Exercise Bikes vs Treadmills - The BIG Debate

This is a question that we get asked all the time at the Home Biker. Which is the better exercise - the exercise bike or the treadmill? We thought we should take some time out and answer this question in a bit of detail. Anyone who uses either of these, as their chosen method of keeping fit, is already making a healthier lifestyle choice. the fact they are working out at home, is in my opinion simply great.

The two bits of equipment​ being discussed will both help users achieve a very good level of fitness. It would be natural for a website called The Home Biker, to have a strong opinion on which is best. However we respect the users of both. A treadmill offers a similar experience to either running or walking. The home exercise bike on the other hand, generates a cycling experience.

What do Exercise Bikes & Treadmills Have In Common?​

Both pieces of equipment clearly work the legs and the leg muscles. They also both work the cardio-vascular system. In simpler terms they get the heart rate working, improve the lungs and breathing and they also increase stamina. the levels to which each piece of equipment does that, depends on how hard the actual user wants to work.

If done properly both can quickly work up a sweat, burn off calories and also burn off fat. I think you will agree that they do have a lot in common.​

The Indoor Exercise Bike

exercise bike with phone holder

The Treadmill


​Where do Exercise Bikes & Treadmills Differ?​

The main difference is in the level of impact. Exercise bikes are consider to be low level impact. That means they are easier on the joints. Those joints in the main are the knees and ankles. They are also easier on the overall muscles of the legs. As you are pedalling, the effort taken to do that is from the actual muscles in the legs.​ When jogging or even walking on a treadmill, you are working the leg muscles, but due to the hard nature of the treadmill running board, your joints are paying the price.

Knowing Your Leg Muscles

The muscles include the thighs, hips, calves and more. The anterior muscles work as a group of muscles that help flex the thigh at the hip, and extend the leg at the knee. Muscles known as the posterior muscles, which include the hamstrings, do the opposite and help extend the thigh at the hip and flexion of the leg at the knee. The calf muscles join the Achilles tendon of the heel, and shin muscles join smaller muscles in the foot and the toes.

 When using a treadmill, all of these muscles, and more importantly the joints, have a high impact. That is because the entire weight of the body is raising and falling on all of these muscle groups and the joints. With an exercise bike that is not the case. Although these muscles are being worked, they are not being impacted by the weight of the body, caused by either walking or running.

The video below is one person's opinion​ of which is best.

Which Is Better - Treadmill or Exercise Bike?

It really depends on why you are exercising. If for example, your main aim was to lose weight​, then your exercise should be about burning as many calories as you can. In that case a treadmill would easily win this competition. Look at it simply. With a treadmill you are on your feet, either walking or running. On a bike, you are in most cases, sitting on your bottom. Now both pieces of exercise equipment will help you burn calories. Like for like though the treadmill will do it faster and better.

​Of course, it depends on how much effort, you put into both tasks. If you put a lot of effort into your bike ride, it will also work really well for you.

Recovering from Injury​

​Now, if you are trying to recover from some type of injury, then a bike is perfect. The last thing you want to do is get on a treadmill. You do not want to risk damaging any type of injury or joint and make things worse. A good recumbent exercise bike is by far the best option. That allows you to build up your cardio, fitness level and strength. Most importantly it allows you to do that, without risking your joints or your back and neck. Here is another video, which I think gives a more rounded opinion, on whether the treadmill or the exercise bike is better.

For cardio work, and for general fitness it is good that you are doing something. Walking or running is a great form of exercise, assuming you are fit and able to do that. If that is just too much, then cycling is a very good alternative. Ideally all of this should be done outdoors. However if you want to do this in the privacy of your own home, then I would apply the same rules.

If you are able to walk and run, and not worried about joint damage, then a treadmill is more effective. If on the other hand, you are recovering from injury, prefer cycling then hop on to your bike. Either way keep up the good work.​

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