Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness by the Fire: Treadmill vs. Elliptical Crosstrainer vs. Recumbant Bike and which is best for weight loss and health

by Ron Kennedy • February 28, 2018
Cardiovascualr conditioning is a crucial part of any fitness program, especailly one focused on weightloss. Be it in the gym, outdoors, or within the comforts of your home, pushing the heart rate to elevated levels is must to not only burn fat, but prevent life threating conditions associated with cardiovascular disease. Some exercises are more powerful than others to reach to challenge the heart. Swimming (for example) is the most effective form of cardio since not only are you weightless which allows the body to move quickly without the constraints of gravity, but you also engage almost every muscle in the body to achieve motion.

Most fitness enthusiasts that keep a consistent cardio schedule (myself included) implement cardiovascular conditioning along with our strength training routines at the gym. That said, typically most gyms or fitness centers have the same three standard machines to achieve the required training; The treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical cross trainer.
When starting a gym-based fitness program with a new client, we are often asked which of the three is the “best” or most effective. Personal preference is certainly a factor(I would rather run on ice that mundanely pedal away on a recumbent bike), but depending on your levels of fitness and any injuries or limitations you might be dealing with, the machines mentioned above will have different effects.

Here is a summary comparison of elliptical trainer vs. treadmill vs. exercise bike training options to show the physiological benefits of each. This information presents an effective way to decide which is best for your individual needs, and help you get started on the right path to fitness.

Treadmills - Maximum opportunity to increase cardiovascular, weight loss and bone density. • Burn more calories than bike or elliptical • Build maximum lower extremity bone density • Customize workout with Decline / Incline features • Minimal impact with SOFT deck technology

Elliptical Trainers - The benefits of weight-bearing exercise without the impact.

 Low impact workout that's easy on body and joints. Arm handles allow for a full body workout. Lower perceived rate of exertion. Burn fewer calories per hour than a treadmill.

Exercise Bikes - Low impact. High performance.  Low-No impact workout easiest on body and joints. Available in upright and recumbent, for virtually every performance level.  Most economically priced piece of equipment.  Lowest calorie burn / hour compared with a treadmill and elliptical


This popular form of weight-bearing exercise offers you the best opportunity to build bone density in the lower extremities and greatly improve overall muscle tone. Unsurpassed for a cardiovascular and fat-burning workout, the treadmill can help you to burn 50 to 250 more calories an hour versus a stationary bike or an elliptical machine.

While running and walking generally create more impact on your bones and joints than exercise bikes or elliptical machines, most high-end treadmills are constructed with surfaces that help to absorb impact and pounding. This provides a big advantage over outdoor workouts on asphalt or concrete.

Most treadmills also include electronic features and settings that allow you to customize your workouts to meet your specific fitness needs. Almost all models include speed and incline settings and can be programmed for individual calorie-burning, speed and mileage goals.

Besides offering all the benefits of an outdoor walk or run (without the hassles of obstacles or the environment) in the comfort of your own home, the treadmill has proven to be the clear training choice for achieving maximum fitness results in the shortest amount of time.


Part treadmill, part Stairmaster, and mimicking the pedal movement of an exercise bike, the elliptical trainer offers a unique combination of fitness benefits, without the impact on knees, back, hips or joints. This weight-bearing exercise allows you to burn calories more efficiently than non-weight-bearing workouts, plus effectively builds bone density.

More than just a lower-body exercise, arm handles combine with leg motion to provide a total body workout. In addition, the elliptical helps to create a lower "perceived rate of exertion" - you do more work and burn more calories while feeling like you're producing less effort.

This cross-training-style machine can also typically be programmed through electronic settings to meet your specific goals of calorie burning, speed and distance. One other unique advantage is that the elliptical can also be "pedaled" backwards in addition to forward, to effectively work a full range of leg muscles.

The elliptical has proven popular with those who are looking to receive the benefits of a full-body, weight-bearing workout, without the stress and pounding.

Exercise Bikes:

Although they have been in existence for years, exercise bikes have returned to the forefront of the workout scene. This is due in large part to advances in technology, improved designs and the immensely popular "spinning" programs that allow participants to simulate outdoor cycling in the comfort of their own homes or a group classroom setting.

Unlike other forms of "weight-bearing" exercise (such as running or walking), exercise bikes offer participants an opportunity to increase their heart rates without substantial stress on knees, ankles, feet or hips. In addition, built-in resistance features allow you to tailor your workout to your specific goals, by simulating hills, flat ground and rolling terrain. Many models even offer electronic features, which allow you to program the bike for a specific goal or workout. This is very helpful for achieving effective, measurable results.

Generally available in recumbent or upright designs, stationary bikes are designed for practically every level of performance and body design, whether you're an experienced cyclist dedicated to improving your peddle stroke or a weekend warrior simply looking to break a sweat.