Elliptical Vs. Spin Bikes: Compared For Weight Loss & Cardio

If you are sitting on the fence, unsure whether a spin bike or an elliptical is the best option for you, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we are going to be exploring the benefits and the negatives of both machines.

Both the spin bike and the elliptical are very common in commercial gyms. The spin bike, in particular, will probably have its own room dedicated to it. Rows of ellipticals will usually be found in the cardio section.

Let us start by saying this. Both machines are excellent choices and are ultimately going to help make you fitter, stronger and will be awesome tools for crafting a better you.

The most important thing is that you are deciding to improve your health. So well done, we salute you!

  • Perfect for beginners and people who are out of shape and overweight
  • A full-body workout hits more muscle groups
  • The low-impact workout is better for injuries or sensitive joints
  • Programmable settings can help you reach your goals
  • Easy to use for more extended periods
  • Easy on the joints

Benefits of Exercise Bikes

  • Great for beginners with a wide range of different programs and workout plans
  • Can be used for cardio and interval training
  • Heavily targets the legs and thighs, making it the perfect cardio for those who want their squats and deadlifts to improve
  • Can burn between 400-800 calories an hour, depending on your effort levels
  • Burns more calories
spin bike

Comparing Ellipticals Vs. Spin Bikes: Head to Head

For Calories Burned

One of the most important factors to any cardio machine is how effectively they burn calories. The more calories you burn, the better.

In terms of raw calorie burn, the spin bike is the superior of the two machines. The spin bike does, however, require a much higher level of energy to achieve these goals.

Spin bikes are especially effective at burning calories when you pair one with a spin class. Most commercial gyms offer free spin classes where you get the added benefit of being motivated by a group setting and a trainer who will push you to work harder.

If you are working out in a home gym, you can get a television and put a spin class on to get the same effect.

The elliptical, on the other hand, burns fewer calories. It is much easier to use, however, and is an easier machine for beginners and for those that prefer to zone out and do long periods of steady-state cardio.

Winner: The spin bike is the superior machine for calorie burn as long as you are willing to put the effort in.

For Weight Loss

Weight loss is more complicated than simply burning the most calories. You will need to dial in your diet and implement a strict routine in order to lose weight effectively.

Spin bikes will utilize your leg muscles in an extremely targeted way. This means that not only will you be burning calories, but you will be building the muscles in your legs. If your goal is to lose weight around your lower body, this makes the spin bike the better choice.

The elliptical uses both your arms and your legs and will allow you to tone both your upper and lower body.

Ultimately, the best machine for weight loss is the one that you are willing to use consistently.

Winner: Pick the machine you are willing to use regularly during your workout routines.

For Cardio Training

Both the spin bike and the elliptical are great for training your cardiovascular system. If your main goal is to simply get fitter, both these machines will work wonders. They get your heart pumping and your sweat pouring.

Ellipticals are great for long training sessions. A grueling hour on the elliptical is going to give you a serious cardio workout. This will require you to pay attention to your heart rate and ensure that you are putting the effort is necessary and not just coasting along.

Spin bikes are better for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). This kind of training forces you to raise your heart rate at a quick sharp rate with short periods of rest. A 20 minute HIIT session is equal to an hour doing steady-state cardio.

If you are pairing your cardio with strength training and weightlifting, you will be better off going with the spin bike as it will allow you to improve your cardiovascular ability with less time commitment.

Winner: Spin Bike

For Strength and Endurance

If your goals are more orientated towards building strength, then you should use a spin bike as your cardio.

The low-impact style of workout that you complete on an elliptical means that you won't be doing much in terms of muscle growth.

The spin bike, on the other hand, is going to give your calves, glutes, and hamstrings a workout that is both great for cardio and for building leg strength. This is due to the ability to increase the resistance of your bike to make it more of a strength workout.

Winner: Spin Bike

For Toning Legs, Bums, and Stomach

If you are in the gym to get rid of that unwanted leg fat or tone up your bum, you should use a machine that will target those specific areas so that the muscles grow while you strip the fat.

This will help give you a much better physique compared to simply losing fat without strength training. The spin bike rules supreme here once again as few machines can match the intensity they train your lower body.

Winner: Spin Bike

For Building Abs

One of the biggest goals for a vast majority of gym users is to eventually achieve a set of rock-hard 6 pack abs; you know the kind, the kind that makes everyone else jealous of you at the beach.

Most people already have a strong level of core, and this means that their abs are already there; they are just hidden under a layer of belly fat.

Unfortunately, there is no way to target this belly fat specifically. The only way to lose weight here is to strip body fat from all over our bodies. Eventually, this will lead to your abs becoming visible.

To achieve abs, you are simply going to have to do a lot of cardio and eat healthily, so the best machine to use will be the one that you can see yourself using multiple times a week for the foreseeable future.

Winner: Pick your favorite machine.

For Practicality for a Home Gym

If you are looking at machines because you want to install one into your home gym, then you will want to consider the practicality of both.

Luckily, both machines take up a similar amount of space, with spin bikes taking up slightly less. Spin bikes can often be folded away to making storing them a bit easier.

Winner: Spin Bike

Cost Guide

If you are reading this article because you are looking to buy one of these machines, then cost will be a massive factor in your choice.

Cardio equipment can be pricey, and you can spend a lot of money purchasing one.

Although you can find spin bikes relatively cheap, they are often low quality and should be avoided. A high-quality spin bike will help prevent injuries and will allow you to progress much quicker. A good spin bike is pricey, however.

You will be able to get a high-quality elliptical for less than a high-quality spin bike, especially if you look out for 2nd hand machines being sold by commercial gyms.

In terms of the second-hand market, both machines are pretty similar in their price range and resale value, so they are both safe purchases as you will usually be able to sell them for a price similar to what you paid as long as you look after them.

Winner: Elliptical

Training with Joint Pain, Injuries, and Back Pain

If you suffer from joint or back pain or you have injuries that you are still recovering from, then you should avoid the spin bike.

Spin bikes are tough on your back and your joints and are much more aggravating than elliptical machines.

The exception to this is if you suffer from pain in your arms and shoulders, the elliptical requires a lot more upper body activation and will require you to use your arms and shoulders more than a spin bike.

Ellipticals, in general, are the perfect machine for those looking to get back into training after an injury. Working out on an elliptical is a much lower impact than the spin bike and will allow you to work at a pace that doesn't cause you pain or further injuries.

Winner: Elliptical

Spin Bikes and Ellipticals Vs. Other Cardio Equipment

Spin bikes and ellipticals are only two of the many choices you have to choose from when it comes to cardio machines. Here are some of the other commonly found machines and some of their benefits.


In terms of pure calorie burn, the treadmill is the only machine that can really compete with the spin bike. If you have the cardio level and the energy, you can shred calories using a good treadmill workout program.

There are some major downsides to the treadmill, however. They put a considerable level of strain on your ankles, knees, and hips. This means that it may not be the best choice if you have pre-existing injuries or weak joints.

For those that prefer to stand and run instead of sitting and cycling, the treadmill is king. There is a reason you will always find rows upon rows of them at the gym, after all.

Rowing Machine

If you are into weightlifting and strength training and are looking to incorporate some cardio during a bulk or help cut, the rowing machine is a perfect choice.

This cardio machine is the perfect hybrid between high-resistance strength training and cardio HIIT.

With the rowing machine, you can build huge levels of upper body and lower body strength while blitzing through calories in a short time.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Which is better for losing belly fat, a spin bike or an elliptical?

The only way to lose belly fat is to drop body fat from your entire body. The best way to do this is to make sure you consume fewer calories than you burn during the day. This means the machine you are willing to put the most energy into will be the best for burning body fat.

Which machine is easier to maintain?

The elliptical has fewer complicated parts and will be easier to maintain between the two.

How does running compare to spinning and elliptical use?

With both a spin bike and an elliptical, you are in a position where your body weight is supported. When you are running, you have to carry your own bodyweight yourself. This is why running can be so bad for your joints and can aggravate injuries.


Now you have all of the information, it should be much easier to make the best decision for you specifically. Both machines are fantastic pieces of equipment; there is a reason they are both found in every commercial gym, after all.

Whichever you choose, good luck!

Last Updated on January 30, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.