Elliptical Vs. Treadmill Vs. Stationary Bike


Many people who enter a gym are often torn between the three most popular cardio machines: the treadmill, the elliptical and the stationary bike. All three of these machines have something to offer the user, but only one may be right for you or you may want to vary your workout by using a different one each day. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each machine to decide which one suits your lifestyle best.

Elliptical Pros

The elliptical machine offers a high-intensity, full-body workout when you combine the foot pedals and handle bars. The elliptical machine is smooth as it glides your body through a simulated jogging or running motion. Using an elliptical machine provides a low-impact workout that can be easier on your joints than running. The elliptical offers a great cardio workout to anyone with lower-body injuries or who wants more cardio variety in her regimen.

Treadmill Pros

Depending on the setting, a treadmill can simulate walking, jogging, running or hiking. The different variables, speed and incline, that can be set on a treadmill and the workout programs installed on some machines allow you to add plenty of variety to your workouts. Also, treadmills are a great way to go for a walk or jog when the weather outside is not conducive to outdoor exercise.

Stationary Bike Pros

The stationary bike is a low-impact cardio machine that is offered in upright and recumbent styles. The settings are user-friendly and allow you to adjust the distance, time or resistance or you can use a program that simulates riding on the road. Stationary bikes are recommended for beginners or those with lower-body injuries. It requires less overall body exertion than a treadmill or elliptical trainer, and allows for longer workout sessions.

Cons of Each Machine

Each of these cardio machines has drawbacks. The treadmill burns plenty of calories, but it is high impact and can strain bones and joints. The elliptical trainer is low impact, but the motion may be awkward for beginners. Unless you're working vigorously, the stationary bike burns fewer calories than the previous two machines, but builds endurance and stamina through longer cardio sessions.


All three of these cardio machines will burn calories and exercise your heart and lungs. The treadmill gives a great full-body workout, but the elliptical and bike are low impact, which is beneficial for those prone to joint pain or knee injuries. If possible, include all three into your cardio routine to reap the benefits of each machine, to prevent overuse injuries and to keep from getting bored with your workout.