Stationary bike or treadmill: which is the best workout?

Maybe in a perfect world, we would all have enough money and space to outfit a home gym with all the best fitness equipment. There would be a full set of dumbbells, a weight bench, medicine balls, and all kinds of cardio equipment. However, if you’re lucky enough to have the means and floor space to invest in exercise equipment, chances are you still have to decide what to buy. When it comes to cardio workouts, one of the most common decisions is choosing between a treadmill or an exercise bike.

Even people who don’t plan on creating a workout space at home often want to understand how stationary bikes and treadmills compare in terms of the workout they provide. After all, we all want to have the most effective forms of exercise in our workout routines so we can see the fitness gains without feeling like our workouts are taking up all of our free time.

While you can get a great cardio workout on a treadmill or a stationary bike, there are definitely differences and inherent pros and cons to both, and therefore one may be better than the other for your goals. and your fitness needs. Curious to see these two titans of fitness equipment go head-to-head? Keep reading for our detailed comparison of stationary bikes vs. treadmills and navigate your next workout or home gym buying decision with the power of knowledge.

Which is better: a stationary bike or a treadmill?

To compare stationary bikes and treadmills to determine which is the best exercise equipment, we compare the difficulty or intensity of the workout, the versatility of the exercise machines, the muscles worked on a stationary bike per compared to a treadmill, calories burned and fat loss. potential, risk of injury, pleasure and convenience of purchase.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Workout Difficulty

Ultimately, it’s difficult to compare the difficulty or intensity of training on a stationary bike versus a treadmill because it heavily depends on the parameters used. For example, doing a vigorous HIIT workout on a spin bike or indoor bike with the resistance up and the cadence high will be more intense than walking leisurely on a treadmill with no incline. That said, in general, treadmill workouts have the potential to be more difficult than exercise bike workouts, especially if spin bikes or indoor bikes are excluded and only stationary bikes basis are taken into account. Indoor bikes provide a more demanding workout than standard upright stationary bikes because you can stand on the pedals, the flywheel is heavier and requires more power and force to turn, and the riding position requires greater activation of the trunk and upper body.

To increase the difficulty on an exercise bike, the resistance and cadence (pedaling speed) can be increased, whereas, on a treadmill, the pace and incline can be increased. In general, most athletes find that their heart rate increases at a similar level of exertion on a treadmill because running and walking are weight-bearing activities and require nearly every major muscle in the body, while cycling does not put weight on and is mostly just a lower body workout.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Versatility

A man walking on a treadmill.

When considering the versatility of stationary bikes compared to treadmills, treadmills trump exercise bikes in the range and variety of workouts you can do. While you can structure your efforts the same way on either exercise machine (e.g. long and steady endurance training, HIIT or interval training, etc.), the fact whether you can walk or run on a treadmill, and even implement an incline, opens the doors to a wider range of exercises and workouts. This can help prevent boredom and allows you to work different muscles for greater improvement in your fitness.

Stationary bike vs treadmill: muscles worked

Stationary bikes primarily work the quads, hamstrings, and calves, with the glutes to a lesser extent. Spin bikes also strengthen the shoulders, core, and back to some extent. Standing on a spin bike makes it a total body exercise. Walking and running work all the muscles of the lower body, as well as the trunk and arms, provided you do not hold on to the handrails. The increase in incline targets more of the calves, glutes, and hamstrings.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Fit

Most exercise bikes allow seat height adjustments, handlebar height adjustments, and resistance adjustments. Some indoor bikes also allow for additional adjustments like fore/aft seat and handlebar adjustments and more resistance levels. The speed and incline of a treadmill can be changed, although the most basic treadmills often don’t have an incline feature.

Is an exercise bike or a treadmill better for losing weight?

No matter what type of exercise you do, the number of calories you burn depends on your weight and the intensity and duration of your workout. In general, running on a treadmill burns more calories per minute than riding an exercise bike, and riding an exercise bike burns more calories than walking on a treadmill.

Harvard Health Publishing reports that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity stationary biking burns about 210 calories for a 125-pound person, 252 calories for a 155-pound person, and 292 calories for a 185-pound person. A vigorous 30-minute stationary bike workout burns about 315 calories for a 125-pound person, 378 calories for a 155-pound person, and 441 calories for a 185-pound person.

For comparison, running for 30 minutes at 6 mph (10 minute miles) burns about 295 calories for a 125-pound person, 360 calories for a 155-pound person, and 420 calories for a 185-pound person, so jogging at a moderate pace will burn about as many calories as a vigorous stationary bike workout.

Finally, 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour (17 minutes per mile) burns about half the number of calories of riding a stationary bike at a moderate intensity (107 calories for a 125-pound person who walking versus 210 on an exercise bike, 133 calories for a 155-pound person walking versus 252 on an exercise bike, and 159 calories for a 185-pound person versus 292 on an exercise bike).

Which is better for losing belly fat: treadmill or stationary bike?

Exercise bikes and treadmills can both promote weight loss and fat burning. The more calories you burn, the greater the calorie deficit you will create, which will result in greater weight loss. However, research shows that HIIT training is the most effective way to burn belly fat and encourage weight loss because it increases your metabolic rate even after your workout is over.

Building lean body mass is also an effective way to lose body fat because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. Therefore, increase the resistance on an exercise bike or the incline on a treadmill to help build muscle.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Risk of Injury

Stationary bikes are generally safer than treadmills in terms of reducing the risk of injury. Cycling is a low-impact exercise, so it puts less strain on bones, joints, and connective tissues than running or walking on a treadmill. If you suffer from injuries and chronic pain, an exercise bike may be a better choice.

Stationary bike vs. treadmill: fun

Man riding a MYX II Plus bike.

Now you can find both exercise bikes and treadmills with built-in tablets for streaming workouts or immersive entertainment. Some people are naturally more into walking and running while others enjoy cycling, so the question of whether stationary bikes versus treadmills are fun really comes down to personal preference.

Stationary Bike vs Treadmill: Footprint and Buying Considerations

Although prices for stationary bikes and treadmills cover a wide range, stationary bikes and indoor bikes are generally less expensive than treadmills. If you’re on a budget, you’re more likely to find a high-quality exercise bike for your money than a decent treadmill. Inexpensive treadmills often have poor motors, a limited speed range, no incline, and a poorly padded platform. They may also lack onboard training programs and durability. Also, once the engine starts, the treadmill is rendered useless unless you spend a significant amount of money to repair it.

On the other hand, there are many cheap indoor bikes and stationary bikes and they have fewer parts that wear out (no motor, etc.). Exercise bikes also take up less floor space, are easier to move and assemble, and exercise bikes often require no power.

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