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Which Gives You A Better Workout? Cross Trainer Or Exercise Bike?

Published by Kirsten Carter
Last Updated on March 25, 2021

Cross Trainers VS Exercise Bikes - Which Is Best?

When deciding on what home gym equipment you should buy or use, you might find yourself stuck between the decision of going for a cross trainer or an exercise bike.

Both of these exercise machines are very beneficial to people who are looking for a low-impact form of cardio because unlike treadmills, they are much easier on your joints.

In terms of which machine gives a better workout, this depends on your goals and what you are trying to achieve. A cross trainer however is argued to give a more intense workout as it works your full body, not just your lower body and also can burn up to 15% more calories than an exercise bike.

So as you can decide which exercise machine is the best for you and your workouts, we have compared the two of them below and discussed which one might give a better workout for you.

What Is a Cross Trainer?

Before we can get comparing between an exercise bike and a cross trainer, let's understand what they are and how they work.

A cross trainer is also known as an elliptical and operates as a bike would with a circular motion as you pedal forward, but without the seat. This machine has handlebars that you push for an arm workout and allows you to burn calories and build up endurance as many come with variable incline and resistance settings.

Cross trainers are popular with people who dislike high impact exercise on their joints.

What Is an Exercise Bike?

An exercise bike on the other hand allows you to sit and pedal like a real-life bike, except it is stationary, these bikes also have different resistance options so as you can have full control over the intensity of your workout.

These machines are good at providing a low impact lower body workout but come in a few different types.

  • Recumbent - A recumbent exercise bike is designed for you to lay back on a seat and pedal, making it more of a relaxed exercise than a stationary bike.
  • Spin - Spin bikes are very similar to upright stationary bikes except use a different resistance from the weighted flywheel which makes them harder to pedal on, this is why you hear spin bike classes are often very challenging.
  • Upright stationery - Upright stationary bikes are the most popular on the market and use electromagnetic resistance to power the bike, most of these machines come with resistance programmes to choose from as you pedal on the machine.

Benefits Of Cross Trainers

Cross trainers are widely popular in home gyms and commercial gyms due to the large range of benefits that they come with.

We have listed some of these benefits out below.

  • They work your whole body - One of the best advantages to a cross-trainer over other exercise machines is that they give a workout to your whole body, upper and lower, allowing you to tone up on your arms, as well as your legs and glutes.
  • Low impact - Cross trainers are designed to be very low impact and don't stress out your joints as you workout unlike a treadmill, this is due to the way you pedal on the machine.
  • Helps with weight loss - A cross trainer can help your burn up to 230 calories on average in 30 minutes when used at low intensity (variable), this can help aid in weight loss if you combine it with a calorie deficit.
  • Great for beginners - Cross-training is not too intense and the perfect machine to use as a beginner who is looking to get fit.
  • Low chance of injury - Unlike a treadmill and other machines, the chances of you injuring yourself on a cross-trainer is very slim as you can't fall off the machine.
  • Total control - A cross trainer gives you variable resistance, and on some, even variable incline, allowing you to have complete control over how intense or hard you want your workout to be.

Drawbacks Of Cross Trainers

  • Not the best for gaining muscle - Even though a cross-trainer can tone muscle, it is not as weight bearing as other exercises, meaning you might struggle to gain muscle on this machine.
  • Other machines may burn more calories - For the best calorie burn, you might want to opt for a treadmill instead, but the difference in calorie burn is only by a little.

Benefits Of Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes also have some great advantages to consider if you are after a low impact exercise machine to workout on.

  • Helps cut body fat - Just like a cross trainer, exercise bikes can assist in cutting body fat and help you lose weight when combined with a healthy diet.
  • Easy on the joints - Exercise bikes are good for the joints and they don't put extra stress on them like a treadmill, recumbent bikes in particular are great if you have back issues too.
  • Best for the lower body - If you are looking to strengthen or tone your lower body then an exercise bike is the answer due to the focus and resistance on your legs from the bike.
  • Can keep consistency with training - For people who cycle outside often, exercise bikes can allow you to keep going with your training and practice inside during different seasons.
  • Easy to use - Compared to other exercise machines, exercise bikes are pretty simple to use, as you simply pedal, no natural movements involved.

Drawbacks Of Exercise Bikes

  • Low-calorie burn - Compared to a cross trainer and treadmill, exercise bikes have a significantly lower calorie burn.
  • Can be stressful on the hips - Depending on the type of bike you choose, cycling on these machines can cause unwanted stress on your hips after prolonged use.

Cross Trainers Or Exercise Bikes For a Better Workout?

Now we have looked at the pros and cons of each exercise machine and how they work, lets compare there differences and similarities so as we can see which type of workout can be more effective for your health and body.

Similarities Between Cross Trainers & Exercise Bikes

Cross trainer and exercise bikes are both great choices for getting cardio in and improving your overall fitness level as well as building endurance. They are additionally both low impact and kind on your joints in comparison to running and fairly easy to use if you are a beginner to fitness.

Difference Between Cross Trainers & Exercise Bikes

The differences between cross trainers and exercise bikes is that cross trainers are effective for a full-body workout and exercise bikes are only good for the lower body. You can also pedal backwards on a cross-trainer to tone your glutes and the overall machine tends to be more demanding than an exercise bike as you have to maintain a balance.

People who have back issues or the elderly might be more suited to an exercise bike than a cross-trainer because of the core work and posture required on the machine.

Which One Is Better?

There is no complete answer as to which machine provides a better workout because this depends on your goals and aims for the workout you want to have on the machine. We have categorised general aims for working out below so as you can see which type of exercise could be more effective for your personal goals.

Fitness

Both an exercise bike and cross trainer can improve your fitness and lower the chance of cardiovascular diseases, cross-trainers tend to be a little bit more demanding, so may be better for building fitness. But, saying this, you can always raise the resistance on an exercise bike to provide a more demanding workout.

You should ideally be exercising on these machines for 30 minutes each day to see a difference in your body.

Losing Weight

A cross trainer is said to help your burn up to 15% more calories than an exercise bike which means it might be the best option if you want to lose weight. However, there is not a huge difference between the two in terms of calorific burn and you can achieve an even greater burn on your bike if you stand up in the saddle for example.

Muscle Toning

For the goal of muscle toning, go for a cross-trainer as this will be the more effective option as it uses 80% of your muscles, unlike an exercise bike. To make a cross-trainer more effective in toning your arm muscles too, you should raise the resistance.

If you want to just focus on muscle toning your glutes and thighs then you could opt for an exercise bike also, but you won't have any toning on your upper body like a cross-trainer.

Conclusion

Overall, we can confidently say that both exercise machines can give you an effective workout, whether you are looking to lose weight, tone up or just build up a good fitness regime. Which one you choose comes down to personal preference and the intensity of the workout you desire.

How Do I Lose Weight With An Exercise Bike Or Cross Trainer?

Losing weight on an exercise bike or a cross trainer is simple, but there are some tips and tricks you can implement to speed up the process and help you have a greater fat burn.

We have listed our top tips out below.

  • Clean up your diet - Exercise on your cross trainer or exercise bike will not be the only factor that you need to consider when losing weight, you should also try and clean up your diet and find out how many calories you need to be cutting back on from your maintenance to lose weight.
  • Add in intervals - Adding in high-intensity periods where you speed up or pedal faster on your machine can help you lose more weight as you will be burning more calories.
  • Up the resistance - To help with fat loss try upping the resistance on your machine to make it more intense, this will also be a good way to track your progress and see how to fit you are getting when resistance levels start to become easier.
  • Be consistent - Don't give up, stick to your workout routine and allow time to see results in your body, you should be aiming to do at least 150 minutes of exercise on your machine per week.

Can You Get a 2 In 1 Cross Trainer & Exercise Bike?

If you really can't decide between buying a cross trainer or an exercise bike then why not consider a 2 in 1 model that can give you the best of both worlds (yes, they exist).

These pieces of exercise equipment come with a saddle and allow you to use the machine as a cross-trainer upright with handlebars and as an exercise bike too due to the seat and pedals, allowing you to have a low-impact cardio session for your lower body and even your arms when using the cross trainer part of the machine.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cross Trainers & Exercise Bikes

How much does an exercise bike cost in comparison to a cross-trainer? 

This depends on the model, brand and type of exercise bike you buy, but they typically start at a base price of around £250, cross trainers on the other hand tend to cost a little bit more in a range of £300-£500.

Which is harder to use, a cross trainer or an exercise bike?

Cross trainers are said to be a little harder to use as they engage your full body rather than just your lower half, allowing you to have more intense work.

Are exercise bikes good for beginners? 

Yes, exercise bikes are a great option if you are looking to get back into fitness as they offer a low impact way of exercising with great control over the resistance, meaning you can start low as a beginner then work your way up to higher resistance.

Why is a treadmill high impact on joints? 

A treadmill is a higher impact on joints as you are running and your legs are not supported, on the flat deck of a treadmill this can become quite taxing with serious implications over time.

Last Words

To conclude, a cross trainer and exercise bike can both give an effective workout and help you get fit, lose weight or tone up depending on your goal. Which one you choose comes down to if you want to work your lower body only or work your upper body, as a cross-trainer will give you a more intense full-body workout with both options.

About the author
Published by Kirsten Carter
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