Stationary Bike vs. Elliptical – Looking at the Pros and Cons of Each Cardio Machine 

Stationary Bike vs. Elliptical

November 16, 2019

If you want to lose weight, get stronger, and build endurance, then you need a good cardiovascular workout regimen to help you reach your fitness goals. Cardio workouts help you get stronger, boost your stamina, shed unwanted pounds, and make you feel healthier and happier.

However, even with all the benefits of working out, the truth is that most people don’t have the time to go to the gym. That is why investing in workout equipment and working out at home has become quite a popular choice. But, with a limited budget and space at home, how do you know which machine you should invest in?

To answer that question, take a closer look at stationary bikes and elliptical machines, two of the most popular options at the gym, and see which one is more appropriate for you, your workout level, your space and budget, and your overall fitness goals.

The Similarities Between a Stationary Bike and an Elliptical Machine

There are many similarities between the stationary bike and the elliptical machine, which can make it a little difficult to decide which one will serve you best. Both of these machines are cardiovascular workout machines that will help you improve your stamina and endurance, shed calories, and strengthen your cardiovascular system.

These machines both have low impact on the joints as well. Unlike the treadmill, which closely mimics walking or running, stationary bikes and elliptical machines provide cushioning on the joints to prevent them from absorbing your full body weight during the workout. In the long run, both machines will help prevent muscle wear and tear that comes with walking and running.

However, this is where their similarities end. Both pieces of equipment target different muscles, use different movements, usually differ in price, and take up different amounts of space in your home gym. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each.

Pros and Cons: Stationary Bike

Stationary Bike

The best advantage of a stationary exercise bike is that it gives a workout that most people can do. This includes people who are overweight, senior citizens, patients undergoing rehabilitation, and even those who have muscle and joint problems.

The pros of a stationary bike include:


Ease of Use

Because you are seated on a stationary bike, there is less impact on your muscles and joints. Exercising with a stationary bike is something that more people can do for longer periods, as opposed to the elliptical, which requires both upper and lower body movements.



The bike offers a lot of different settings. You can adjust resistance, manipulate cadence, or even make adjustments to ride uphill for seated or standing hill climbs.



A stationary bike allows you more opportunities to multitask while working out. Because you are seated, it’s usually easier to watch television, read a book, or scroll through social media. Most of these would be impossible to do on an elliptical.



While exercise bikes come at different prices, overall you get more quality budget-friendly options for bikes. A budget between $400 and $600 will get you a high-quality bike, while a high-quality elliptical can go for $500 to $800.



Stationary bikes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but generally, they are more sleek and streamlined than elliptical machines, take up less space, and are easier to store.

The cons of a stationary bike include:


Limited to Lower Body Workout

On an exercise bike, you typically work on your thighs and calves. Arm muscles are only activated for balance. Core and abs are worked out during intensive and interval training, helping you lose belly fat, while glutes get a workout during standing resistance rides.


Seat Discomfort

Some people complain that the seat on an upright bike can be quite uncomfortable. Sometimes a pad or cushion can help, but most bike seats do take some getting used to.

Pros and Cons: Elliptical Machine

Elliptical machine

The elliptical machine offers a total body workout and tends to burn more calories per session compared to the stationary bike. However, this is because it’s also a more challenging workout, and because of that, not everyone can do it.

The pros of an elliptical machine include:


Total Body Workout

Because both your upper body and lower body are engaged while using an elliptical machine, you can get a total body workout (80% of the body’s muscles) in just one session. This machine targets the back muscles, arms, chest, and stomach while simultaneously engaging the buttocks, thigh muscles, and legs. Alternatively, if you get tired, you can also hold on to the fixed handles and focus on the lower muscles until you recover.



Similar to stationary bikes, the elliptical machine has several settings you can manipulate including increased resistance and an incline ramp.


Weight-Bearing Exercise

The elliptical machine provides a weight-bearing workout, which means you won’t only strengthen your muscles but improve your bone density as well.


Burns More Calories

Because it is a harder workout overall, a session on the elliptical tends to burn more calories than on the bike. Of course, this will depend on the settings, but 30 minutes on the stationary bike will burn 300-400 calories while 30 minutes on the elliptical can burn 400-600 calories.

The cons of an elliptical machine include:


Bigger and Bulkier

Elliptical machines tend to be bigger and bulkier than stationary bikes. This might be a problem if your home gym space is small.


More Expensive

There are machines with comparable prices, but overall, for the same type of quality, elliptical machines are a bit more expensive than stationary bikes.


Not for Everyone

Because it gives a total body workout, which can be a bit harder, the elliptical machine is not for everybody. This is okay if you will be the sole user of the machine, but a stationary bike can offer a good workout for everyone in your home, young and old alike.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, each piece of equipment has its pros and cons. There is no better choice—it’s all about what is more appropriate depending on your needs. No matter which one you end up buying, what really matters is that you use it on a regular basis to reap the benefits and enjoy the health advantages of the device.

About the author 

Kevin Lee

Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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