the air bike vs. the elliptical to see which is best for a range of different factors.
Table of Contents
Benefits & Drawbacks of Air Bikes
Benefits & Drawbacks of Ellipticals
What Muscles Do These Cardio Machines Use
Exercise bikes utilize your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, as well as the rest of your lower body. They also require the spinal erectors and stabilizers in your back to engage as well as your core and abs.
Ellipticals utilize almost every muscle in your body due to the motion required. This means you will be getting a lower and upper body workout at the same time as strengthening your core and your back.
Comparing Air Bikes Vs Ellipticals: Head to Head
for Calories Burned
Most of us get onto cardio machines in order to lose weight, and this means burning calories. In terms of the raw amount of calories burnt, the air bike is the winner due to the high amount of energy required for the HIIT style of training it utilizes.
Obviously, pure calorie burn isn't everything, but for those that like a numbers-style approach, stick to the air bike.
Winner: Air Bike
for Weight Loss
It's pretty simple to calculate how many calories an hour a machine should allow you to burn on paper, but the reality is pretty different.
You are only going to burn the calories if you put the required amount of effort in. This means that if you absolutely hate using the air bike but love the elliptical, you will be better off using the elliptical, even if it is less effective overall.
Losing weight isn't as complicated as people think. There is one cardinal rule. You need to consume fewer calories during the day than your body uses. This means that finding the machine that you don't mind spending the time on and pairing it with a good diet will be the best way to lose weight effectively.
Winner: Pick the machine you prefer to use here.
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for Cardio Training
If you are in the gym to improve your cardiovascular ability and get fitter, and are less concerned about your weight, you should use the air bike.
Studies have proven that HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions are more effective in improving our bodies' cardiovascular ability than steady-state cardio.
Again though, the most important thing is actually utilizing the machine, so if you really dislike the air bike, you will still be better using the elliptical.
for Strength and Endurance
Both the elliptical and the air bike are cardio machines by nature. This means that they will not be practical tools for strength building alone.
If you are looking to pair a machine with your strength training routine, you will need to consider other aspects of your training.
If you are currently bulking and trying to put on muscle mass, then you will want to utilize the elliptical. This will allow you to train your cardio ability without burning too many calories when trying to eat a calorie surplus.
If you are cutting, doing HIIT sessions on the air bike will be a great way to accelerate your fat loss.
Winner: Ellpictical for bulking, Airbike for cutting.
for Toning Legs, Bums, Stomach
Many of us are unhappy with that winter layer of fat we have accumulated on our legs, bellies, and bums.
If your goal is to fix this, then you should stick to using the machine that is going to activate your lower body the most.
The air bike is perfect for this. The higher resistance allows you to both strip fat away through calorie burn but also to build and tone the glutes, calves, and hamstrings, leading to a much more toned look.
Winner: Air Bike
for Building Abs & Cutting Belly Fat
If you have always dreamed of gaining those rock-hard abs that you see celebrities rocking in your favorite movies, you are going to have to work particularly hard.
Belly fat cannot be targeted with a specific exercise. The only way to reduce it is to eat healthily and drop body fat all over.
Everybody has abs, and they only become visible at a certain body fat percentage. This means that the best machine for this will be the air bike, simply because it will allow you to cut fat quicker.
Remember, abs are made in the kitchen, and while cardio is an excellent tool for accelerating fat loss, if you can't control your diet, your abs will never show. Eat lots of protein and consume fewer calories than you burn, and they will appear in good time.
Practicality for a Home Gym
If you have found your way to this article because you are doing research for your home gym, then you will want to know which machine is the most practical.
Air bikes are simple in their design and don't require power or much maintenance. They don't utilize a lot of complicated parts and are pretty durable. They also often fold up and take up less floor space.
Ellipticals require a larger amount of floor space and will need to be plugged in to get the full benefits. They do not fold down as easily, and this can make storage difficult if you don't intend to keep your machine out permanently.
Winner: Air Bike
If your goal is to purchase a piece of cardio equipment for your home gym, then the cost will be a massively influential factor.
Both ellipticals and air bikes can be costly. You pay for the quality, and we always advise you to stretch to the highest quality you can afford.
Air bikes have less complicated parts and movements, and this makes them cheaper to buy outright.
Ellipticals are generally pretty expensive if you buy one brand new, especially if it is any good.
Second hand, you will find air bikes for a low price, and you could pick up a high-quality 2nd hand elliptical for the same price as a brand new air bike.
Training with Joint Pain, Injuries, and Back Pain
After an injury, it can be hard to get back into shape and into the gym. Finding a machine that will allow you to recover or progress is important.
Air bikes can be tough on your back, but they do allow you to sit down, which can help take some of the pressure off the back.
Ellipticals require most of your body to work together, and this can make them aggravating for those with bad joints or who are recovering from injuries.
You will need to evaluate your own injuries and pick the machine that will place the least amount of stress on the parts of your body that you have problems with.
Building Bone Density
Our bones slowly get less dense and hardy after we hit the age of 30. This means it's massively important to engage in tasks that have been proven to improve our bone density.
The easiest way to do this is to engage in high-impact, high-intensity workouts. HIIT workouts are perfect for this, which makes the air bike a great option for those who are trying to keep their bodies strong and healthy as they get older.
Alternative Machines Great for Weight Loss
In terms of the ability to burn calories, the treadmill is perhaps the most effective machine on the planet. By utilizing your body weight and gravity, not only are you working out, you are carrying your whole body during the workout.
Treadmills come with gradient and speed control allowing you to simulate a number of scenarios and programs. You can do hill climbs or sprint intervals, even a fake marathon.
Running is terrible for your joints and knees, though, so be careful if you choose running as your preferred cardio and make sure you rest properly.
The perfect hybrid between strength and cardio, the rowing machine allows you to build strong sizeable upper and lower body muscles while burning an insane amount of calories.
Many gym-goers love the rowing machine because the workouts are short and intense and can supplement other programs like bodybuilding or strongman training.
Air walkers are like ellipticals without the mechanics. Air walkers are cheap and easy to use if a little basic. If you are looking for cardio at home and on a tight budget, they could be a good way to start getting your cardio ability up while saving for something more effective. They will not usually have any kind of electrical aspects.
They don't have much in the way of resistance control or safety either, so make sure you take care when using one if this is the route you go.
Deciding which cardio machine is going to be best for you is going to rely on you doing some research and considering your own situation. I hope that this article has given you all of the knowledge you could possibly need.
Air bikes are the more hardcore machine, they are more effective, and they are easier to maintain, store, and clean.
Ellipticals are better for beginners and those who are more out of shape or overweight.
Whichever you pick, good luck on your weight loss journey!
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Last Updated on January 13, 2023