If you are shopping for a new cardio machine, you probably need to consider a few options. Treadmills and recumbent bikes are among the most popular choices. They are great for working the body and legs in different ways. However, the body position is different in both – on a treadmill, you are standing up, while on a recumbent bike, you are sitting.
Even though they are different, recumbent bikes and treadmills fall into the same category which is cardio and are ideal for home workouts. They are a great choice for burning calories and building cardiovascular fitness. Determining which of them is better depends on your personal needs and your exercise goals.
Before we get started with the actual comparison, let’s review both pieces of equipment and tell you how they are designed.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes: Comfortable Workout With Support For The Back
The recumbent exercise bikes are designed for you to cycle while seated, providing you with support for your back and having little impact on the joints. They are among the safest cardio machines out there, resembling a chair with a cycle in front of you.
While the backrest provides good support for your back, your legs are spread in a natural position, where you cycle with your feet out in front of you, causing little impact on the joints and going with a smooth pedaling motion.
Recumbent bikes are ideal for people who have joint injuries, are going through recovery, or want to prevent any tension in their low-intensity workout. They are great for building strength in the legs without putting much pressure on the joints, and also present a great cardio fitness workout at the same time.
Treadmills: Effective Running Workout
Treadmills are another great way to burn calories, feel good, and lose weight fast. As a standard cardio exercise, using the treadmill means running at your own pace, keeping the motion steady and burning calories by moving almost every muscle in your body.
Most of the treadmills nowadays come with additional features such as more gradient levels, challenging you to run up a hill or downhill. Most of them have a belt and the more features they have, the more expensive they are.
The Comparison: Which Is Better For What – Recumbent Bike Vs. Treadmill
Now, let’s start our comparison between the treadmill and the recumbent bike, where we will share the pros/cons of each and help you choose your ideal piece of fitness equipment.
Which Is Better For Maximum Calorie Burn Potential?
If you want to burn more calories effectively, both of these machines are good for that. However, running keeps your body straight which means that you will be able to burn more calories if you are running at the same pace and heart rate as you would do when spinning.
If you are going at an incline of 6%-8% and speed of over 6km per hour, you can even walk on your treadmill and burn more than 1000 calories for each hour. If you prefer running, anything above 8km per hour can give you a burn of more than 800 calories per hour.
Still, recumbent bikes are also great for calorie burn. They can help you burn more than 600 calories per hour with a steady program, which is still good for people who want to shed some pounds off their belly.
Which Is Better For Muscle/Knee Tension?
When it comes to muscle and knee tension, it is evident that the recumbent bike is the winner. People with muscle and knee pain and related problems should not think twice about this – choosing a recumbent bike is the safer option here as it won’t cause any additional pain.
All of this is because of the position. When seated on a recumbent bike, you are not putting pressure on your lower spine, knees and joints. In comparison, running on a treadmill puts your body up and creates tension on your knees and joints with each step.
This is the main reason why people who are in recovery or dealing with knee/muscle/joint pain prefer recumbent bikes and cycling compared to running.
Which Is More Flexible And Versatile?
Flexibility is the ability to move joints effectively through a complete range of motion. While exercise bikes are usually seen as the safer and easier option for cardio exercises compared to treadmills, they are also better when it comes to flexibility and reducing lower back pressure.
However, on the topic of versatility, the treadmill can be used for more exercises. For instance, you can run, you can walk or you can do both with an incline option (uphill) which resembles hiking and gives you an even more calorie-burning workout.
Which Is More Affordable?
The topic of cost depends on many factors when buying this sort of fitness equipment.
With treadmills, for example, you have different choices which cost from $500 up to $4,000 for the most sophisticated piece. They also come in more varieties but the price for a manual treadmill (without incline and other fancy features) is typically from $500 to $700, while a motorized one (with a belt) is usually $800 and up. To pay for a decent machine like this, you need around $1,500 to $2,000.
Recumbent bikes are generally cheaper when compared to treadmills. They all come in at prices of $500 to $1,000, and spending more than a thousand will give you the best machine on the market. The price of these models is cheaper because of their moving system, which is a fan or magnet rather than a motor (as in treadmills). So, buying a recumbent bike is definitely the cheaper option.
Which Is Better For Beginners?
If ease of use is one of the first things you are considering when buying a new cardio machine, a recumbent bike is definitely for you. Beginners can benefit from the seating position which makes it easier to burn calories compared to a treadmill.
Speaking of, a treadmill is also good for beginners, since it can offer options such as moderate walking, slow running or uphill walking. Even though it is not as comfortable to use as a recumbent bike, it is still a good option for beginners.
Which Is Better For Elderly Or People With Physical Conditions/Injuries?
As we said earlier, recumbent bikes are perfect for elderly people or people with physical conditions and injuries. They are also great for ones who want to improve their hip and knee mobility after accidents or surgeries.
Even if you are in good health and without any problems, you can benefit from having a recumbent bike – especially if you want to improve the strength in your legs, your endurance, or if you want to change your usual training routine and bring something new to it.
Which Offers A Better Workout Feeling?
Last but not least is that feeling that you get after a hard workout.
With a treadmill, you will feel like you really went through intense training. Moving all of the muscles in your body will make you feel tired and burn more calories, which is why this machine offers a better workout feeling.
Recumbent bikes, on the other hand, have you sitting in the same position and only moving your legs. Hence, your legs will be the primary muscle group that “suffers” after a tough spinning workout.
If you still haven’t chosen your type of machine for your needs, let’s sum things up.
Buying a treadmill gives you a machine that you can use for walking, jogging or running. You can also use it to do all of these with an incline (uphill) option and activate your upper body, core and legs when doing this cardio workout. Hence, a treadmill is more effective when it comes to burning more calories and getting a better workout. If you aren’t suffering from any pain in your muscles, legs, knees or joints, and have a little bit more cash to spend on a machine, it is definitely a great choice for you.
A recumbent bike, on the other hand, is the ideal option for people who are in recovery or experiencing pain in their legs or body. The main difference is the sitting position which makes these bikes a lot more comfortable. While you cannot walk or run on them, the cycling workout can also get intense, helping you to burn more than 600 calories per hour. Buying a recumbent bike is also a cheaper decision, and there are options that can set you up with a solid machine for as low as $500.
We hope that this guide helped you choose the best machine and burn more calories in a new, effective workout!