Elliptical Vs. Exercise Bike

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Last Updated on February 8, 2022

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Today we're going to compare two of the most popular fitness machines: an elliptical trainer and an exercise bike.

If you're a fitness enthusiast, it's not always easy to choose between the two, and it's not really clear which brings more than the other.

Is an elliptical trainer more effective than an exercise bike? Which machine is best for rehabilitation? Which will let you lose weight fast?

It's a hard call determining the efficacy of each; however, our comprehensive comparison should let you get a better of which fitness equipment can address your fitness needs.



elliptical trainer

There’s a reason why there has been a constant back and forth debate on the stationary bikes vs. elliptical trainers – it’s because both of them are effective fitness equipment.

Both the elliptical, also known as a cross-trainer, and the exercise bike, popularly known as stationary bikes, are cardio exercise machines.

Users of these machines usually reap numerous health benefits including;

  • Improved endurance, which is the ability to sustain a physical effort over extended periods
  • Boost the cardiovascular system, consequently lowering the risk of cardiovascular-related conditions such as stroke, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • The workouts offered by this equipment are safe for joints, and in this respect, there are highly recommended over exercises such as running. According to Healthline, running can result in joint pain, especially on the knees, ankle, or hip, because the feet usually absorb more weight with each stride.

Therefore, it would be safe to say that both elliptical trainers and stationary bikes are appropriate for exercising and staying fit.

Regarding fitness, none of these machines is better than the other; it just that they're different.

The Elliptical machines, for instance, are more demanding than the stationary bike, because they involve the use of the whole body.  

The stationary bikes, on the other hand, usually concentrate on the lower section of the body, and will even allow you to seat during the workouts.

Seniors are usually advised to use a stationary bike to stay fit. Again, those with conditions, for instance, users on joint rehabilitation, are advised to use a stationary bike as it’s not hard on their joints.

For others, it all depends on your fitness goals; weight loss, muscle toning, or HIIT. 

Let’s find out the suitability of each.

stationery bike

Differences Between Cross Trainer and Stationary Bike



Exercise/Stationary Bike

Muscle Strength/ toning

Lower body

Upper body

Joint impact



Fat burning potential

More weight loss

Less weight loss





Not portable

Portable, space-intensive




Muscle Toning

First things first, both of these machines are cardio machines, meaning they'll help in toning the muscles but not doubling the muscle mass.

The elliptical and stationary bikes target different muscle groups.  

An exercise bike, for instance, targets the lower section of the body; while an elliptical helps you gain strength in both the upper as well as the lower body.

What this means is that the stationary bike will allow you to effectively target the thighs, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, and calves.

The elliptical bike, on the other hand, will focus on the glutes, back muscles, arms, chest, and stomach. As for the lower muscles, the elliptical will target buttocks, thigh muscles, and hamstring.

To sum up, if your goal is to tone the muscles on your things and buttocks, both of these pieces of equipment are ideal. However, if you also want to work out your upper body muscles, such as the arms, the elliptical should be a more inspired choice. 

This said, however, though the elliptical trainer will similarly target the lower muscles, stationary bikes are more effective to a larger extent than the elliptical in targeting the quads and hamstrings.

So, there’s no way an elliptical can be a substitute for a stationary bike.

Joint Impact

Both the elliptical and stationary bikes offer a form of low-impact exercise.

According to LiveFit, low-impact exercises are those that require you to leave at least one foot on the ground, meaning there’s less pounding on your joints.

Still, on the low impact exercises, some workouts are more taxing than the others.

The elliptical is generally designed to be easy on the joints. The elliptical offers zero impact since you won't even need to step since your feet re always in the footpads.

The stationary bike, on the other hand, offers a moderate joint impact. Although non-impact, your knees will move from a very bent to straight position multiple times on each workout, meaning it can be taxing to your joints to an extent.

Fat Burning Potential

This is the age-old question that everyone wants to know the answer to which machine will deliver faster weight loss.

Well, this is a hard question, and like anything else in life, it depends.

See, the overall results will depend on how comfortable you feel on a machine and the effort you put into.

Chances are, the machine you feel most comfortable in will allow you to put the most effort into, letting you burn more calories. If you feel awkward on a machine, and it actually hurts you in some way, it's going to be a challenge to achieve your desired weight loss.

Nonetheless, when all things are kept constant, The American College of Sports Medicine  indicates that elliptical trainers have a greater fat burning capacity than stationary bikes.

 Remember that elliptical machines target a variety of muscles, and any time you get more muscles involved, the more you’ll use more energy to complete each movement.

However, understand that both of these machines will allow you to lose weight effectively. It's only that the elliptical wins over the stationary in the number of calories burned. Nonetheless, the difference is quite minimal.


Variability is of the essence as it determines how likely you’re to hit a plateau or how likely you’re to drop from a program.

The elliptical wins here because it lets you perform a variety of movements, including moving forward, backward as well as steep or shallow incline. Also, it allows you to vary the resistance, thus giving you plenty of options to work with.

On the contrary, the stationary bike, though it allows you to work out while watching TV, and lets you vary the resistance, it's simply not enough to create an interesting workout.


Both the elliptical and the stationary bike are quite close.

They will both allow you to perform cardio workouts, tone your muscles, and boost your endurance.

However, they do come with some dissimilarity, and these perhaps will determine the suitability of each equipment four fitness needs.

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

  • your post is really very good. I would like to thank you for sharing such a motivational post to do workout daily is really very good. If you do exercise daily for at least 30 min then also you see a good chance in your health. I think both Exercise Bike and Elliptical Machine are good for a workout. In fact buy or Rent treadmill, cross trainer, exercise bike, an elliptical machine at a very affordable price is a good option and enjoy your workout at home.

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