Treadmill vs. Stationary Exercise Bike for Cardio Training

Different people have their own regimens and solutions that they are fond of when it comes to weight management.

In addition to adopting a healthier diet, sports scientists and nutritionists also recommend that you exercise at least three times a week.

Cardio exercises are the most popular when trying to lose extra weight, and in the gym, the treadmill and the stationary bike are the most popular cardio machines.

However, few people are able to decide which method burns more calories between running on the treadmill and using a bike. Here is an assessment of both exercises and a verdict on the one that is likely to be most beneficial in your weight loss journey.

The treadmill

The treadmill is one of the most common pieces of gym equipment and when used properly, it helps the user increase their heart rate, build endurance and most importantly, burn off the extra calories.

All treadmills have features such as the incline, the different speeds and many other tweaks which are supposed to aid the exercise process. Below are the reasons behind the popularity of the treadmill.

treadmill running

A weight-bearing exercise

One of the biggest benefits that comes from running on the treadmill is the fact that you will be carrying your body weight as you exercise. According to sports scientists, this is what helps you burn more calories than when you are exercising sitting down or in other positions.

Although people with joint trouble may not like it as much, weight-bearing exercises can help build bone strength as well as muscle strength.

Treadmills are great for HIIT

HIIT is an interval training technique which involves alternating between regular and high speed when working out. HIIT workouts have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to maximize the number of calories burned during a workout session.

Many treadmills have easily programmable consoles so you can adjust the incline, speed, and time intervals to get the most from your HIIT workouts.

It’s for all fitness levels

Another great benefit which makes the treadmill better than several other exercise options at the gym is that you choose exactly how hard or easy the workout is. Those who are just beginning their weight loss journey can start with lightly inclined walks, and seasoned pros can still be pushed to their limits on all modern treadmills.

There is also the fact that the treadmill does not need a lot of skill to use. The only thing you need to get on to one is a good pair of shoes, exercise gear, and some music and you are good to go.

The shortcomings

One of the major issues that people who use the treadmill often complain about is the pain in the knees, ankles, or hips.

Due to the fact that running is a weight-bearing exercise, running on the treadmill often leads to wearing out of the joints, especially if you have bad running technique, bad shoes, or are running a lot.

QUICK TIP: Did you know you can even get special treadmills which are designed to be used under an office desk.

The stationary exercise bike

The second option available at the gym and especially for people who want to improve their cardio ability is the stationary bike. Like the treadmill, there are settings which allow you to adjust the speed and the resistance when using the bike so that you can gain maximum calorie expenditure when exercising. The bike is great because it also gets your heart rate up and helps you lose those extra pounds.

Stationary exercise bike

Increased cardio-respiratory capacity

One of the main benefits which come from the stationary bike is that it is good for your heart and when you exercise regularly, you increase your endurance.

What’s more, you can get the same cardio benefots than from a treadmill, without risking the health of your joints.

Strengthen legs and core

Cycling is an excellent way to strengthen your leg muscles and all the muscles which support cycling such as the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and the abdominal muscles.

However, this does not mean that the bike will make you bulk up. The bike is not adapted to muscle building and will not have that effect on your body. So if you are looking to keep trim and toned, the biking may be the option for you.

The shortcomings

First is the fact that since riding the stationary bike is not a weight-bearing exercise, you will not lose as many calories on the bike as you will on the treadmill. This means that it will take you longer to achieve the same weight loss goals as the person using the treadmill if all other factors are held constant.

Another issue that some people encounter is that a stationary bike is just not as comfortable as a treadmill. If you a bigger or smaller then average, a bike may not be as accommodating as a treadmill, which is made for everyone.


It is difficult to pick one of the two exercise equipment and claim that it is the best for weight loss. This is because each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages and it also depends on the weight loss goals and fitness goals that you are looking forward to achieving.

The most objective advice you can get here is that if you are visiting the gym for exercise, it would be best to try both of them, or use them interchangeably because each will have a different impact on your body and a combination of both gives the best results.


  1. Abrantes C. et al. Physiological responses to treadmill and cycle exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2012 Jan;33(1):26-30.
  2. Stephen H. Boutcher. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. J Obes. 2011; 2011: 868305.
  3. Young Joo Kim et al. Exaggerated Response of Systolic Blood Pressure to Cycle Ergometer. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine 37(3):364-72, June 2013

This article has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Marija Petkovic.

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Nick Joanes
Nick Joanes

After suffering from many injuries and pains throughout the years, Nick started Painless Movement with the hope of helping others discover ways to live healthier, happier, and pain-free lives. Although not a doctor or physiotherapist, Nick uses personal trial and error and anecdotal experiences to learn about the body and hopefully provide useful information for others who suffer from similar health issues.

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