Treadmill vs Bike which exercise machine is better cardio for you

It’s almost new years and you know what that means? People all over are going to have new years resolutions. And some of the most popular resolutions are to get fit, get in shape or lose weight. So many peeps are trying to decide should I get a treadmill vs a bike? Which one is better for those aforementioned resolutions. The great news is that in this post we are going to break all that down and help you decide which exercise machine is the best option for you.  This post is all about the Treadmill vs Bike and which exercise machine is better cardio for you.

Which is better the treadmill or bike?

I know, that’s a tough one. As someone who has been a crossfitter for 13 years and a crossfit coach for 12 years, I honestly can say both exercise machines have amazing benefits and can get your heart rate up in a flash! Both are a great option for increasing your fitness level as well! It really depends what your fitness goals are.

Let’s start with the treadmill. The treadmill is great for (the obvious), training indoors during winter. It also can be a wonderful way to burn calories fast through HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts.   Another benefit is that since walking and running are considered a weight-bearing exercise (which means we are boosting our bone density when choosing this type of exercise), the treadmill is an effective way to add those health benefits into your exercise routine as well.

The treadmill is great if your preferred method of exercise is running or walking. Running is a quick way to burn calories and get into cardio shape in a jiffy. I personally use the treadmill as part of my exercise routine at LEAST 1x per week.

Why I love the treadmill:

With a treadmill workout you can do some amazing interval workouts and burn calories/fat fast. Here is an example of one I did earlier today:

  • Every 4 min: Run 500m.  Rest remaining time.  Repeat 8x.

You could change this any distance you wanted, I would just choose something challenging that gets your heart rate up!

What are some other benefits of the treadmill?

You can walk on the treadmill for a low impact workout. Adding an incline or steep grade is a great option for a weight loss workout. Here’ an example of a walking workout:

  • Walk at a 4.0 for 2 min.
  • Decrease speed to 3.5 and increase grade to 10% for a minute.
  • Walk at a 3.0 for one minute. Repeat 10x.

This would be a great workout for your legs and butt. And, minimal impact to your joints!

If you have a treadmill at home, you can do any workout at anytime. And, there are so many different apps that you can absolutely find a fun interval workout to do all from the comfort of your home gym.

What are some cons of the treadmill?

The treadmill is typically associated with running and this is most definitely a high-impact exercise . If you’re looking for a lower impact workout other than walking on the treadmill, I think the bike might be a better option. You can participate in HIIT workouts that will provide more of an aerobic exercise with less impact than running on the treadmill. Let’s talk about the bike!

Treadmill vs Bike for weight loss

Why is the exercise bike better than the treadmill?

You can get an insanely great workout on the bike. Ask anyone who participates in an indoor cycling class and they will tell you all about the intense workout that comes from those classes. There is a reason a spin class like SoulCycle and Cyclebar are so popular! If people weren’t getting results, they would not be paying memberships for those classes!

Also, I bet at LEAST one person you know owns a Peloton bike, right? Again, there is a reason the Peloton is so popular. People are seeing results by using this cardio machine in their workout program.

The bike is very little impact to your joints. I’ve had 3 knee surgery’s and after each one the PT let me use a stationary bike in some form before I could step foot on a treadmill.

The bike also can be amazing for sculpting your lower body muscles like your butt and your leg muscles. You just have to make sure you are increasing your resistance levels, or are standing.

A bike workout is typically not a weight-bearing workout, but if you stand and mimic cycling uphill, then it absolutely can be!

A great bike workout I did this week:

  • Cycle for 2min at easy resistance (make sure your hips are rooted into the seat and your butt’s not bouncing everywhere)
  • Turn the resistance up to where your legs feel like you a pedaling through mud. Do this for 30 seconds.
  • Easy cycle for 30 seconds
  • Then turn your resistance way up and stand. Stand and cycle for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 10x.

I promise you will be dripping with sweat at the end of this one.

Investing in a spin bike or recumbent bike for home also allows you to workout in the comfort of your home and anytime day or night. It is hard to have an excuse not to workout when you have all the equipment at home aka a home gym!

Is a treadmill or exercise bike better for losing belly fat?

I am going to give the edge to the treadmill. I promise if you do any running workout you will feel your obliques working. Also when walking on a steep incline, you do have to brace your midsection to power your legs up the hill.

And, you are torching calories so quickly on the treadmill, that it is pretty easy to put your body in a caloric deficit which of course then helps your body to lean out.. and, if you gather extra fluff around your mid-section, this will def help to lose that.

With that being said, the bike can be a great way for losing belly fat. You just have to make sure you are riding with correct form.

Push your hips down in the seat, and the best way to do this correctly is to engage your core muscles.

If you are exercising for 45 minutes, and you are engaging your core the entire time, than yes, your core muscles will be working! You might not burn belly fat as fast as the treadmill, but it will happen. Again, a caloric deficit is what you are looking for and for me, that usually happens quicker on a treadmill, but if you enjoy the bike better, then go for that!

Is bike or treadmill better for losing belly fat

Which is better for weight loss the treadmill or bike?

Friends that is going to be one of those things that is a personal preferences.  Personally, I lean toward the treadmill. As a running coach and and before that I taught Les mills RPM (spin class) for 5 years. I can tell you, I’ve seen results from participants who have ran on the treadmill or assault runner as well as those who have come back consistently to spin class. Truly, this is a personal preference. If you find that you love the treadmill, and can be consistent and workout on the treadmill about 4-5 days a week, that is going to be a better choice for you. I have a friend who absolutely hates running, but she hates the bike even more. Anytime there is a workout with the bike, she will run on the treadmill. So for her, the treadmill would be better!

The key to success for weight loss is a calorie burn that is higher than the amount of calories you eat everyday. So, this is not going to be something many like to hear, but, if the number of calories you eat is more than the calories you burn in your fitness routine, you will not lose weight and the treadmill vs bike debate is irrelevant.

Bike vs Treadmill: Which is better for your knees?

Ahh, this is one of the most common questions when debating a treadmill vs a bike.  I could say I am an expert on this answer as someone who has had three knee surgeries.

I can’t imagine not using the treadmill, but I love to run. However, after all three of my knee surgeries it was about 6 months on the bike and elliptical trainer before I could hit the treadmill. I could walk on the treadmill with no incline, but running was off limits.  I do think the treadmill has some major benefits. If you experience knee pain when running outside on the concrete or pavement, then I would recommend training a day or two a week on a treadmill. I would also check your form and make sure you are not a heel striker.  Yes, even running does have form that can truly help prevent injuries…ah, but that’s a post for another day!

The bike will absolutely be better for you as far as the impact on your joints. You are able to get a fabulous workout on a spin bike and burn loads of calories all while protecting your knees from pounding and joint pain. ????

So the clear winner here for low-impact exercise that is not going to cause discomfort or pain to your knees would be the bike.

Bike vs Treadmill for knees

Treadmill vs Bike which is better for your glutes?

Another one that is going to come down to your personal preference.  Ha!  Now, the bike is obviously known for recruiting the muscles of your legs and lower body, including your butt.  Especially if you are taking a spin class or any cycle workout that involves standing and turning up the resistance.  1000% absolutely you are going to be shaping and sculpting your glutes if you do this type of workout religiously.

FAQs: Treadmill vs Bike which is better?

That totally depends what your goals are.  They both have amazing benefits and both of them can be beneficial.  They both burn calories, can improve your fitness and you can buy them for your home gym.  The bike is lower impact, but the treadmill does provide a weight-bearing workout.

Is the treadmill or bike better for losing belly fat?

This is going to be all about a caloric deficit.  Meaning whichever machine you choose, you must be making sure that you are providing enough output vs the amount of calories you are consuming.  If this is your goal, it’d be best to choose an exercise machine you enjoy the best, and make sure your workouts are challenging enough to burn those calories.

As you probably have discovered, it truly is a personal preference the bike vs the treadmill.  Both do have some amazing benefits; my suggestion is to choose the one you feel you will use the most!  This post was all about the treadmill vs the exercise bike as well as some cardio exercises and benefits of each one. 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Best cardio for legs: 3 workouts all women over 40 must try this week

The best glute machines and exercises to tone and sculpt your buttocks

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