It is not the easiest decision when it comes to choosing which machine to use and which equipment will be best for your workout. Of course, you want to be able to utilize your exercising time both efficiently and effectively.
There are many different factors that can weigh into your decision, such as how you want to maximize your energy expenditure, which body parts you want to focus on, and much more. There are so many different components within a single machine that can benefit you and your fitness journey. Let’s dig into some factors that could potentially weigh in your decision on choosing an elliptical or a bike for your next workout.
Getting Familiar With The Machines
First and foremost, let’s get familiar with the machines and what components they have to offer. Each machine is designed with a purpose for the user to obtain a great workout.
What Is An Elliptical Machine?
An elliptical is typically a stationary machine that can stimulate the same movements as if you were walking, hiking, and cycling, to name a few. One of the biggest pros that come with this type of machine is due to its low impact on your joints due to your feet maintaining contact with the platforms throughout the whole workout. Because you are never really picking up your feet, your knees, hips, and back will thank you.
There are also some elliptical machines out there like the StreetStrider, which has additional benefits. Due to its mobility, this machine can mimic movements of running and jogging as well, while still saving your joints from the potential harm of hard pavement.
An elliptical has moveable handlebars for your arms to get a little bit of a workout as well. There are features on almost every elliptical that enable you to change the workout’s intensity by increasing the resistance and incline of the machine. It also has the ability for you to either use a front pedaling or reverse pedaling motion, challenging different parts of your upper and lower body.
What Is A Bicycle?
A bike is a pedal-driven vehicle consisting of two wheels and a handlebar used for steering. There are also stationary bikes that mimic the same movements as if you were riding your bike down the street. It resembles everything about a bicycle, minus the appearance of the wheels. Your feet are constantly on the pedal, so you are also able to save your joints from pressure regardless if it is stationary or not.
Comparing The Elliptical And The Bike
When it comes to choosing a machine, it is important to be familiar with the different benefits that you can get from either the elliptical, the bike, or both! Let’s talk about what benefits you can get, no matter what machine you choose to use.
Mobility And Stationary
In the past, one of the biggest differences between the two machines was the outdoor use of the bicycle. Now, with machines like StreetStrider, they can both be used as a mode of transportation and can be used to explore the outdoors. Additionally, both machines are also available for indoor use as you can still get the benefits while remaining stationary.
Low Joint Impact
As we mentioned previously, with both machines, your feet are almost always contacting the platforms or pedals. Because of this, there is less of an impact placed on your joints as you move from point A to point B. This is a wonderful benefit to consider for older adults or for people with osteoarthritis. With both the elliptical and the bike, you are able to prevent further injury to your joints while still being able to increase your aerobic capacity.
With both machines, you are able to still condition and strengthen your cardiovascular system. By increasing your heart rate during each workout and making your body work harder for adequate blood flow, you are able to build up your heart's tolerance and stability. This helps to support a stronger system, which can help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
The elliptical machine and the bike are both a great way to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine. By working both your cardiovascular system and different muscle groups, you are able to enjoy the benefits of exercising. Your body works to provide sufficient energy during your workout by burning off calories stored in your body.
Contrasting The Elliptical Vs. The Bike
Understanding the benefits of each of these machines can help sway your decision on which to choose during your workout. The similarities between the two were previously mentioned and now, let’s discuss why one may be a better option for you.
Depending on what muscle groups you are looking to tone, the elliptical and bike both focus on different areas of the body. With a bike, you will be focusing more of your attention on your quadriceps and calves. The bike can also offer some core strengthening, although you must consciously be tightening your abdominal muscles during your workout to gain the benefits.
The elliptical offers both an upper body and a lower body workout. With the use of the swinging arm handles, you are able to tone muscles such as your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and chest. The foot platform provides movement to your lower body as well by toning areas such as your gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
By utilizing both your upper and lower body, your core is also constantly engaged during your workout. And with the mobile ability of the StreetStrider, your core is constantly engaged as it is the primary method of steering. With proper form, the elliptical machine can work up to 80% of the muscle groups in your body.
Whether stationary or mobile, the bicycle tends to put a lot of strain on your back muscles. When in a sitting position, your body tends to slouch over, creating an uncomfortable, stress-bearing posture. The hunched over posture creates unnatural sharp angles along your spine, specifically in the lumbar and cervical regions.
With the elliptical being in a standing position, your body naturally tends to straighten out your back. Proper posture alignment is essential for reducing the risk of injury to your muscles and joints. It also contributes to increasing productivity, as your muscles are in an optimal position to be working efficiently. Obtaining a proper posture supports good health and prevents your body from deteriorating.
As both the elliptical and bike are a means of exercise, the elliptical allows you to burn about 15% more calories during your workout. This, in part, has to do with the number of muscles that are continuously working while on the elliptical machine versus the bike. The more muscles that are working to provide energy and the more your heart has to work to provide adequate blood flow to all of those muscles; it only makes sense that your body will be using more calories to provide sufficient energy.
The Elliptical Bike
Deciding between whether to utilize the elliptical or the bicycle can be quite challenging due to their different features. Fortunately, there is an exercise machine out there that combines the benefits of both into one! The StreetStrider is an elliptical bike, which quite literally is exactly how it sounds. The foot platforms move in an elliptical motion.
The moving motion is the same concept as riding a bicycle in that the pedaling motion converts into the forward momentum needed to move. You can also generate power by moving the arm levers, which is also an incredible upper body workout. Your core is also engaged to keep the StreetStrider straight and with the lean-to-steer turning system.
In summary, every person has a different objective that they seek to accomplish during their workout. Some things that can influence your decision could depend on your current health status or whether you are looking to lose or maintain your weight. When you are deciding between using the elliptical or the bike, keep in mind that both will provide benefits that can contribute to your goal. These similarities include mobility, low joint impact, cardiovascular benefits, and weight management.
On the contrary, there are some factors that set one machine apart from the other. The elliptical can provide a full-body workout, encourages a more proper posture, and can help you burn more calories within your workout. So with either option you choose, you can still gain the benefits of incorporating some type of physical activity into your lifestyle. But given some of the differences between the two, which option is better for you?