Elliptical vs. Exercise Bike - What’s the Difference?

Elliptical vs. Exercise Bike - What’s the Difference?

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If you are interested in getting in shape, consider purchasing an elliptical or an exercise bike to add to your home gym. Both pieces of equipment offer excellent opportunities for improving your overall level of health, but understanding the differences between these options will help you to better determine which option is best for you.

Fitness expert Stevie Richards states, 'Whether you're on an elliptical or an exercise bike, the destination remains the same: a healthier you.' Both options offer valuable cardio benefits, with the elliptical providing a graceful, full-body workout and the exercise bike offering focused intensity for endurance and lower body strength."

Exploring the Elliptical

Elliptical machines are unique in that they allow you to work on your legs and arms while also improving cardio. To use an elliptical machine, you simply stand in an upright position and hold onto the handles. You then slide the footrests back and forth while pulling and pushing the handles with your arms. You can choose to place more of an emphasis on either your arms or your legs as part of your workout routine. Or, if you choose, you can release the handles completely as you work on your leg muscles and engage your core muscles through balance.

Elliptical machines typically come pre-programmed with a variety of workout routines that allow you to target different fitness goals. While some programs target your heart rate in order to burn calories, others adjust the resistance to simulate climbing hills or other activities in order to work out different muscle groups. By gliding your feet in the backward position or adjusting your body in various ways, such as squatting as you workout, you can further target additional muscle groups.

Exploring Exercise Bikes

When purchasing an exercise bike, you have three main options to consider: indoor cycles, upright bikes, and recumbent bikes. Indoor cycles utilize a flywheel and brake system that is quite similar to the system that is found on road bikes. As such, you can stand while pedaling on an indoor cycle. You will also need to adjust the handlebars to accommodate your height and you will need to lean forward in a somewhat crouched position in the same way as you would with a road bike. Indoor cycles also have resistance knobs that can be turned to modify the resistance in a way that is similar to switching gears.

Upright cycles look similar to road bikes, but they utilize magnets to create resistance. Like elliptical machines, they tend to come with pre-programmed workout routines that will allow you to target various fitness goals. You do not need to lean forward when using an upright cycle and upright cycles generally have more comfortable seats than indoor cycles.

Recumbent bicycles feature a seat that is more like a chair, thereby providing exceptional comfort and back support. The seat is also located closer to the ground with the pedals out in front rather than below the rider. Recumbent bicycles are great for burning calories and exercising the legs, but they do not provide as intense of a workout as other exercise bike options. Due to the lower center of gravity and more comfortable seat, however, they are a good option for those who want to minimize strain.