Wondering which exercise machine would best fit your needs and go well with the home gym you’re setting up? Although most stationary exercise bikes look similar, some of them have unique features and functions, each type of cycle targets a different muscle in a different way. This post conducts an in depth comparison between exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills. You will find a set of similarities among the three types of machines but also key differences that set them apart.

All three machines are great for low impact training and do not take too much space if you’re planning on using them at home. They are great for cardio that would get your heart pumping at a faster rate. With a higher pulse rate, they are a great way to warm up your body before you go lifting weights for instance. However, a treadmill may be the one for you if you’re looking for effective ways to reduce fat. As opposed to stationary cycles or a trainer, your entire body is in motion while on the treadmill.

Table of Contents


Overview of the Recumbent Bike

As mentioned above, a recumbent bike (such as the Marcy recumbent exercise bike reviewed here) allows you to warm up your body before an intense workout. The warmup lowers the risk of muscle injuries that can occur during weight lifting for instance. It offers you a choice of a wide range of resistance levels, which would allow you to pedal harder or easier according to your abilities. A harder level may be chosen before an intense workout while an easy-pedaling level can be used when you’re done lifting weights and you’re ready to relax. When comparing it to trainers and treadmills, the main feature that sets it apart is the low impact level. Thanks to this property, a majority of the athletes prefer a stationary bike for knee replacement rehab or when recovering from back injuries. As far as muscles used in recumbent bikes vs uprights ones are concerned, both machines tend to target similar muscular areas. Both allow you to sit on the cycle; however, the former puts less pressure on your back.

Recumbent Bike

Recumbent Bike Benefits

  • Protects both the hips and the back thanks to the comfortable seat
  • It doesn’t have a motor, so it quietly operates without making any noise
  • Compact and consumes less space than treadmills and trainers


  • Not as effective if you’re looking to reduce weight; a treadmill would be much beneficial in this case

Here is a video on a recumbent bike workout for beginners.

Overview of the Elliptical Trainer

This machine is another low-impact training equipment you can have at your home gym. When thinking about recumbent bike vs elliptical for knees therapy, the latter takes the points primarily thanks to its design. It is designed in a way that mimics your movements when you run without stressing your ankles or knees. Moreover, the trainer comes with handles for you to support your movements, something which allows you to train your upper body as well as your lower body at the same time. The machine focuses on your hamstrings, calf muscles and quadriceps and can also be used as a warm-up machine before working out. Thanks to a study done by Harvard Health on elliptical vs stationary bikes, it was deduced that the trainer burns around 30% more calories. Moreover, when comparing the two types, recumbent elliptical vs standing elliptical, it was noted that the former is much more convenient while working out thanks to the seat that supports your back and reduces pressure. However, improper positioning of the seat can cause stress and unwanted injuries so you need to make sure to position the chair in an optimal position for you.

Elliptical Trainer

Trainer Benefits

  • Gets you a total body workout as opposed to stationary bikes
  • Provides electronic settings to help you achieve your burning calories goals
  • Provides backwards pedalling as well


  • Low-impact, which may seem too easy to use for experienced athletes

Overview of the Treadmill

Treadmills are one of the most common and best exercise machines you can get, you read more about our favorite NordiTrack model here. Not only does this workout machine help you increase bone density, it also helps you improve muscle tone a great deal. When it comes to machines that help reduce belly fat and lose overall weight, there is nothing better than running on a treadmill. The treadmill burns up to 250 more calories per hour than a stationary cycle (whether recumbent or upright) or the trainer. The more advanced models of the machine come with electronic boards that offer customized workout routines; you can set speed and mileage goals for a week or a day. A great advantage of the treadmill is that you can enjoy the same outdoor walk or run from the comfort of your home. The treadmill may put pressure on your joints but it will strengthen your bones at the same time.


Treadmill Benefits

  • Offers a natural movement, whether you choose to walk or run
  • Allows you to set your own pace/speed
  • Gets you a full-body workout


  • Relatively more exhausting in comparison to a recumbent cycle or a trainer
  • It has a motor so it’s not as quite as the other two options

Elliptical vs Bike vs Treadmill

Recumbent Bike Elliptical Trainer Treadmill
Burning fat and calories Medium High High
Impact on joints Medium Low High
Convenience High Medium High
Muscle strengthening ability Medium Medium Low


Is the elliptical or bike better for weight loss?

The trainer burns more calories and fats by at least 20% as discussed in this post. This is mainly thanks to the fact the machine allows a full-body workout using its handles.

Does recumbent bike burn belly fat?

When it comes to elliptical or bike for belly fat, the latter does help in burning belly fat. It is a gentle way to cycle and does not put too much stress on the body.

Which is better for knees an elliptical or a bike?

When talking about stationary bike vs elliptical for knees, the latter may prove to be more effective. It is designed in a way that does not put stress on either ankles or knees, as opposed to upright cycles, treadmills or actual running.

Is recumbent bike as good as walking?

Although both are low-impact exercises, working a recumbent cycle may be easier since it provides you with back support and distributes your weight. Another option could be a rowing machine, we like the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing machine best.


Have you decided which piece of equipment is right for you? Would you like us to perform another comparison? Please share your views in the comments box below!