Getting your cardio in is a part of having a balanced and complete fitness routine. Not everyone wants to get that cardio in the same way, however. There are those going for a run, a bike ride, a swim, or using any of the many cardio machines available in the gym.

As far as these are concerned, choosing which will fit your comfort level, as well as your fitness goals, can be daunting. This article is going to concern itself with the differences between the elliptical and the stationary bike. Both of these have an advantage over the treadmill in that they minimize impact strain caused by running. But then, what difference does it make to use one over the other?

Differential Targeting of Muscle Groups

Being primarily cardio machines and not strength machines, neither one of these machines focus on growing muscles, but instead, they focus on burning fat. Still, they both activate muscle groups in the body that will result in increased overall fitness and muscle tone.

The stationary bike, whether it be the upright bike or spin bicycles, work to target the thighs and the calves primarily. While the upper body is used to hold yourself up, the majority of the workout is centered on your lower body. You can work your abs while on the stationary bike by contracting and relaxing the area while cycling, but the real workhorse would be your legs. This is why sites like champion the use of stationary bikes, as surfers and wakeboarders want to focus solely on their lower body and leave their upper bodies much leaner.

The elliptical, on the other hand, is used while standing upright and offers a more whole-body workout. Both the upper and the lower body is engaged, with nearly all of the major muscle groups getting some form of exercise during elliptical training. Your biceps and triceps move the handles of the machine back and forth, while you also move the pedals with the entirety of your lower body, and not just through the power in your legs. To this effect, the elliptical provides a more comprehensive workout. Those who want to improve their overall level of fitness are well-served by an elliptical bike.

Calories Burned

While a lazy workout will lead to lazy results regardless of the machine you use, if appropriately used, both machines are effective at burning calories, which allows you to lose weight.

In one hour, you’ll burn around 400 to 750 calories on a stationary bike. On an elliptical, you can expect to burn 450-830 calories in an hour. This might seem like only a small difference. However, if you’re having difficulty finding the most effective workout to fit in your busy schedule, the elliptical is the better choice.

This is because the elliptical engages a more substantial portion of the body during use. Also, this means you’ll be more tired after a session on the elliptical than on the stationary bike. It all depends on how you feel on a given day – more calories burned, or a more comfortable workout?

Parting Words

In the end, they’re both very similar machines in that they allow you to get an effective cardio workout with only 30-45 minutes of training. You should choose the elliptical if you’re looking for a full body workout that burns lots of calories. Choose the stationary bike if you just want to focus on your legs and take things at a more leisurely pace.