Treadmill Vs Stationary Bike – What’s the Best Cardio Tool? [2023]

Last Updated on December 10, 2022 by Patrick

Treadmill Vs Stationary Bike

Cardio equipment can be a bit confusing at times. You’re looking for something that’ll give you a great workout at home. The next thing you know, your trainer is talking about the benefits of something called a “stationary bike” while your friend retorts by saying it’s all just a scam and to just use a treadmill instead (all while judging you for not running outside).

If you’re just getting started with your fitness program (or don’t know enough about home gym equipment) then this is a ripe opportunity for your lazy side to coax you into skipping your workouts. Don’t let that happen!

There are pros and cons to each type of equipment out there and today we’ll talk about two of them: treadmills and exercise bikes.


First of all, let’s get the argument of “Why don’t you just run outside?” out of the way. While running outside is ideal (which is why so many competitions are held outside) there is another side of the story – the weather and your personal health condition.

Do you expect to run outside if it is raining cats and dogs? What about when it starts to hail or you’re living in Texas and it’s 100F?

Another equally important thing is your personal health. If you’ve just started to recover from an injury then you need to take it slow. No need to twist your heel on the gravel and hit the sack for the next week – again!

Treadmill vs stationary bike
Treadmill Advantages

Bike vs Treadmill – Treadmill Advantages

Alright, with that out of the way – let’s explore the benefits of treadmills.

1. Resistance Levels

Despite what Hollywood portrays, treadmills don’t have to be set on “walk mode” perpetually. You can play around with the resistance levels – go faster, simulate uphill landscapes, and even make it harder to walk.

Working out on a treadmill at a high resistance level is a great way to not only stimulate calorie burn and reduce body weight, but also to grow your leg muscles, especially if you take advantage of your treadmills incline levels!

A high intensity treadmill session can be a great way to grow muscle mass in your legs as well as strengthen your core muscles!

2. Less dirt

Since you’re going to be using an indoor machine, your clothing and shoes are going to take less of a beating. Call me frugal but if that means I get to save $30 on detergent during the off-season that’s great!

Bike vs Treadmill – Treadmill Disadvantages

Although treadmills are great, they do have some disadvantages:

1. Space

Treadmills aren’t exactly space-savers! While your physical stature plays a role in the type of treadmill you purchase, the dimensions do not vary significantly.

2. Maintenance

Treadmills are specialized equipment, which means they have components that need to work in a specific order. Unfortunately, this means that when these components fail they require expert help – which can manifest itself in terms of time or money.

Exercise Bikes

Now that we’ve seen what treadmills have to offer, let’s take a look at exercise bikes.

Treadmill vs stationary bike
Stationary Bike Advantages

Bike vs Treadmill – Stationary Bike Advantages

1. Cardio

One reason that kids are fit? They ride their bikes – a lot. How many of us knew that we improved our cardiovascular health when we rode our bikes as children?

When we’re doing cardiovascular exercise we are actively lowering our blood pressure, improving our brain functioning, and are building our immune system to be stronger? Well, if you didn’t know, now you know!

In fact, a 2019 study conducted by UCAM Research Center for High Performance Sport, Catholic University of Murcia, Spain concluded that “Three months of IC, as standalone therapy or combined with strength training or liraglutide, may be effective to improve aerobic capacity.”.

Exciting isn’t it?

2. Ease into tougher workouts

Exercise bikes allow you to ease into a fixed posture that allows you to target specific muscles (like calves and hamstrings) without applying pressure on your knees and joints.

Since you won’t feel the impact that you would with a normal bike, you can actually focus the rest of your energy towards building your core and upper body. Twin-benefits sound great don’t they?

3. High Intensity Interval Training

Think that there’s only one way to ride a exercise bike? Oh no – there’s a lot of room to get creative with your workouts!

If you’re just starting out, then you can do the usual 30 minute consistent speed workout. After you feel confident enough to raise the bar, switch between low-intensity and high-intensity pedaling. This is not only going to give you a better workout but will help you burn off more calories (and thus fat!) along the way.

If you’re looking to lose weight, then you alternate between medium-intensity and high-intensity for about 15 minutes and then cool down by pedaling at low-intensity.

Okay, at this point, you must be wondering: “What constitutes as “low”, “medium”, or “high” intensity?”. The answer is simple: whatever it looks like for you!

If you’ve haven’t worked out in months, then *your* high-intensity isn’t going to match the high-intensity of an Olympian (or perhaps medium for that matter). But what you can do is slowly change those definitions.

If you put in the work, you can change what is currently your medium-intensity to be your low-intensity. Remember: baby steps!

Bike vs Treadmill – Stationary Bike Disadvantages

Alright, let’s take a quick look at the cons of a stationary bike:

1. Where’s the fresh air?

Let’s be honest – cycling feels much better when the winds are blowing in your face, and you can smell the dirt! With indoor cycling, it’s just you and a maybe a scented candle.

In a study carried out by the Faculty of Sport Science, University of EXtremadura, Spain researchers were able to conclude that indoor cycling in combination with a healthy diet was seen to improve lipid profiles, reduce blood pressure and help lose weight.

However, Dustin R. Slivka at the University of Nebraska at Ohama in an interview with Prevention commented that, “Our research indicates that when riding at the same perceived intensity, you are actually producing around 25% less power indoors compared to an outdoor session.”.

While it’s not possible to recommend what you should individually, turning up your intensity on the bike every few minutes should balance everything in the long run!

2. Cutting corners

This is connected to the above point because you can’t change the landscape of the terrain you’re riding outside. With a stationary bike, though, you can fiddle with the resistance levels or even stop the workout prematurely (as opposed to the outdoors where you’ll have to continue if you want to get back home!).

Treadmill vs Stationary Bike For Weight Loss

Bike vs Treadmill – Which is Better For Weight Loss?

Before we wrap-up, let’s compare the argument of whether you burn more calories and lose more weight on a treadmill or on a stationary bike:

According to this data from Harvard Medical School, a 30 minute session on a stationary cycle can burn anywhere from 210 to 441 calories, depending on the weight of the rider and intensity of the workout. (That’s .7 – 1.47 McDonalds Cheeseburgers per 30 minutes in case you were wondering.)

When it comes to the treadmill, 30 minutes of running can burn up to 671 calories, but take that figure with a grain of salt, to achieve that level of calorie burn, you’ll need to run at 10mph pace for the full 30 minutes. Running at a more leisurely 5 – 6mph pace can help you burn between 240 – 420 calories in the same 30 minute period.

Doing the math, that means that you can burn up to 1342 calories per hour on a treadmill, or 882 calories per hour on an exercise bike.

It’s important to note that all of these numbers vary based on several factors including your weight, gender and the intensity of your workout so realistically, you’ll burn more calories, lose more weight and burn more belly fat on whichever piece of cardio equipment you prefer to use for longer.

The bottom line is that the real winner when it comes to bike vs treadmill for burning calories and weight loss is the machine that you are more comfortable with and will use more consistently in your exercise routine.

Treadmill vs Stationary Bike – Which is Safer?

The injury rate for exercise machines like stationary bikes and treadmills is important to take into account.

Treadmills, because they so accurately mimic running in real world conditions, come with some of the same concerns. Running on the treadmill is a high impact activity and most all of the common runner injuries should be taken into account.

The exercise bike on the other hand, is a much lower impact activity and the danger you face from this sort of exercise is relatively minor. Your butt may get sore from sitting, your knees may hurt from the constant spinning motion and your back may get sore depending on your posture while riding. These issues are pretty minor and very manageable.

Also, if you’re worried about the safety factor of having one of these cardio training machines around the house, then it’s probably safer to buy an exercise bike. It’s harder for infants to climb up and exert the force needed to pedal as opposed to accidentally getting their little fingers stuck in the treadmill ramps.

So which is the right machine for you – a treadmill or stationary bike?

Further Reading

Want to Learn More About Aerobic Exercise?

Upright Exercise Bike vs Spin Bike

Is it worth it to have a treadmill at home? (Yes)

Elliptical vs Treadmill – The cardio throwdown!

Ready to Start Building Your Home Gym?

Start Here! – Best Home Exercise Equipment For Beginners

Working out on a budget? – Best Home Gym Weight Benches Under $350

The original was a hit, check this new and improved bench!

All in One Solutions – 7 Best All in One Home Gyms

Interested in Some Anaerobic Exercise?

Front Squat vs Back Squat – Which is best?

Alternating Sets – Secret weapon in your fitness arsenal?

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