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Treadmill or Exercise Bike for Belly Fat: Which One is Better?

Running and cycling are two of the best forms of cardio. These are the go-to exercises for anyone from beginners to professional athletes. And when you can’t go outside due to bad weather then you can just hit the treadmill or exercise bike at the gym or home. A large portion of the people using these machines does so to get rid of that annoying fat around the gut. However, if you could pick just one of these machines, which one should you choose? There are many factors to consider and each machine offers different benefits. Read through the article to determine which is right for you.

Major differences between treadmills and exercise bikes

The difference between treadmills and exercise bikes ultimately boils down to the differences between running or walking and cycling. Both machines provide benefits in terms of cardiovascular health and both can be used by almost anyone due to the various levels of speed and difficulty that can be set. However, there are some key differences between the two forms of exercise. Let us go through the advantages and disadvantages of using each machine.

Major differences between treadmills and exercise bikes

Getting rid of belly fat

When it comes to losing fat, the most effective way is to control your diet. Too many starchy carbs, sugary drinks, and greasy foods are all major sources of unhealthy fats. Instead of these you should eat more fruits, vegetables, lean meat, etc. However, to achieve a truly healthy lifestyle, some form of exercise should also be incorporated into your daily life. Running and cycling are two of the best and most popular forms of exercise that anyone can get started with.

There is a common misconception that doing ab workouts will target and reduce belly fat. According to the American Council on Exercise and many studies carried out, spot reduction of fat is a myth. To effectively lose belly fat (or just fat in general) you need to work out your entire body. This is where treadmills or exercise bikes come in since they target large muscle groups.

At the end of the day, you have to have more calories used than you have consumed to reduce fat. Running lets you consume 25% more calories than cycling with the same intensity of the workout. However, cycling is gentler and you can stay on the bike longer. This can make up for the deficit in the amount of calories burned given that you have enough time.

Treadmills vs Exercise Bikes

Which of these machines is the right one for you is largely dependent on your preference, goals, and your body’s requirements. Some of these factors are discussed below.

Personal goals

Whether to use an exercise bike or a treadmill depends on why you are choosing to workout in the first place. These are the main motivations for people to exercise:-

  • Cardiovascular health: Cycling and running are both cardio exercises, therefore both are pretty much equally beneficial. Aerobic exercises strengthen your heart and help to improve the circulation of oxygen. This also teaches your body to pump blood efficiently during rest.
  • Building muscle: While neither machine lets you build up your upper body, cycling, in particular, can help you build lower body strength. The resistance of an exercise bike can be increased to achieve this. You will be pedaling slower, but you will also be pushing all your leg muscles harder. This lets you build muscle mass.
  • Losing weight: The key to losing weight is to use up as many calories as possible. Running on a treadmill results in a higher amount of calories burned in a shorter span of time. By increasing the speed and incline at which you run, fat loss is enhanced even more. Although, it is possible to cycle for a lot longer, unlike running. Hence, you can burn the same amount of calories (or even more) with an exercise bike. However, not everyone has the time and so might prefer a short and intense run.

Man on an Exercise Bike

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Man on a Treadmill

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Safety and injury rate

Treadmills generally pose a higher risk of injury than exercise bikes. This is due to the fact that the risk of injuring your low back, knees, ankles, or hips is higher for running. If your step comes down slightly awkwardly, your ankle might get sprained and you will be out of action for weeks or possibly months. Not to mention that you could accidentally fall off the treadmill mid-run. The worst that could happen from an exercise bike is back or shoulder pain from being hunched over for too long. Other issues, like butt pain from sitting too long, can be solved by buying a better seat.

Another thing to consider is the impact level of the exercise. Running is a high impact exercise, meaning it is more strenuous for the joints. Cycling on the other hand is a low impact, which is why it can be performed for longer. For people with chronic pain or joint issues, exercise bikes would be recommended. Still, you should consult with a doctor before making a decision.

Progression and variability

It is very important to switch up your routine from time to time for continual improvement. Doing the same workout all the time results in your body getting accustomed to it and eventually, you won’t see improvement anymore. With the bike, you can turn a knob to increase the resistance or try pedaling faster. For the treadmill, you can increase speed as well, but also set a higher incline angle to simulate running uphill. So both machines offer the same degree of variability to maintain the constant progression. Using different workout plans or incorporating time interval training is also a good idea.

Progression and variability for treadmills

Progression and variability for exercise bike

The durability of the machine

Treadmills are more likely to have something go wrong with them. The belt, motor, or the incline feature may break down due to the continuous impacts that it has to go through. Exercise bikes rarely have any problems and require less servicing. This must also be taken into account because it affects the overall cost of the machines.

Ease of use

Both running and cycling are easy for most people since they have learned these movements at a very young age. Even though outdoor cycling requires some skill, indoor cycling is far simpler. In fact, running on a treadmill can be trickier and the moving conveyor takes some getting used to. There is no learning curve for an exercise bike as you can simply hop on and get started.

Floor space and storage

Although a treadmill takes up a larger area on the floor, the flat shape and foldability of most treadmills allow for more convenient storage under beds or in closets. Some exercise bikes are foldable but most are not and their unusual shape makes storage difficult. Nonetheless, if you have a smaller space to workout in, an exercise bike will be the better option.

Some things to consider before buying an exercise machine

Now that you know which machine is right for you, congratulations! You can go ahead and buy one. But before that, there are some aspects to consider that are common to both treadmills and exercise bikes. The topics discussed below are for both types of machines.

Price

There is an extremely wide price range when it comes to these products. Machines can cost anywhere from $200 to upwards of $2000. As the price increases, you will find that the machines have more and more features added to them. The quality of the machine will also differ. If you are a beginner or if you can’t afford high-end products, then there is no need to worry too much. A cheap machine will still serve you quite well. What matters here is that you have decided to take fitness into your own hands and money should not get in the way.

Size and weight capacity

Most treadmills and exercise bikes can handle far more than the average person’s weight. For people who are morbidly obese, it is still a good idea to check the weight capacity just in case. The dimensions are also something you might want to consider. The length and width of these machines do vary a little and individuals may have certain requirements or preferences.

Additional features

A myriad of features can be found nowadays on these machines. Most machines have a screen for displaying various stats and a panel for controlling the features. A lot of these are smart features such as pulse sensors, calorie counter, time, speed and distance tracker, etc. Some also have built-in programs to let you customize your workout. Other features include bottle holders, Bluetooth, speakers, and even a fan for cooling. All these traits will enhance your training experience but come at higher prices.

Additional features of exercise machines

Safety mechanisms

Safety is always a top priority for many. The most important safety feature to look for in exercise bikes is how much the flywheel and other moving parts are enclosed. For treadmills, it is vital that there is some sort of emergency stop system. This is usually in the form of a key attached to the body that stops the belt when it disconnects.

Safety mechanisms of an exercise machine

F. A. Q.s

1) Is outdoor exercise better than indoor exercise?

Ans: In terms of improving overall fitness, there is almost no difference. Regardless, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Outdoor exercise is more refreshing thanks to the outside ait. It is also usually more dynamic and less boring since running or cycling outside means encountering obstacles and varying terrain. However, indoor exercise, particularly cycling, is safer and the weather is never a hindrance. You can also safely push yourself to the limit with indoor machines. Ultimately, it boils down to your inclination and which is convenient for you.

Man training on an exercise bike

2) What does high and low impact mean?

Ans: High impact exercises refer to ones that exert a lot of fast and firm downward pressure on the body and may involve lifting both feet off the ground at the same time. Examples include running, jumping, dancing, etc. These exercises put a lot of stress on our joints and may lead to injury if not performed with the proper form. Low impact exercises are much less harmful and are ideal for people with joint issues. These include walking, swimming, yoga, cycling, etc.

3) Are there different types of treadmills and exercise bikes?

Ans: Most treadmills have nearly the same design with variations in size and feature only. However, when it comes to exercise bikes there are three main types:- recumbent bikes, upright bikes, and indoor cycles. Each has its own purpose and pros and cons. You can learn more about them in the following video.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both treadmills and exercise bikes are excellent choices for getting great in a workout and to shred some of that fat that you have built up. As discussed, treadmills are great for intense training and burning calories, while exercise bikes are ideal for building lower body strength and for sensitive joints. Nevertheless, it is better to use both if you can. Then you can reap the benefits of both. We hope you found this article informative and enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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