Cycling vs. elliptical: benefits, disadvantages, similarities and differences

Cycling versus elliptical, both offer effective cardiovascular workouts, but with distinct approaches and benefits. Cycling, encompassing outdoor and indoor forms, provides real-world terrain experience, targeted leg muscle strengthening, and skill development like balance and coordination. However, it poses risks like traffic hazards for outdoor cyclists, and repetitive strain injuries, and can be less effective in inclement weather. Ellipticals offer a low-impact, full-body workout, accommodating joint health and reducing injury risk, allowing for upper-body engagement alongside the lower body. However, they might not match the outdoor appeal of cycling and can offer less dynamic balance training.

Dr. Diane L. Damiano from the National Institutes of Health, United States, in her 2011 study published in Gait & Posture found that elliptical training may have greater transferability to overground walking than cycling based on lower extremity kinematics, suggesting that while both cycling and elliptical training are beneficial, the elliptical’s motion and coordination are more akin to natural walking, potentially offering more direct benefits in gait rehabilitation.

Cycling generally burns more calories than elliptical workouts because it can reach higher intensity levels, with MET values ranging from 6 to 14 depending on speed and resistance. In contrast, the general MET value for a moderate effort on an elliptical trainer is around 5.0. This higher intensity in cycling, especially in vigorous sessions or uphill routes, leads to greater energy expenditure than the typically steady-state, moderate intensity of elliptical workouts. While cycling intensely targets lower body muscles, the elliptical’s inclusion of arm movement increases the cardiovascular demand, enhancing calorie burn. The elliptical also presents a lower risk of injury due to its low-impact nature, making it a safer option for a high-intensity workout.

Cycling vs elliptical, which is better? In this article we will explore the health benefits and disadvantages of both cycling and elliptical, then compare them from calories burned, muscles worked on, bones and joints impact, cardio intensity, heart health, adjustability, injury risk, cost and space requirement. Then we analyze how to choose between cycling and elliptical, whether outdoor or indoor cycling is better than elliptical, and which is better for the elderly, younger people and pregnancy

Table of Contents

Benefits of cycling vs elliptical

The benefits of cycling vs elliptical are varied: cycling enhances lower body strength, improves outdoor navigation skills, and offers real-world terrain challenges, while the elliptical provides a full-body workout with less joint impact and promotes balance and coordination. Common benefits of both include improved cardiovascular health, increased calorie burn, enhanced endurance, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, and improved mental health due to the release of endorphins.

Professor Robert Topp, PhD from the University of Toledo, USA, in his clinical research found that a 30-minute session on a seated elliptical trainer significantly improved heart rate response, leg flexibility, and user satisfaction, especially among older adults, suggesting its effectiveness in enhancing cardiovascular health and flexibility, making it a suitable exercise tool for sedentary individuals and older populations.

Cycling and elliptical offer special benefits because they cater to different exercise preferences and needs: cycling is particularly beneficial for those seeking outdoor activity, and targeted leg muscle development, and it’s a practice that can be integrated into daily routines like commuting, whereas elliptical training is ideal for individuals seeking a low-impact, full-body workout that is easy on the joints and suitable for all fitness levels, providing a safe and effective option for cardiovascular and strength training without the need for specialized skills or outdoor access.

Common benefits of cycling and elliptical

The seven common benefits of cycling and elliptical, encompassing both physical and psychological aspects, include improved cardiovascular health, enhanced endurance, lower body strengthening, weight management, low-impact exercise, stress reduction, and increased flexibility and balance.

  1. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Both cycling and elliptical workouts elevate heart rate, enhancing heart function and reducing the risk of heart-related diseases.
  2. Enhanced Endurance: Regular use of either equipment significantly increases stamina and overall physical endurance, crucial for daily activities and athletic performance.
  3. Lower Body Strengthening: These exercises target key lower body muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves – helping to build muscle tone and strength.
  4. Weight Management: They are effective in burning calories and fat, aiding in weight loss and maintenance, essential for overall health.
  5. Low-Impact Exercise: Both provide workouts that are easier on the joints compared to high-impact exercises, making them suitable for people of all ages, including those with joint issues or recovering from injuries.
  6. Stress Reduction: Engaging in cycling or elliptical workouts can lead to the release of endorphins, reducing stress levels and enhancing overall mood and mental health.
  7. Increased Flexibility and Balance: Regular use improves joint flexibility and aids in developing better balance and coordination, which are crucial for injury prevention and daily functional movements.

Special cycling benefits compared to elliptical

Five special cycling benefits compared to elliptical include improved outdoor navigation skills, real-world terrain adaptation, enhanced lower body muscle definition, cycling-specific skill development, and the potential for transportation and eco-friendliness.

  1. Improved Outdoor Navigation Skills: Cycling outdoors hones navigational skills and spatial awareness, offering a unique blend of exercise and practical life skills that indoor elliptical training can’t replicate.
  2. Real-World Terrain Adaptation: Riding a bike outside exposes cyclists to varying terrains and inclines, providing natural resistance training and enhancing adaptability to different road conditions.
  3. Enhanced Lower Body Muscle Definition: Regular cycling, especially on varied terrains and inclines, leads to more defined leg muscles, as the constant pushing and pulling against pedals provide targeted strength training.
  4. Cycling-Specific Skill Development: Cycling develops specific skills like balance, coordination, and efficient pedaling techniques, which are not addressed by elliptical workouts.
  5. Potential for Transportation and Eco-Friendliness: Bicycles can serve as a mode of transportation, offering a way to incorporate exercise into daily commutes while also being eco-friendly, benefits not provided by stationary elliptical machines.

Special elliptical benefits compared to cycling

Five special elliptical benefits compared to cycling include a full-body workout, lower impact on joints, a safer indoor environment, versatility in backward pedaling, and consistent workout conditions regardless of the weather.

  1. Full-Body Workout: The elliptical engages both upper and lower body muscles simultaneously, offering a more comprehensive workout than cycling, which primarily focuses on the lower body.
  2. Lower Impact on Joints: Elliptical machines provide a low-impact exercise option, ideal for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries, unlike the repetitive impact associated with cycling.
  3. Safer Indoor Environment: Using an elliptical indoors eliminates risks related to outdoor cycling such as traffic hazards, uneven terrains, and accidents.
  4. Versatility in Backward Pedaling: Elliptical machines allow for backward pedaling, which can activate different muscle groups and add variety to workouts, a feature not typically available in standard cycling.
  5. Consistent Workout Conditions Regardless of Weather: Elliptical training is unaffected by external weather conditions, offering a reliable and controlled environment for exercise at any time, unlike outdoor cycling which can be hindered by bad weather.

Common benefits of cycling and elliptical

Cycling vs elliptical for health benefits

Cycling and elliptical exercises offer varied health benefits, including impacts on endurance, stamina, sciatica, heart health, diabetes management, lower back pain, and knee pain. This table below demonstrates that while both cycling and elliptical workouts are beneficial for overall health, they have different impacts on specific health conditions, with cycling focusing more on lower body endurance and elliptical providing a more balanced full-body workout with less strain on the back and knees.

Health BenefitCyclingElliptical
EnduranceExcellent for building endurance, especially in leg muscles.Good for building overall body endurance.
StaminaImproves overall stamina, beneficial for prolonged physical activities.Enhances stamina with a full-body workout approach.
SciaticaCan aggravate sciatica due to prolonged seated position.Lower risk of aggravating sciatica due to standing position.
Heart HealthGreat for cardiovascular health, and improves heart function.Excellent for heart health, offers an effective cardiovascular workout.
DiabetesHelps in managing diabetes by improving glucose metabolism.Aids in diabetes control through efficient calorie burning.
Lower Back PainMight cause or exacerbate lower back pain due to cycling posture.Lower risk of lower back pain due to upright posture.
Knee PainLow impact on knees, but improper cycling form can lead to pain.It has a very low impact on knees, ideal for people with knee pain.

Cycling vs elliptical for health benefits

Associate Professor Mikel Egaña from Trinity College Dublin in his medical research found that elliptical trainer and cycling both lead to significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, as evidenced by increased VO2max and ventilation rates following a 12-week training program, with these improvements being comparable across treadmill, elliptical, and stair-climbing modalities, indicating that both elliptical and cycling are effective for enhancing aerobic capacity and overall health.

Disadvantages of cycling vs elliptical

Disadvantages of cycling vs elliptical are varied due to cycling’s increased risk of traffic-related accidents, demand for balance, potential for lower back and knee pain, and elliptical’s limitation in offering real-world experience, lower natural movement pattern, and reduced lower body conditioning compared to cycling. Cycling can lead to an increased risk of traffic accidents, requires balance and coordination, and may cause lower back and knee pain due to posture and repetitive motion. Elliptical machines, while safer indoors, can lack the real-world cycling experience, offer limited lower body conditioning compared to cycling, and may not provide as natural a movement pattern. Common disadvantages of both include the potential for repetitive strain injuries, limited upper body workout (especially in cycling), cost of equipment, space requirements for home equipment, and the need for regular maintenance.

Cycling and elliptical have special disadvantages because, in cycling, the outdoor elements can pose additional risks and discomforts, and improper bike fit can lead to injuries. Elliptical machines, on the other hand, might not offer the same level of cardiovascular intensity as cycling, especially outdoor cycling, and can become monotonous due to the repetitive nature of the exercise.

Common disadvantages of cycling and elliptical

The 5 most common disadvantages of cycling and elliptical are limited upper body engagement, potential for repetitive strain injuries, dependency on equipment, space requirements for home equipment, and the need for regular maintenance, because:

  1. Limited Upper Body Engagement: Both activities focus primarily on lower body muscles, which means they don’t provide a comprehensive upper body workout, potentially leading to imbalances in muscle development.
  2. Potential for Repetitive Strain Injuries: The repetitive nature of both cycling and elliptical movements can lead to overuse injuries, particularly in the knees, hips, and lower back.
  3. Dependency on Equipment: Unlike exercises like running or bodyweight workouts, both cycling and elliptical training require specific equipment, which can be a barrier in terms of cost and accessibility.
  4. Space Requirements for Home Equipment: For those looking to exercise at home, both bikes and ellipticals take up significant space, which can be a challenge in smaller living environments.
  5. Need for Regular Maintenance: Both types of equipment require regular maintenance to ensure smooth functioning and longevity, which can add to the overall cost and effort required for their use.

Special cycling disadvantages compared to elliptical

Five special cycling-only disadvantages compared to elliptical are increased risk of accidents, weather dependency, outdoor safety concerns, higher impact on lower back and knees, and the need for more specialized skills, because:

  1. Increased Risk of Accidents: Outdoor cycling carries a risk of traffic-related accidents and falls that aren’t present with indoor elliptical training.
  2. Weather Dependency: Cycling outdoors is heavily dependent on weather conditions, which can limit the consistency and frequency of workouts.
  3. Outdoor Safety Concerns: Road bike and mountain bike cyclists must be cautious of external factors like traffic, road conditions, and navigation, adding a layer of safety concerns that elliptical users don’t face.
  4. Higher Impact on Lower Back and Knees: The posture and mechanics of cycling can lead to strain on the lower back and knees, especially over long distances or with poor bike ergonomics.
  5. Need for More Specialized Skills: Cycling requires balance, coordination, and sometimes technical skills for gear shifting and handling, which are not necessary for using an elliptical.

Special elliptical disadvantages compared to cycling

Five special elliptical-only disadvantages compared to cycling are less dynamic lower body workout, limited real-world skill development, monotonous movement pattern, less effective in building bone density, and reduced outdoor experience, because:

  1. Less Dynamic Lower Body Workout: The elliptical often provides a less intense lower body workout than cycling, particularly lacking the variable resistance and terrain challenges outdoor cycling offers.
  2. Limited Real-World Skill Development: Using an elliptical doesn’t enhance real-world skills like navigation and balance that are integral to cycling, especially outdoors.
  3. Monotonous Movement Pattern: The repetitive motion of elliptical training can become monotonous over time, lacking the variety and spontaneity found in cycling routes.
  4. Less Effective in Building Bone Density: The low-impact nature of the elliptical is less effective than cycling, especially outdoor cycling, in promoting bone density due to the lack of weight-bearing exercise.
  5. Reduced Outdoor Experience: Elliptical training lacks the outdoor experience and associated mental health benefits of fresh air and changing scenery that cycling, particularly outdoor cycling, provides.

Common disadvantages of cycling and elliptical

Cycling vs elliptical injuries

Cycling can lead to a range of specific injuries because of its posture and mechanics: neck pain due to the forward-leaning position, lower back pain from prolonged bending, hip pain from repetitive pedaling motion, hand and wrist pain due to pressure on handlebars, groin pain from saddle pressure, knee pain from the strain of pedaling, and foot pain from continuous pressure on the pedals. In contrast, elliptical training may lead to fewer of these issues because of its low-impact, standing design: it’s less likely to cause neck and hand/wrist pain as there’s no forward lean or handlebar pressure, and the standing position reduces the risk of lower back and groin pain. However, improper use or overuse of the elliptical can still lead to hip, knee, and foot pain, similar to cycling, but generally at a lower intensity due to its less stressful nature on these joints.

Assistant Professor Janice M. Moreside from Dalhousie University, Canada, found that elliptical training often leads to greater average lumbar flexion angles and lumbar rotation compared to walking, with variations depending on stride length, speed, and hand position, and that while total lumbar flexion/extension was similar to walking, muscle activation patterns differed, with higher gluteal muscle activation on the elliptical and selective higher activation of back extensors, latissimi, and internal obliques, indicating specific spinal kinematics and muscle usage risks associated with elliptical use.

Cycling vs elliptical

Cycling and ellipticals are both effective forms of aerobic exercise that offer cardiovascular benefits, but they differ significantly in mechanics and impact. 

From a sports and medical perspective, cycling, particularly outdoors, engages the lower body intensely and can vary in intensity, beneficial for cardiovascular health and leg muscle strengthening but may pose a risk of joint strain or traffic-related injuries; ellipticals, conversely, provides a low-impact, full-body workout that is safer for the joints, making it ideal for all fitness levels, including those with joint or balance concerns. Recreationally, cycling offers the advantage of outdoor exploration and practical transportation, while ellipticals are more suited for consistent, weather-independent indoor workouts, appealing to those who prefer a controlled exercise environment.

Cycling vs elliptical calories

Cycling burns more calories than elliptical workouts based on the average MET values calculated from The Compendium of Physical Activities 2011 database. The general METs for cycling activities is 7.5, while for elliptical activities, it’s 5. This higher MET value in cycling indicates a greater intensity level, leading to higher energy expenditure and calorie burn compared to the elliptical, which offers more moderate-intensity workouts.

For a person weighing 175 lb (79.5 kg), the estimated calories burned during a 30-minute session would be approximately 294 calories for outdoor cycling, 257 calories for indoor stationary biking, and 183.75 calories for elliptical exercise.

Cycling vs elliptical calories

Here is the detailed 30-minute burned calories in different intensity levels of cycling and elliptical.

Activity TypeMETs ValueCalories Burned (30 mins) – 150 lb (68 kg)Calories Burned (30 mins) – 175 lb (79.5 kg)Calories Burned (30 mins) – 200 lb (90.7 kg)
Cycling burned calories in 30 minutes
Bicycling, general7.5238.13 (68.0 kg)275.63 (79.5 kg)313.12 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, 12-13.9 mph, leisure, moderate effort8.0252.00 (68.0 kg)294.00 (79.5 kg)336.00 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, 14-15.9 mph, racing or leisure, fast, vigorous effort10.0315.00 (68.0 kg)367.50 (79.5 kg)420.00 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, stationary, general7.0219.73 (68.0 kg)257.25 (79.5 kg)294.78 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, stationary, 51-89 watts, light-to-moderate effort4.8151.20 (68.0 kg)176.40 (79.5 kg)201.60 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, stationary, 90-100 watts, moderate to vigorous effort6.8215.60 (68.0 kg)249.90 (79.5 kg)284.20 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, stationary, RPM/Spin bike class8.5269.50 (68.0 kg)312.38 (79.5 kg)355.25 (90.7 kg)
Bicycling, stationary, 101-160 watts, vigorous effort8.8279.04 (68.0 kg)323.40 (79.5 kg)367.76 (90.7 kg)
Elliptical burned calories in 30 minutes
Elliptical, general5.0157.50 (68.0 kg)183.75 (79.5 kg)210.00 (90.7 kg)
Elliptical, light effort4.6144.90 (68.0 kg)169.05 (79.5 kg)193.20 (90.7 kg)
Elliptical, moderate effort4.9153.63 (68.0 kg)179.55 (79.5 kg)205.47 (90.7 kg)
Elliptical, vigorous effort5.7178.83 (68.0 kg)210.08 (79.5 kg)241.33 (90.7 kg)

30 minutes burned calories for elliptical and cycling

Does elliptical or biking burn more calories?

Outdoor cycling burns more calories than indoor cycling and elliptical exercise because it has a higher METs value (7.5 compared to 7.0 for indoor cycling and 5.0 for elliptical), indicating a higher intensity level. For example, for a 150 lb (68 kg) person, outdoor cycling would typically burn approximately 275.63 calories in 30 minutes, indoor cycling would burn about 257.25 calories, and elliptical exercise would burn around 183.75 calories during the same duration.

What loses more weight cycling or elliptical?

Cycling can lose more weight than elliptical because it generally has higher intensity and METs values, leading to greater calorie expenditure, which is crucial for weight loss, fat loss, and belly fat reduction. The table below demonstrates that while both cycling and elliptical are beneficial for weight and fat loss, the higher intensity of cycling makes it more effective for these goals. 

Weight LossHigher intensity and METs value lead to greater calorie burn, aiding more in weight loss.Lower intensity and METs value result in less calorie burn compared to cycling.
Fat LossEffective for overall fat loss, especially with high-intensity cycling.Good for fat loss, but less effective than higher-intensity cycling.
Belly Fat ReductionCan contribute to belly fat reduction but less targeted than full-body workouts.Offers a moderate contribution to belly fat reduction due to lower overall intensity.

Cycling muscles vs elliptical muscles

Cycling works primarily on the lower body muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves due to the pedaling motion, while engaging the core muscles for stability and the upper body muscles lightly for balance. In contrast, the elliptical works these same lower body muscles but with different engagement due to its stride motion; it also significantly engages core muscles for posture and upper body muscles through arm movement, offering a more full-body workout.

Associate Professor Dr. Max R. Paquette from the University of Memphis, USA, in his 2018 research, found that among various cross-training modalities, outdoor cycling and elliptical bike training significantly improved performance factors like running economy and 3,000-m performance in high school runners, with elliptical bike training uniquely enhancing functional movement scores and running economy, indicating that these modalities, particularly cycling, are effective in complementing running training and improving muscle strength and overall athletic performance.

Here’s a comparison table for the muscles targeted by cycling and elliptical:

QuadricepsHeavily engaged in pedalingEngaged in leg movement
HamstringsActivated during the upstrokeInvolved in backward motion
GlutesMajor muscle group used in cyclingEngaged, especially with incline settings
CalvesWorked during the pedal strokeActivated in pushing and pulling motion
Core MusclesLightly engaged for stabilitySignificantly engaged in stability and posture
Upper Body MusclesLess engaged, mainly for balanceMore engaged than in cycling for arm movement

Cycling muscles vs elliptical muscles

This table highlights that while both cycling and elliptical target similar muscle groups in the lower body, the elliptical provides a more comprehensive workout that includes significant upper body and core engagement.

What muscles do the elliptical work vs cycling?

The muscles elliptical works versus cycling are different primarily due to the motion and mechanics of each exercise; elliptical training engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, core muscles, and upper body muscles including the chest, back, and arms because of its standing position and dual-action handlebars, offering a full-body workout, whereas cycling predominantly works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, focusing more on the lower body due to the seated pedaling motion, with minimal upper body engagement.

Can ellipticals build muscle?

Yes, an elliptical can build muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and to some extent, the core and upper body muscles because it provides resistance-based full-body exercise, engaging multiple muscle groups through both lower and upper body movements, leading to muscle strengthening and toning.

Is elliptical good for glutes?

Yes, elliptical is good for glutes because it involves a gliding motion that activates the gluteal muscles through extension and slight rotation at the hip joint, effectively engaging and strengthening these muscles as part of its full-body workout routine.

Is a stationary bike better for your quads than an elliptical?

Yes, a stationary bike is better for your quads than an elliptical because it focuses more intensely on the lower body, particularly the quadriceps, through repetitive pedaling motion which requires continuous force application, leading to targeted strengthening and conditioning of these muscles.

Cycling vs elliptical for bones and joints

Cycling versus elliptical for bones and joints impact differs significantly because cycling, being a lower-impact exercise, puts less stress on the joints, making it suitable for individuals with joint issues or those seeking a lower-risk exercise, but offers limited benefits for bone density due to its non-weight-bearing nature. In contrast, the elliptical provides a low-impact workout that is gentler on the joints compared to high-impact activities, yet still engages the weight-bearing bones to a greater extent than cycling, promoting better bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Associate Professor Dr. Nur Azah Hamzaid from the University of Sydney, Australia, concluded that elliptical stepping is more effective than cycling for lower-limb training and gait rehabilitation, offering greater hip and knee extension, closer-to-neutral ankle joint angles, and significantly higher muscle activation—up to 94% more in the vastii and 141% longer activation in ankle dorsiflexors—making it a superior choice for individuals with disordered walking ability.

Stationary bike vs elliptical for knees

Stationary bike versus elliptical for knees shows that the elliptical is generally better for individuals with knee problems, as it provides a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise that reduces stress on the knee joints, while still allowing for a full range of motion, unlike the stationary bike which can sometimes put more strain on the knees due to its repetitive pedaling motion.

Is an elliptical bad for your knees?

No, an elliptical is not bad for your knees because it offers a low-impact workout that minimizes stress on the knee joints, making it a suitable exercise option for those with knee issues or for preventing knee strain, due to its smooth, gliding motion that simulates natural walking or running without the harsh impact.

Is an elliptical or a stationary bike better for bad knees?

An elliptical is better for bad knees than a stationary bike because its low-impact, weight-bearing exercise mimics natural walking or running motion without causing excessive stress on the knee joints, allowing for a comprehensive cardiovascular workout while minimizing the risk of exacerbating knee pain or injury.

Cycling vs elliptical cardio workout intensity

Cycling versus elliptical cardio workout intensity varies significantly, largely due to differences in METs values and workout dynamics. Indoor and outdoor cycling can offer a range of METs values, from moderate to high (7.5 for general cycling to 10.0 for fast, vigorous effort), allowing for varied cardio intensity that can be particularly high in outdoor settings with natural terrain challenges. On the other hand, indoor elliptical workouts typically have lower METs values (around 5.0 for general usage), indicating a moderate cardio intensity, while outdoor elliptical bicycles can offer a more intense workout, but usually less than vigorous cycling.

PhD Dr. Cédric Morio from Decathlon Research, Department of Movement Sciences, France, in his 2015 research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that elliptical trainers have a higher metabolic cost than cycling at similar relative power outputs, with gross efficiency being lower in elliptical training due to the additional use of arms and standing position, suggesting that while both are effective for physical fitness, ellipticals may demand more energy, making them a more intense workout option compared to cycling.

Elliptical watts vs cycling watts

Elliptical watts versus cycling watts differ primarily in how they’re measured and the typical range of values achieved during workouts. In cycling, watts are calculated based on the force applied to the pedals and the cadence (pedal revolutions per minute), reflecting direct physical exertion and resistance. Average cycling watts can vary widely based on the rider’s fitness level and intensity of the workout, with recreational cyclists averaging around 100-200 watts, while trained athletes can exceed 300 watts.

On the elliptical, watts are calculated by the resistance level set on the machine and the speed or cadence of the user’s stride. However, elliptical machines typically generate lower watt values compared to cycling because the effort is distributed between the legs and arms, and the resistance is often less intense than what can be achieved on a bike. The average watts on an elliptical might range from 50-150 watts for most users, depending on the resistance setting and the user’s effort.

Which is better for high-intensity interval training (HIIT)?

Cycling is better for HIIT than elliptical because it allows for a more dynamic range of high-intensity bursts and rapid variation in resistance, crucial for the quick, intense intervals of HIIT, providing a more effective and challenging cardiovascular and muscular workout.

Cycling vs elliptical for heart health

Cycling versus elliptical for heart health reveals that both improve cardiovascular fitness, but cycling, with its variable intensities and potential for higher resistance, particularly in outdoor settings, can more significantly challenge and strengthen the heart, whereas ellipticals provide a consistent, low-impact cardiovascular workout that is beneficial for maintaining heart health, especially for those with joint concerns or beginners in exercise.

Professor Gregory Brown from the University of Nebraska Kearney, USA, in a 2012 research developed a prediction equation for estimating VO2peak using an elliptical trainer, emphasizing its validity in quantifying cardiorespiratory fitness among young adults, which is essential for preventing coronary heart disease and other health conditions, highlighting the elliptical’s effectiveness in enhancing heart health.

Cycling or elliptical which is better for the heart?

Cycling is better for the heart than elliptical because it typically allows for higher intensity workouts and greater variability in resistance and terrain, especially in outdoor settings, which can lead to more substantial cardiovascular improvements by challenging the heart more effectively, in contrast to the elliptical’s consistent, lower-intensity workout.

Cycling vs elliptical adjustability

Cycling vs elliptical adjustability differs based on the workout format; indoor cycling offers significant adjustability in terms of resistance and seating positions, while outdoor cycling provides natural terrain and resistance variations. Indoor ellipticals also offer adjustable resistance levels and stride lengths, but outdoor elliptical bicycles, although providing a unique experience, may have less adjustability compared to indoor versions or traditional cycling. Thus, indoor cycling and ellipticals generally offer more controlled adjustability, with cycling particularly excelling in the diversity of resistance adjustments and real-world terrain challenges.

Cycling vs elliptical injury risk

Cycling vs elliptical injury risk involves different potential issues; cycling can lead to neck painlower back pain, hip pain, knee strain, groin pain, foot pain, wrist and forearm discomfort, and, in outdoor settings, risks associated with traffic and falls, due to its repetitive pedaling motion and the physical posture required, while ellipticals primarily pose risks of hip and lower back discomfort due to its fixed stride length and standing posture, but generally offer a safer, low-impact alternative to cycling, reducing the likelihood of joint-related injuries.

Cycling vs elliptical cost

The cost differences between cycling and elliptical in terms of price, time, and maintenance are as follows comparison table, which illustrates that cycling, particularly outdoor, may have higher initial costs and time investments due to equipment and travel, along with potentially higher maintenance costs, while ellipticals generally have a moderate to high initial cost but lower ongoing maintenance requirements and time commitments.

Cost FactorCyclingElliptical
PriceVaries; outdoor bikes range from moderate to high cost, and indoor bikes can be more affordableGenerally moderate to high cost, depending on features and quality
TimeTime cost can be higher especially for outdoor cycling due to preparation and travelSimilar time cost for workouts; no additional time for travel or setup
MaintenanceRegular maintenance required for both indoor and outdoor bikes can be costlyMaintenance is usually lower than cycling, but still necessary for longevity

Elliptical vs cycling which is better for busy people?

Elliptical is better for busy people than cycling because it offers a more time-efficient workout with no preparation or travel time, and provides a consistent, controlled environment for exercise, making it ideal for those with tight schedules looking for a quick, effective workout.

Cycling vs elliptical space requirement

Cycling vs elliptical space requirements vary significantly; indoor cycling trainers need about 3.5 x 1.8 feet (1.07 x 0.55 meters) and indoor elliptical trainers require larger space, around 6 x 2.5 feet (1.83 x 0.76 meters), whereas outdoor cycling bikes and outdoor elliptical bicycles don’t demand home workout space but require secure storage, with bikes generally more space-efficient (typically under 6 feet or 1.83 meters in length) compared to bulkier outdoor ellipticals.

Cycling vs Elliptical: How to choose?

To choose between cycling and elliptical exercise, you should consider several factors that align with your fitness goals, physical health, injury risk and history, and time efficiency for your workout.

  1. Assess your fitness goals: If you aim to build lower body strength, enhance cardiovascular endurance, and enjoy the benefits of both lower and upper body engagement, cycling, whether it’s outdoor or indoor, can be a great choice. It offers a more comprehensive workout by engaging your legs for pedaling and your upper body for balance and posture. On the other hand, if your primary goal is low-impact cardio, the elliptical is an excellent option. It reduces the impact on your joints while still providing an effective cardiovascular workout.
  2. Consider your physical health and injury risk or history: If you have joint issues or previous injuries that make high-impact activities like running uncomfortable, the elliptical is a gentler alternative that puts less stress on your joints. Conversely, cycling can be suitable for individuals with healthy joints, offering an option for those who enjoy outdoor activities or have access to indoor stationary bikes.
  3. Evaluate your time efficiency for workouts: Elliptical trainers are known for providing an efficient full-body workout, often requiring less time to achieve the same cardiovascular benefits as cycling. If you have a busy schedule and need a time-effective workout option, the elliptical may be the better choice.

Is cycling better than elliptical?

No, cycling is not inherently better than elliptical, and the choice between the two depends on individual preferences and specific fitness goals. Both cycling and elliptical exercise have their advantages and are effective forms of cardiovascular workouts. Cycling may be better when you prefer outdoor activities, want to engage your upper body for balance and posture or have access to outdoor biking trails. On the other hand, the elliptical can be a better option when you seek a low-impact, full-body workout, or if you have joint issues that require reduced stress on your joints. Ultimately, the decision should be based on personal preferences, fitness goals, and individual circumstances.

Elliptical pros and cons

Elliptical pros are low-impact on joints, provide a full-body workout, offer cardiovascular benefits, have adjustable resistance levels, and are suitable for various fitness levels. Elliptical cons are limited variety of motion, limited weight-bearing benefits, potentially less engaging, bulky equipment in home settings, and limited skill development. 

Elliptical ProsElliptical Cons
Low-impact on jointsLimited variety of motion
Full-body workoutLimited weight-bearing benefits
Cardiovascular benefitsPotentially less engaging
Adjustable resistance levelsBulky equipment in home settings
Suitable for various fitness levelsLimited skill development

Cycling pros and cons

Cycling pros are cardiovascular benefits, lower-impact than running, outdoor enjoyment, muscle strengthening, and calorie burn. Cycling cons are weather-dependent, safety concerns, equipment costs, time-consuming, and potential discomfort. 

Cycling ProsCycling Cons
Cardiovascular benefitsWeather-dependent
Lower-impact than runningSafety concerns
Outdoor enjoymentEquipment costs
Muscle strengtheningTime-consuming
Calorie burnPotential discomfort
How often should you use the elliptical or exercise bike?

You should use the elliptical or exercise bike at least 3 to 5 times a week for effective cardiovascular and fitness benefits. This frequency allows your body to adapt and progress while minimizing the risk of overtraining or burnout. Consistency in your workouts helps improve cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, and overall fitness levels.

However, the exact frequency can vary depending on your individual fitness goals, current fitness level, and the intensity of your workouts. If you’re aiming for weight loss or more significant cardiovascular improvements, you might want to aim for 5 or more days a week. On the other hand, if you’re primarily using these machines for maintenance or general fitness, 3 to 4 times a week may suffice.

Outdoor cycling vs elliptical

Outdoor cycling differs from elliptical exercise in terms of location and terrain, with cycling taking place outdoors on a bicycle, involving varying terrains and weather conditions, while elliptical workouts are conducted indoors on a stationary machine, offering controlled conditions, a full-body workout, and lower-impact exercise.

Outdoor cycling vs outdoor elliptical bicycle

Outdoor cycling involves using a traditional bicycle for exercise, navigating varying outdoor terrains and weather conditions, while outdoor elliptical bicycles, designed for outdoor use, provide a unique elliptical motion workout experience in an outdoor setting, combining elements of cycling with elliptical training for a low-impact, full-body workout.

Indoor cycling bike vs elliptical

Indoor cycling bikes focus primarily on lower body muscles and cardiovascular endurance, offering adjustable resistance for varying intensity levels, while ellipticals provide a low-impact, full-body workout that engages both upper and lower body muscles, including core stabilization, making them distinct in terms of muscle engagement and workout dynamics.

Elliptical machine vs stationary bike

Elliptical machines offer a low-impact, full-body workout by engaging both upper and lower body muscles, with features like adjustable stride and resistance, while stationary bikes focus on the lower body, particularly the legs and cardiovascular system, with variable resistance levels and often come with features like heart rate monitoring and programmed workouts, making each unique in terms of targeted muscle groups and workout experience.

Elliptical trainer vs bike

Elliptical trainers versus bikes differ in their exercise mechanics and impact on the body; the elliptical trainer provides a low-impact, full-body cardiovascular workout that engages multiple muscle groups including the arms, legs, and core, often with adjustable resistance and stride length, whereas bikes, both stationary and outdoor, offer a more focused lower body workout, particularly targeting the legs, with variable resistance that can simulate different terrains, making each suited to different fitness goals and preferences.

Peloton cycle vs elliptical

Peloton cycle vs elliptical differ in their approach to exercise and interactive features; the Peloton bike, known for its immersive experience, offers live and on-demand classes, a vibrant community, and performance tracking, focusing primarily on high-intensity lower body and cardiovascular workouts. In contrast, ellipticals provide a low-impact, full-body workout engaging both the upper and lower body, typically without the extensive interactive content of Peloton, offering a more varied muscle engagement but with less emphasis on community and live class interaction.

Desk cycle vs desk elliptical

Desk cycle and desk elliptical differ in their design and the type of workout they provide; a desk cycle, fitting under a desk, allows for a seated pedaling motion primarily targeting the lower body, often with adjustable resistance and quiet operation for minimal distraction, while a desk elliptical also fits under a desk but offers a more elliptical, striding motion that engages different leg muscles and can sometimes be used while standing, providing a slightly more dynamic and versatile low-impact workout suitable for office environments.

Elliptical vs various types of bikes

While ellipticals consistently offer a full-body, low-impact workout, the various bikes have their unique features, ranging from high-intensity spinning bike workouts to comfortable, lower-body-focused recumbent bike exercises. Here is a comparison table highlighting the differences between ellipticals and various types of bikes.

Seated Cycling Machine vs EllipticalOffers a striding motion, engaging different leg muscles; can be used standing or seatedSeated cycling focuses on leg muscles with a repetitive pedaling motion; ideal for under-desk workouts
Elliptical Machine vs Spinning BikeProvides full-body workout with low impact on joints; adjustable stride and resistanceThe spinning bike offers a high-intensity cycling workout, targeting lower body and cardio; adjustable resistance
Air Bike vs EllipticalFocuses on a full-body workout with less impact on joints; consistent striding motionAir bike incorporates arm movement for a more intense full-body workout; variable resistance based on pedaling speed
Recumbent Bike vs EllipticalSimilar to low-impact exercise, but the elliptical engages more muscle groups including upper bodyThe recumbent bike provides a comfortable seated position for a lower body workout; and less stress on the lower back

Elliptical vs various types of bikes

Indoor cycling vs elliptical vs treadmill vs running

Indoor cycling, elliptical, treadmill, and running offer distinct experiences in terms of impact level, muscle engagement, calories burned and fitness focus, each suited to different fitness goals and preferences. The table illustrates the unique aspects of each exercise, from the low-impact, full-body workout of the elliptical to the high-intensity and high-impact nature of running, catering to a range of fitness needs and preferences. 

ExercisePrimary FocusImpact LevelMuscle EngagementCalorie BurnSuitability
Indoor CyclingLower body strength, cardiovascular enduranceLow impactMainly lower body (legs and glutes)Moderate to highGood for joint health, beginner-friendly
EllipticalFull-body workout, cardiovascular healthLow impactUpper and lower bodyModerate to highLow joint stress, suitable for all fitness levels
TreadmillCardiovascular endurance, running-specific trainingVaries (low for walking, high for running)Lower body, core stabilizationModerate to high (higher for running)Versatile for different fitness levels
RunningOverall cardiovascular fitness, enduranceHigh impactFull body, especially legs and coreHighBest for those without joint issues

Indoor cycling vs elliptical vs treadmill vs running

Which is better elliptical or bike?

The elliptical is better than the bike when seeking a low-impact, full-body workout because it engages more muscle groups, including the upper body, and offers a variety of workout intensities with less stress on the joints, making it more efficient for overall fitness and suitable for a wider range of users.

Is an elliptical better exercise than a stationary bike?

Yes, an elliptical is generally considered a better exercise than a stationary bike from a sport and medical point of view because it provides a low-impact, full-body workout that engages more muscle groups, including the upper body, improving overall cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone with less joint stress, making it suitable for a wider range of users, including those with joint concerns.

Is riding a recumbent bike as good as elliptical?

No, riding a recumbent bike is not as comprehensive as using an elliptical because while it offers a comfortable, low-impact cardiovascular workout focusing on the lower body, it lacks the upper body engagement and weight-bearing exercise provided by an elliptical, which is important for overall muscle balance and bone health.

Is elliptical or cycling better for the elderly?

Yes, the elliptical is generally better for the elderly compared to cycling because it provides a low-impact, full-body workout that is safer for the joints and balance, reducing the risk of falls and strain, which is particularly important for maintaining fitness and mobility in older adults.

Is elliptical or cycling better for younger people?

Yes, cycling can be better for younger people than the elliptical because it offers higher intensity workouts and greater variability, which are beneficial for developing cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and endurance, key aspects for the typically more active and resilient younger demographic.

Is elliptical or cycling better for pregnancy?

Yes, the elliptical is often better for pregnancy than cycling because it provides a low-impact, full-body workout with less risk of balance issues and falls, making it a safer and more comfortable exercise option for expectant mothers, especially as pregnancy progresses and balance becomes more challenging.