Elliptical vs. Stationary Bike: 2 Great Workout Options

The elliptical machine and stationary bike are both longstanding powerhouses as gym workout equipment, with the latter more commonly used for a homebound alternative.

Each has its own upsides in terms of muscles worked and training intensity, so if you are trying to decide which one to use at the gym or bring home, these are the factors to consider:


This is the taller machine, with pedals for your feet that lift you off the ground and bars you can hold onto with your hands for movements that work both your upper and lower body.

  • Provides a full-body, low-impact workout that’s great for everyone, especially beginners and those coming back from an injury.
  • The standing position forces your heart to work harder and provides bone-strengthening load-bearing exercise.
  • Allows users to reverse their stride to train on a different plane of motion.
  • Starts out slow before you build momentum, so it’s an ideal warm-up choice.


The name is more self-explanatory here, as it looks like a bicycle that’s designed to be ridden inside. There are three broad categories of stationary bike: upright, which has the most similar posture to a road bike; recumbent, in which the rider sits behind the pedals and lower to the ground; and dual-action, which is similar to an elliptical by having handlebars that move back and forth.

  • Mimics movement of stationary bike, so it’s a great option if it’s too cold to bike outside
    or if you don’t want to ride on the streets.
  • Requires less balance and coordination than an elliptical, making it also a great choice for beginners.
  • Better suited for high-intensity and interval training for more experienced athletes.
  • It’s an awesome lower-body workout, and you can easily bring your upper body along for the ride by getting out of the saddle or using weights.

Both pieces of equipment can easily be adjusted to provide more resistance
as you build up more strength; higher-end models can connect you with online training classes and other activities.