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Treadmill vs Bike: What is Best for You?

It’s a treadmill vs. bike debate today. Which is the better choice for you? This post will help you decide by comparing the treadmill to the spin bike. There are many factors to consider when trying to decide which one of these machines is right for you. 

Determining the winner of this debate really depends on your preferred form of exercise, your fitness goals, your budget, and your workout space.

Each of these things make a big difference in deciding which to purchase.

Treadmill vs Bike: What is Best for You?

This exercise equipment purchase is a big investment no matter what your decision, so it’s not a decision that should be made without research.  Let’s make sure that your home gym is just what you want by making sure you know the best option for you.

Treadmill vs Exercise Bike

There are many similarities between a treadmill and a bike.

Similarities:

The Treadmill

Advantages of the Treadmill

There are some great advantages to a treadmill, let’s chat a little bit about those here:

  • Treadmill is a body weight-bearing exercise. This means that working out on a treadmill will help build your bone density, while also strengthening your muscles. These benefits help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. 
  • A treadmill workout is great for your cardiovascular system
  • The treadmill offers a great whole body workout
  • The treadmill offers a great workout for your leg muscles and other lower body muscles (glutes, hamstrings, etc.)
  • Peloton’s Tread has an extensive library of workouts that are included with their treadmill, including structured walking and running workouts to keep motivation high.
basic treadmill

Disadvantages of the Treadmill

Treadmills are great, but there are some things about them that aren’t ideal:

  • Treadmills take up a lot of space.
  • Treadmills are costly. A good quality, higher end treadmill will easily cost several thousands of dollars.
  • They tend to be loud. Treadmills aren’t the quietest of exercise machines. If this is something that would bother you, it’s good to take note of it. 
  • Without having a structured treadmill workout plan, workout could be difficult to stick with.

The Exercise / Spin Bike

An exercise bike is also commonly called a recumbent bike and could be a spin or spinning bike depending on the choice of bike.

A spin bike is has a higher cardio and workout level as opposed to a recumbent bike which is often a steady cardio type of exercise.  

Advantages of the Exercise Bike

Anyone who has ever enjoyed riding a bike could be a good candidate for a stationary bike.

  • Interval training and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are popular bike workouts (especially a spin bike such as the Peloton).
  • Peloton Spin bike has a variety of spinning workouts to choose from – beginners, scenic with real video footage of actual bike rides, music themed, etc – all with coaches/trainers talking you through to keep your motivation peaked.
  • Spin bikes can be a higher cardio workout than treadmill workouts if you are unable to run due to back or joint pain.
  • If you like to read while you work out, a recumbent bike is a great way to exercise and catch up on your reading or watch a favorite binge show, making the time go by quickly and easily.
  • Bikes are often less expensive than treadmills.  
  • Bikes take up less space.
  • Bikes offer a non-weight bearing exercise, making them a great low-impact choice for those dealing with injuries, joint issues, or those who are brand new to exercise.
  • Stationary bikes can be more safe than a treadmill.
  • When using a bike to clip shoes in, hamstrings muscles can be strengthened as well as quads.
exercise bike

Disadvantages of the Recumbent Bikes

Many of these can be overcome in time and experience.

  • A sore butt if the seat isn’t comfortable, or you are simply not used to sitting on a bike seat (You can get padded shorts like these to help).
  • Riding on an indoor bicycle that goes nowhere can get tedious.
  • It can be more difficult to maintain your THR (target heart rate) on an exercise bike. It requires motivation on the part of the rider to keep it up. (This changes with a type of spin bike with coaching workouts)

What is a Peloton Bike?

If you have any fitness enthusiasts in your life, you may have heard them talk about the peloton bike. If you are new to exercise bikes you may be wondering what it is and if that is the bike you should be buying. 

The Peloton Bike is a high-end exercise bike that comes with a large touch screen that allows the user to stream and join in on live spin class sessions.

This is a great option for those that are motivated by working out with others and the competition of trying to reach higher ranks than the other riders in the class. Even though it is a higher end bike, it is a great bike for beginners to start a fitness routine.

We have a Peloton bike at home and absolutely love it!

As a matter of fact, I love it so much that I just ordered the Peloton Tread, even though I have a great Nordictrack Treadmill that I have used for years. 

cycling bike for home gym

Treadmill vs Bike for Beginners

If your fitness level isn’t quite where you want it to be yet, or if you are new to at home fitness, you may be wondering what is best when it comes to the treadmill vs bike for beginners.

This again is another place where each exercise machine is evenly matched up. Both of these machines are very user friendly for beginners. As your fitness level increases, either machine will be ready to advance along with you.

Treadmill or Bike for Seniors?

Are you a senior citizen? Or are you shopping for exercise equipment for a senior citizen in your life?

When trying to determine whether the treadmill or bike is best for seniors, you’ll find that in this category, the bike often wins. An exercise recumbent bike offers a low impact workout with back support if needed.

Although this isn’t a hard and fast rule, the exercise bike is often the winner here for seniors who have dealt with joint issues or injuries in the past.

The ability to be in a sitting position in a chair type seat with full back support while exerting energy is beneficial for those who may struggle with their mobility.

If the senior doesn’t struggle with mobility or energy, the treadmill will be a great choice! 

Treadmill or Exercise Bike for Bad Knees: Which is better?

If you have bad knees, it’s hard to get past the fear of aggravating them to choose a workout to do. Most exercises are high impact, therefore will likely aggravate your injuries.

If you are recovering from an injury or surgery on your knees, when it comes to working out, the exercise bike is the clear winner here.

That being said, if you are past the recovery part, and you are simply dealing with trying to avoid another injury to your knees, a treadmill is also a good choice as it is beneficial to strengthening bones and building muscle. Starting with a beginner treadmill workout like this could be a good idea.

There is no impact to your knees when using an exercise bike therefore it helps to not hurt your knees further. This is why you will often see exercise bikes being used in physical therapy facilities for knee issues and recovery.  

Which is Better for Belly Fat?

Both the treadmill and exercise bike are effective for losing belly fat. They both offer a great aerobic exercise and they are both great options for weight loss for all fitness levels, no matter if you are advanced or just beginning. 

The bike, especially a bike like the peloton, is great for interval workouts which are great for burning calories, therefore losing belly fat.

When comparing a treadmill vs bike, the treadmill tends to be better for improving your cardiovascular and heart health, which means a 40% overall increase in calorie burn. The exception to that would be if the bike has resistance training equipment option like a spin bike, which will increase cardiovascular benefits to your bike workout. 

With both machines, you can add weights to increase your upper body strength as well. Treadmill workouts with dumbbells like these can increase calorie burn and results by working the upper body as well as working just the lower part of the body.

treadmill in home beside weights

Which is better for weight loss, spin bike or treadmill?

If you are working on weight loss in general, the treadmill or spin bike will be the better than a recumbent bike, although you can lose weight using either machine.

A treadmill and spin bike offers weight-bearing workouts to stand up which increases calorie burn, which is more likely to help with weight loss.

Of course, if you enjoy a high intensity spin workout on your exercise bike, you can likely burn even more calories. A high intensity workout is key to burning calories and losing weight and that can be accomplished with either machine.

It’s all about personal exercise preferences.

Why Personal Preference is the Key

For working out at home, your preference for exercise is absolutely key to deciding whether to buy a treadmill or a spin bike.

Both the treadmill or bike are great, reliable and functional cardio machines.

Both will help you reach your specific goals as it relates to your fitness and health.

If you have never spent time on either machine I would suggest doing just that before making this purchase. See if a friend has one you can use or maybe sign up for a free week trial at a gym just so you can see which one you prefer.

Keep in mind though that there are two keys to reaching your fitness goals: Consistency and intensity. If you know that you prefer one workout over another, your best bet is to get the one that you prefer.

If you are looking at an exercise machine every day with dread because you don’t enjoy it, chances are, you won’t be consistent in your workout regimen.  

Perhaps you will find that both of these popular machines would be a good fit for you.

Having a variety of types of machines that help work different muscle groups, burn calories, building muscle mass along the way, will be a well-rounded opportunity for good cardiovascular workout variety.

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