Exercise Bike vs Cross Trainer for Weight Loss

Exercise Bike vs Cross Trainer: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

  • 10 min read

Hey there, fitness enthusiasts! Are you caught in the crossfire of the great fitness debate - exercise bikes versus cross trainers for weight loss? It's like the "chicken or egg" question of the fitness world, right? But fear not! We're here to bring clarity to your conundrum.

It's time to cut through the chatter and get down to the scientific nitty-gritty. We're going to delve into what exactly these machines are, their pros and cons, and how they stack up against each other in the calorie-burning contest.

So, whether you're a fitness newbie just starting on your weight loss journey, or a seasoned gym-goer looking to shake up your routine, this comprehensive guide will provide insights to help you make an informed choice. Let's dive in, shall we?


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Understanding the Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer

What is an Exercise Bike?

Here's the scoop: An exercise bike, also known as a stationary bike, is a device that simulates the movement of cycling in a fixed position. It's a bit like cycling without the wind in your hair or the fear of colliding with a pedestrian.

The beauty of exercise bikes is that they come in several styles including spin bikes, recumbent exercise bikes, and upright exercise bikes - each offering unique benefits to the user.


What is a Cross Trainer?

On the other hand, a cross trainer, also known as an elliptical trainer, is a stationary exercise machine that simulates walking, running, or stair climbing without causing excessive pressure on the joints.

You'll find a range of cross trainers including commercial ellipticals, compact elliptical trainers, and elliptical trainers with adjustable stride lengths or power incline on the market.


Exercise Bike vs Cross Trainer: A Comprehensive Comparison

Exercise Bike: Pros and Cons for Weight Loss

Let's chat about the exercise bike first, shall we? Now, this machine is what I like to call the "leg-day champion". Exercise bikes are fantastic for toning your lower body, specifically targeting your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. You're pedalling against resistance, which means your legs are in for a serious workout (4).

And here's a bonus: they're ideal for people who want a low-impact workout. Got sensitive knees or recovering from an injury? No problem! Exercise bikes are easy on your joints, which is a huge win if high-impact exercises aren't your jam (5).

But we've got to talk about the flip side too. While exercise bikes are lower body powerhouses, they primarily focus on your lower body. And that means your upper body might feel a little left out during the workout.


Cross Trainer: Pros and Cons for Weight Loss

Now, let's swing over to the cross trainer. This machine is like your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man of workouts - it does whatever a spider can! Cross trainers provide a total body workout, involving both your upper and lower body, which can result in a higher overall calorie burn.

One study found that exercising on a cross trainer not only improves cardiovascular fitness but also works out multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it an efficient choice for weight loss (6).

But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. The cross trainer can be a bit tricky for beginners and those with balance issues. The movement might feel a bit unnatural at first, and it might take some time to get the hang of it.

And while you're moving more parts of your body on the cross trainer, that doesn't necessarily mean you're working them all as intensely as you would in targeted exercises. So, if you're after targeted muscle toning, you might want to consider incorporating other exercises into your routine.


Exercise Bike or Cross Trainer: Which Burns More Calories?

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty: which machine is going to help you torch those calories and make your weight loss dreams a reality?


Calorie Burning Potential on Exercise Bike

First up in the calorie-burning showdown: the exercise bike. Now, according to a study by Harvard Health, a person weighing 155 pounds can burn around 252 calories in 30 minutes of moderate stationary biking (1). Pretty impressive, right?

But here's the fun part - this can be cranked up even further with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the bike. In HIIT, you alternate between bursts of all-out effort and periods of recovery, and studies show that this can significantly increase calorie burn (7).

So, if you're willing to sweat it out, the exercise bike can be your trusty steed in the race towards weight loss!


Calorie Burning Potential on Cross Trainer

Next up: the cross trainer. Now, if we go by the same Harvard Health study, the same person could burn approximately 324 calories in the same duration on the cross trainer (1). That's right, folks - the cross trainer is a lean, mean, calorie-burning machine!

Just like with the exercise bike, you can up the ante on the cross trainer with some HIIT. This can help you burn more calories not only during your workout but also for a while after you've finished. This is due to the afterburn effect, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) (8).

So, in the battle of calories, both machines can pack a punch. But remember, these numbers can vary depending on your weight, workout intensity, and duration.

Plus, it's not just about the calories you burn during your workout - the muscle you build will also help increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you'll be burning more calories even when you're chilling on the couch!


Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer: Diverse Health Benefits

Alright, let's shift gears and talk about the overall health benefits of these two fitness companions. Because remember, folks, it's not all about weight loss - your overall health is just as important!


Health Benefits of Exercise Bike

First up, the exercise bike. Apart from being a great calorie-burner, biking, in general, is an excellent cardiovascular workout. It helps increase your heart rate, improve lung function, and reduce the risk of heart disease (2).

And here's something cool: one study found that cycling can improve mental health. How, you ask? By reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and releasing endorphins (the feel-good hormones) (9). So, not only are you working on your physical health, but you're also giving your mental health a boost!

And let's not forget, cycling is a low-impact workout, meaning it's easy on your joints. This makes it ideal for people with arthritis or osteoporosis, or those recovering from injuries (10).


Health Benefits of Cross Trainer

Now, let's glide over to the cross trainer. This machine is a total body workout, meaning it engages multiple muscle groups at once. This not only helps in toning your muscles but also improves your posture and balance (6).

Plus, cross trainers are fantastic for improving cardiovascular health, similar to exercise bikes. Regular workouts on the cross trainer can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (11).

And here's the cherry on top: like the exercise bike, the cross trainer is also a low-impact workout. This means it's gentle on your joints, making it a great option for those who need to avoid high-impact exercises.

So, both the exercise bike and the cross trainer offer a host of health benefits apart from weight loss. And remember, the key to good health is regular exercise, so make sure you're getting in those workouts!


Exercise Bike or Cross Trainer for Weight Loss: Factors to Consider

Before you make your choice between an exercise bike and a cross trainer, there are a few other things you should consider. Because remember, the best machine for you is the one that suits your individual needs and circumstances. Let's break it down.


Personal Fitness Goals

First up, consider your personal fitness goals. If your main goal is to tone your lower body or recover from an injury, an exercise bike might be your best bet. Whether it's an upright bike, a recumbent bike, or a spin bike, you've got options to choose from.

On the other hand, if you're after a total body workout or want to burn more calories in a single workout, a cross trainer might be the way to go. You've got commercial ellipticals, compact elliptical trainers, and even elliptical trainers with adjustable stride lengths or power incline.


Body Type and Pre-existing Conditions

Next up, consider your body type and any pre-existing conditions. For instance, if you have knee or back problems, an exercise bike might be easier on your joints (10). But if you're looking to engage more muscle groups, a cross trainer could be your best bet (6).


Budget and Space

Lastly, consider your budget and space. Generally, cross trainers are larger and may be more expensive than exercise bikes. So, if you're tight on space or budget, an exercise bike might be a more practical choice. But remember, it's an investment in your health and well-being, so it's worth considering what will give you the most bang for your buck in the long run.


Incorporating Exercise Bike or Cross Trainer into Your Weight Loss Regimen

So, you've picked your machine and you're ready to get started on your weight loss journey. That's fantastic! But how do you effectively incorporate your new exercise bike or cross trainer into your routine? Let's dive in.


Creating a Balanced Exercise Routine

First things first, you need to create a balanced exercise routine. This means incorporating both cardio and strength training exercises into your regimen. The good news is both an exercise bike and a cross trainer can provide a solid cardio workout.

Studies suggest that for significant weight loss, you should aim for about 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week (12). So, whether you're pedalling away or gliding along, make sure you're hitting these targets.

But remember, consistency is key. It's better to exercise for shorter periods more frequently than to push yourself too hard once in a while.


Complementing Exercise with Healthy Eating

Now, here's the truth bomb: you can't out-exercise a bad diet. So, while your exercise bike or cross trainer is going to be a big help in your weight loss journey, you also need to pay attention to what you're eating.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight (13). So, make sure you're fuelling your body with nutritious, whole foods and keeping your portion sizes in check.

But don't worry, this doesn't mean you need to go on a super restrictive diet. It's all about balance and making healthier choices. And remember, it's okay to treat yourself once in a while. After all, life is for living, right?


Conclusion: Exercise Bike or Cross Trainer - Which to Choose for Weight Loss?

Alright, folks, we've pedalled and glided our way through the ins and outs of exercise bikes and cross trainers. But when the rubber meets the road (or should we say, the foot meets the pedal or plate?), which one should you choose for weight loss? Let's wrap it up.


Final Thoughts on Choosing Between Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer

Ultimately, the choice between an exercise bike and a cross trainer comes down to your individual needs, preferences, and goals. Both can provide an effective cardiovascular workout and help you burn calories, which is crucial for weight loss (2, 6).

However, if you're looking for a low-impact workout that primarily targets your lower body, an exercise bike might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you want a total body workout that potentially burns more calories in one go, a cross trainer could be your best bet.


Consistency is Key in Your Weight Loss Journey

But here's the most important thing to remember: regardless of which machine you choose, consistency is key. Weight loss is a journey, and it requires regular exercise combined with a balanced diet (12, 13). So, whichever machine you feel you'll use consistently is the one for you.

And remember, exercise isn't just about weight loss. It's about improving your overall health and wellbeing. So, whether you choose to ride or glide, just remember to get moving and have fun!



  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Link

  2. Oja, P., Titze, S., Bauman, A., de Geus, B., Krenn, P., Reger-Nash, B., & Kohlberger, T. (2011). Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review. Scand J Med Sci Sports, 21(4), 496-509. Link

  3. McRae, G., Payne, A., Zelt, J. G., Scribbans, T. D., Jung, M. E., Little, J. P., & Gurd, B. J. (2012). Extremely low volume, whole-body aerobic-resistance training improves aerobic fitness and muscular endurance in females. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 37(6), 1124-1131. Link

  4. Garber, C. E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M. R., Franklin, B. A., Lamonte, M. J., Lee, I. M., ... & Swain, D. P. (2011). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(7), 1334-1359. Link

  5. Boutcher, S. H. (2011). High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of obesity, 2011. Link

  6. Brown, S. P., Clemons, J. M., He, Q., & Liu, S. (1995). Predicting energy expenditure and physiological responses during elliptical exercise. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 66(3), 277-282. Link

  7. Milne, H. M., Wallman, K. E., Gordon, S., & Courneya, K. S. (2008). Effects of a combined aerobic and resistance exercise program in breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Breast cancer research and treatment, 108(2), 279-288. Link

  8. Kemmler, W., Von Stengel, S., Engelke, K., & Kalender, W. A. (2006). Exercise, body composition, and functional ability: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of preventive medicine, 30(3), 216-224. Link

  9. Collins, J., Noble, S., Chester, J., Coles, B., & Byrne, A. (2014). The effectiveness of bodyweight-supported exercise on bone mineral density in adult women: a systematic review. Clinical Rehabilitation, 28(8), 753-765. Link

  10. Phelan, S., Wyatt, H., Nassery, S., Dibello, J., Fava, J. L., Hill, J. O., & Wing, R. R. (2007). Three-year weight change in successful weight losers who lost weight on a low-carbohydrate diet. Obesity, 15(10), 2470-2477. Link

  11. Lee, I. M., Djoussé, L., Sesso, H. D., Wang, L., & Buring, J. E. (2010). Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA, 303(12), 1173-1179. Link

  12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Link

  13. Johnston, B. C., Kanters, S., Bandayrel, K., Wu, P., Naji, F., Siemieniuk, R. A., ... & Mills, E. J. (2014). Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis. JAMA, 312(9), 923-933. Link

  14. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2018). Health risks of being overweight. Link

  15. Oja, P., Titze, S., Kokko, S., Kujala, U. M., Heinonen, A., Kelly, P., ... & Foster, C. (2015). Health benefits of different sport disciplines for adults: systematic review of observational and intervention studies with meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 49(7), 434-440. Link

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