Elliptical VS Bike: A Close Look At the Difference

If you have hit the gym before, you have probably been asked to step on an elliptical or a bike; most probably to burn those extra calories. But which one is better for people who are looking to lose weight? Knowing the difference between an elliptical vs. stationary bike can be tricky for people who are new in weight management programs. And such a simple confusion can really affect your workout program and leave you with unwanted results.
In this post, we take a cursory look at the close difference between an elliptical vs. stationary bike. Read on to find out more.

Elliptical VS Bike: Exploring the Difference


The truth is the two machines are perfect for your health. They make excellent additions to your home gym and will amp your exercising routine. However, to determine the best one for your needs you should understand the unique differences that each one of these two great machines has.


#1. Cardio Workout

The cross-trainer (elliptical) and the stationary bike are all good for keeping fit. They both offer significant benefits to the body and importantly will help you in maintaining many cardio related diseases away including cardio arrest and hypertension.

In most cases, the two machines are best recommended for people with joint pains or those who have arthritis as they are safer than running which could easily cause injuries to the hip, ankle, and knee.

Even better they will improve your body workout endurance and leave you with a higher level of body immunity.

The Difference:

What you should know however is, unlike the stationary bike that only concentrates on the lower parts of your body (legs and thighs), the elliptical focuses on the whole body including the upper sections of your body.

Because of this elliptical machines are more demanding than stationary bikes. In fact for older people who do not require grueling workout routines, stationary bikes are usually recommended as they can exercise while seated. Remember, when using elliptical, you are always in a standing position through the drill.

#2. Muscle Toning

If you are wondering, which is better when it comes to toning muscles, Elliptical VS Bike? Then here is your answer!

Both machines are not strength machines but rather cardio machines. Because of this, they will most effectively help you to tone your buttocks and legs. However, they won’t help you to double the mass of your muscles. In short, these machines aren’t made for bodybuilding but endurance.

The Difference

When it comes to tone your muscles, the elliptical machine works slightly above 80% of your body including the upper and lower body parts. For the upper body, this machine will help your chest (pectorals), back (latissimus dorsi), arms muscles such as biceps and triceps, and the stomach (abs).

In addition to that, the elliptical machine will also work your lower muscles especially the buttocks, legs muscles including the calves and tibialis anterior, and finally the thigh muscles and more importantly the hamstring which is a very tight spot located below your gluteal and your quadriceps.

The stationary bike, on the other hand, will concentrate more on the lower muscles. It is however much more difficult to target your abs as that will require you to tighten your handlebars and contract your stomach muscles while at the same time cycling. The biceps and triceps also train on the stationary bike but only to a lower level when compared to the elliptical machines.

The elliptical machine is, therefore, a much more ideal arms trainer for the arms as compared to the stationary bike. However, you need to increase the resistance of both bikes if you need to work out your muscles properly.

#3. Weight Loss

Weight loss is a major concern for people who want to keep fit, get a sexy back, or enjoy the beauty of lean muscles. The good news is both bikes are great when you need to shake off some extra calories.
But of more importance is this, how both these bikes work depend squarely on the intensity of your training, the bikes’ resistance, and the duration of training. Let’s take a look at which machine allows you to burn more calories though.
If we take the same resistances, same training duration, and same intensity for both bikes, this is what you will find out when it comes to elliptical vs. stationary bike in burning calories and aiding in weight loss:

The Difference

The elliptical machine burns 15% more calories compared to the stationary bike. This is attributed to the fact that when using the elliptical you will engage your upper body more often than a stationary bike would.

Additionally, the stand-up posture that the elliptical machine assumes is more ideal for burning more calories as it creates much more resistance and intensity. In case you want to match up the same levels of intensity on a stationary bike, you can always assume the danseuse position on the bike.

#4. Space Saving

Stationary bikes are often smaller in size as compared to elliptical machines. Because of this, they are better for people with smaller training spaces. They are compact and require the most minimal spaces to train too.

Pros & Cons

Elliptical Machine


  • Engages 80% of the body
  • Good for developing endurance
  • Improves body immunity
  • Good for the upper body


  • Takes more space
  • Much more grueling

Stationary Bike


  • Takes less space
  • Good for building endurance
  • Tones lower muscles
  • Good for older people


  • Easy to work with
  • Not quite good for upper body

Bottom Line:

Both machines are good for cardio workouts, toning muscles, keeping fit, and more importantly shedding off weight. However, the entire result depends on the type of intensity that you put in your workout.

You can always amp the resistance of your machines so that you get the best results for all your body weight exercises routines. So Elliptical VS Bike which is better? That’s up to you to decide especially depending on the intensity that you want to go with.

Richard E Pearson

Richard is a passionate Certified Personal Trainer and a motivator. He is helping his clients to achieve their personal health and fitness goals.

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