Should You Buy a Treadmill or an Exercise Bike? – Our Complete Guide

Looking for the right exercise machine can take a lot of work.

You have to consider your fitness goals and training aspirations, your schedule, and your budget.

Exercise bikes and treadmills have long been one of the top choices for those looking to get great workouts in at home and the gym.

But which of the two should you get?

To learn the answer to the question of should you buy a treadmill or an exercise bike, let us answer some questions for you.

Should you buy an exercise bike or treadmill

Should You Buy a Treadmill or an Exercise Bike?

What Is The Difference?

A treadmill is one of the most straightforward, most common exercise machines around the world. No matter what gym you go to, you’ll find one.

So, whether you’re at a tiny hotel gym or the biggest 24/7 fitness centre, you’ll be set. They’re also a great option because they’re easy to install and take up a small enough amount of space that you can fit one in any home.

Treadmills are meant for walking or running. You can choose any speed or incline for what type of workout you are looking for.

This is great for runners, walkers, and hikers, as the options give you lots of freedom. The machine has a moving platform made by a wide conveyer belt, powered by an electric motor or flywheel, depending on the model. So, no matter how fast you run, you’ll stay in the same spot.

Like treadmills, exercise bikes are common all around the world. They’re even smaller than treadmills and are often much quieter. So, they’re a great option for those with minimal space or those who have heavy noise restrictions.

They are made up of handlebars, pedals, and a seat that is often shaped like a saddle, similar to a regular bicycle. The movements that you make on an exercise bike are meant to replicate the way you would move on a regular bike outdoors.

Another important difference to note is the price. Treadmills can cost you a lot of money, especially if you want one that’s uniquely designed for things like competitive running.

Exercise bikes can be pricey, too, but they do have a lot more budget-friendly options. If you want to keep your wallet happy, then an exercise bike might be the more attractive option.

What Is Best For Losing Weight?

Wanting to lose weight is one of the most common reasons that you may have for asking yourself should you buy a treadmill or an exercise bike. Though, like most weight-loss related questions, this one isn’t black and white.

When it comes to weight loss, it will depend on the intensity of your workouts. Using a high resistance and high speed on an exercise bike will help you lose weight faster than walking at a slow pace on no incline while using a treadmill.

As long as your heart rate is up and you’re putting in a high level of intensity, either machine can help you lose weight. But, to reach maximum weight loss, here is how to do it on either machine.

Losing Weight With A Treadmill

Losing weight on a treadmill is all about finding your fat-burning zone by getting your heart rate up.  Most treadmills have data trackers that allow you to insert your age and weight, and calculate your calorie loss on its own.

This is much easier than trying to do math in your head. But for those who prefer to do the math, you need to start by figuring out your maximum heart rate.

Calculating your maximum heart rate is done by calculating (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). So, if you’re 35 years old, your max heart rate should be 190.

Your ideal fat-burning range is 60%-70% of your max heart rate. So, for a 35-year-old with a max heart rate of 190, your fat-burning zone would be when you’re at a heart rate of 114 to 133.

The good news about calculating weight loss via your fat-burning zone is that you can reach this heart rate by different types of activities. Most sprints or long-distance runs may increase your heart rate by more than 133. So, a 30-minute jog at a moderate speed should do the trick.

And, if you don’t like running, a slower pace with a higher incline can also have you falling between these heart rates. However, those who don’t like running may prefer the exercise bike option when you ask yourself “should you buy a treadmill or an exercise bike?”

Losing Weight With An Exercise Bike

You can use your fat burning zone to achieve weight loss while on an exercise bike, too. But for losing weight with an exercise bike, it’s all about resistance.

It’s easy to get into a routine of hopping on the bike, and pedalling as fast as you can until you can’t go any further. This may increase your heart rate and tire you out, but you aren’t doing as much as you can for your body.

By increasing your resistance levels, you’ll be able to work up to a steady ride where you can stay in your maximum fat burning zone for longer.

A great way to lose weight and increase stamina with your exercise bike is to practice hill climbs. Start cycling at a lower resistance level, and go for about 5 minutes.

Once those 5 minutes are up, up the resistance. Keep going until you feel as if you’re going up a hill, and can’t push for much longer. The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at staying within your fat burning zone for longer.

The Best Option For Bad Knees

While exercise bikes and treadmills are pretty comparable (on most factors), the treadmill isn’t always the best for those with bad joints.

Running keeps a jarring motion on your knees, which can become worse the faster or longer you go. Though, running on a treadmill is better for your knees than running outside, because the belt has more give than asphalt or concrete.

Using an exercise bike is considered low-impact (unless you are at maximum speed and resistance!). So, you’ll get a great workout, without putting a strain on your joints.

When you aren’t putting pressure on your joints, you’ll be able to go for longer.  If you have joint problems or are in recovery from an injury, the exercise bike might just be your best option.

The Verdict of If Should You Buy a Treadmill or an Exercise Bike

There is no simple answer to whether you should buy a treadmill or an exercise bike. 

It’s all about your goals, your fitness level, and your body. If you’re training for a marathon, or are just trying to hold yourself over through a snowy winter that’s keeping you from your morning jog, then a treadmill will be the right option.

If you love the feeling of riding a bicycle but don’t want to bike outdoors, then an exercise bike is right for you.

So, do you prefer treadmills or exercise bikes? Or maybe a bit of both?

Since almost any gym will come equipped with both options, it’s always a good idea to give both a try before taking the plunge and buying your own.

A day pass at a fitness centre might just help you make the best decision of your life and answer the question of whether you should buy a treadmill or an exercise bike.

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