Exercise bikes and treadmills are two of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment around, both at the gym and home. They are both effective cardio workouts and provide an opportunity for you to progress with your training by increasing resistance.
Both cycling and running are forms of aerobic exercise, aerobic exercise releases endorphins that help you to feel good and even reduce pain. Aerobic exercise is beneficial to the whole body and helps you burn calories, which can help you lose fat so long as you are eating at a calorie deficit. But which is better for burning calories?
Table of Contents
Treadmill vs. Exercise Bike (Pros & Cons)
So how do you decide which equipment is best for you? Let's look at the pros and cons of both stationary bikes and treadmills.
Exercise bikes are stationary bikes that allow you to control your speed and resistance to tailor a perfect workout. You are sat down, which takes the pressure off your joints even as you exercise.
What We Like
What We Didn’t Like
A treadmill allows you to walk or run without having to tackle the outdoor elements. It can be a low-impact exercise or high-impact, depending on the speed and incline.
What We Like
What We Didn’t Like
Treadmill vs. Exercise Bike
For Burning Calories
You burn more calories on a treadmill than the same intensity workout on an exercise bike. This is because, on an exercise bike, your weight is supported by the seat, whereas a treadmill is a weight-bearing exercise. When you run, you carry your whole weight and propel it forward.
On the other hand, your lower body is supported on an exercise bike, and you have less upper body movement.
The number of calories you can burn on a treadmill varies on the speed and incline of the machine, as well as your body weight. For example, a 155-pound person running 12 minutes per mile can burn 298 calories in 30 minutes (or 596 per hour!), while a 185-pound person can burn 355.
On the other hand, a 155-pound person on an exercise bike burns approximately 246 calories through 30 minutes of biking at moderate intensity (or 492 per hour).
For Weight Loss and Toning Legs
Treadmills burn more calories than an exercise bike, and you are able to work out your core and back harder. However, both exercise bikes and treadmills provide excellent aerobic exercise and are, therefore, effective at helping you to shift those extra pounds.
We, therefore, recommend that you choose the piece of equipment that you most enjoy. If you enjoy the exercise, you are more likely to keep doing it and lose weight more effectively. If you are solely out to get more definition, you will have an easier job toning your legs using an exercise bike.
According to the CDC, those who lose weight more gradually and adopt a healthy lifestyle are more likely to keep it off. Therefore voicing a piece of equipment that you are likely to keep coming back to is key.
Both exercise bikes and treadmills are determined by how much effort you put in. Therefore, as your fitness improves, you can work at more resistance or move faster, and you will continue to improve. The best feeling is when you start to notice that you can run or cycle longer than before!
For Belly Fat
Belly fat can feel impossible to shift. The only way to do it is to eat at a calorie deficit. However, the most effective form of exercise for belly fat is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which can be done on either exercise bikes or treadmills. Some models come with HIIT programs built in to guide you through training.
However, if you have a simpler model, you can perform HIIT training by starting with a gentle warm-up, 5 minutes of low-impact cycling, or walking. Then run or cycle at full effort for one minute, followed by two minutes at a steady pace, repeat 5 times. Walk for one minute to recover, then run or cycle at full effort for 30 seconds, followed by a minute rest and repeat 5 times.
Which Machine Provides a Full Body Workout?
A treadmill provides a full-body workout. Running works your legs, including your quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings, while also developing abdominal and back muscles.
Your core and back are engaged because you use them to stabilize you as you run—treadmills even workout your arms as you move them back and forth when you run. If you want a more thorough arm workout, you can also hold light dumbbells while you jog.
On the other hand, an exercise bike primarily strengthens your legs, including your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. However, it does have some impact on your core, back, and glutes as well. If you use handlebars, you can also target your upper body muscles, including your triceps, biceps, and shoulders.
Both machines have the potential to give you a full-body workout. However, because a treadmill is weight-bearing, you will work out your core and back more fully.
Which Exercise Equipment is Best for People With Bad Knees?
Running, whether outdoors or on a treadmill, creates a jarring motion on your knees. Although running on a treadmill is slightly easier on your joints than running outside because of the smooth, soft, and flat surface.
In comparison, exercise bikes, which are also great for fat loss, are a low-impact exercise and do not strain your joints. If you have bad knees, then a bike may allow you to work out longer without experiencing pain. In the end, this will be far more beneficial to your fitness and health.
Bikes are also great if you suffer from lower back pain, as the movement of cycling does not jolt or put pressure on your lower back muscles or joints. You don't have to hunch over to cycle with a stationary bike, unlike an outdoor bike. Instead, you can raise the handlebars or choose a recumbent bike that puts you in a comfortable workout position.
A recumbent exercise bike sits you in a fully supported and reclined position with the pedals in front of you. They are great for people with injuries who nevertheless want to improve their fitness and health.
How Do these Compare to Other Cardio Machines?
Many exercise machines can provide a cardio workout. Most do not require weight-bearing in the same way as a treadmill. For example, elliptical machines are easy to use and simulate the movement of running without butting as much strain on your joints.
You may therefore be able to work out harder and longer. Although elliptical machines are less dynamic and you may become bored quicker than when using treadmills or bikes.
Rowing machines are also a great form of non-weight-bearing exercise. Similar to exercise bikes, you are sat down, which provides low-impact cardio. Rowing machines provide a thorough workout for muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and chest.
However, they are quite large and can be noisy. Furthermore, they require proper technique. If you have poor posture, you could injure yourself.
If you are looking for maximum impact, then stair steppers are also a great choice. The uphill aspect makes it more challenging than a treadmill. Stair climbers target your quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes muscles for an all-in-one lower body workout. However, they can be monotonous.
The final machine that you might want to consider is a cross-trainer. Cross trainers are great because they boost your stamina and cardio ability while also training your arms. You can ease the strain on your legs by using your arms more, making the cross trainer the perfect rehabilitation cardio.
Having a varied workout routine is one way to keep yourself interested and motivated. If you only have space for one type of exercise equipment, then pick something with multiple settings. Or preferably one with built-in programs to keep your workouts interesting and effective.
Which Exercise Machine Should You Choose?
Although you can burn more calories on a treadmill, both forms of exercise are effective. Therefore, when choosing a machine that is best suited for you, you should consider what you enjoy most, as you are more likely to show up to workouts that you enjoy, and as a result, you are likely to burn more calories.
Furthermore, an excuse bike puts less pressure on your joints. Therefore, you may be able to work out longer and more frequently. If you workout longer on an exercise bike than on a treadmill, then you will burn more calories cycling.
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that you are making an active decision to increase the cardio you do. While different machines have different benefits, all of them are effective as tools for weight loss and better health, so well done on making that decision!
If you want to delve deeper into the different benefits for both the exercise bike and the treadmill, you should check out the exercise bike vs. treadmill Reddit.