Both the elliptical and exercise bike provide you with a solid cardiovascular workout, which is important because according to "Women’s Health," heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Regardless of whether you choose the elliptical or exercise bike, both of these machines scorch calories, improve your cardiovascular fitness and add lean muscle mass. According to personal trainer Jessica M. Bottesch, the best piece of gym equipment is the one you are most likely to use.
The elliptical is a low-impact machine that works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles. If you have a machine with moveable arms, the elliptical provides a full-body workout. Because the elliptical machine allows you to adjust the incline, you can customize and change your workout more than with an exercise bike. At a low incline, you mimic the movement of cross-country skiing, at a medium incline, you engage nearly the same muscles as you would on the exercise bike, and at a high incline, you mimic the movement of a stair-climber.
Exercise Bike Basics
The exercise bike provides a low-impact workout, which makes it a solid choice for beginner exercisers or anyone who has joint, knee or back problems. According to Kim Eskola, assistant fitness director at Little Rock Athletic Club, the exercise bike is easier to use than the elliptical machine. Similar to an elliptical, when pedaling you engage your quadriceps, hamstrings, core, glutes and calf muscles.
Recumbent Exercise Bike
A recumbent bike is a solid alternative to the elliptical machine, according to Eddie Carrington, a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness, because the bike provides a low-impact environment that is gentler on your shins, knees and ankles. To get the same full-body workout on a recumbent bike as an elliptical machine, try using 2- to 3-pound dumbbells and mimic a forward punch movement at shoulder height.
If you are trying to lose weight, then your best option is the elliptical machine. According to Health Status, a 135-pound person burns 697 calories an hour on the elliptical. According to "Women’s Health" magazine, that same person burns 488 calories per hour when riding an exercise bike at 12 to 14 miles per hour. To burn the most calories regardless if you are on the bike or the elliptical, try "Shape" magazine’s Tabata workout where you switch between 20-second hard intervals and 10-second rest intervals. Repeat this eight to 20 times based on your fitness level to torch fat.
- Women’s Health Magazine: Seven Reasons To Start Bike Riding
- WebMD.Com: The Exercise Bike is Back
- Shape Magazine: How to Use an Elliptical Trainer in your Cardio Workout Routines
- Health Status: Calorie Burn Calculator
- Shape Magazine: 10 New Fat-Blasting Tabata Workouts
- Women’s Health Magazine: Gym Workouts: Simple Cardio and Weight-Lifting Plans
- WebMD.Com: At-Home Workouts: 5 Essential Items for a Home Gym
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.