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Treadmill vs Elliptical vs Bike vs Stairmaster

Treadmill vs Elliptical vs Bike vs Stairmaster

Want to achieve an effective cardio workout? Overwhelmed by so many options available? Should you navigate the treadmill? Or bikes and Stairmaster are better to hop on? I know the feeling. It is difficult to pick one when there are a handful of options that can do the same job for you. To get a more precise insight, let's know the essential characteristics of these pieces of equipment.

treadmill is a moving machine. You've to run with the speed of the belt staying at the same place. Elliptical is also stationary equipment. It possesses moving handgrips, and resistance is adjustable, whereas Stairmaster allows you to climb up at a desirable speed. Stationary bike resembles a bicycle and equips a saddle, handlebars, and pedals.

Running on a treadmill can burn your hundred calories per mile. You can do the workout of an hour in just 25 minutes by using elliptical. Bikes feature low-intensity work-out. Put on your headphones, listen to your favorite melody, and spend more time doing this, whereas Half an hour of workout on Stairmaster will burn nearly 200 calories.

Stick to the page. I'm going to help you find the best cardio machine for weight loss. I'm going to make a comparison between treadmill, elliptical, bike, and Stairmaster by considering the following factors. Read on!

TreadmillEllipticalBikeStairmaster
Muscles Workedboth quadriceps and hamstrings – the calves and the glutesglutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and anterior tibialiscalves, hamstrings, and quadriceps,core, back, and glutesCalves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes
Calorie Burning30 minutes at an easy pace of 5 mph, a 125-pound person will burn 240 calories while a 185-pound person will burn about 355 calories.a 160-pound person would burn about 345 calories during 30 minutes on the elliptical.12 to 13.9 miles per hour will cause a 155-pound person to burn 298 calories in 30 minutesA half-hour workout on the StairMaster can burn anywhere from 180 to 260 calories — or more
IntensityHigh-intensityModerate intensityModerate intensityHigh-intensity
BudgetHighHighLowHigh
Tracking WorkoutsYesYesYesYes
Ease of useYesYesYesYes
Reliabilitytreadmill can be a great training tool.If you have bad knees or are rehabbing from a lower-body injury.low-impact, easy usestair climbing is very close to a full body workout.

Muscles Worked

Treadmill

  • Pros: The increased movement of lower limbs direct and improve inclination postures.
  • Cons: It has a lower hand on upper limb workout.

Elliptical

  • Pros: It offers a decent workout for biceps, triceps, and upper back muscles.
  • Cons: It is not much beneficial for lower limb workout.

Stationary Bike

  • Pros: It will help you gain strength in lower body muscles.
  • Cons: It may cause excessive fatigue for a person with a lower back issue.

Stairmaster

  • Pros: Best for the aerobic exercise of lower limbs.
  • Cons: Upper limbs don't get influenced.


Getting strength training is a wise decision. You have to strengthen your muscles for a healthy and active life. Especially the core muscles must be strong. Core muscles play a significant role in stabilizing the whole body. There are many options available to meet fitness goals. You have to understand their features to know which suits you best.

Bikes and ellipticals offer low resistance but help you work for a long time without getting exhausted. For a beginner, doing exercises that involve fewer muscles is an intelligent decision. You know your body than anyone else. Consult with your gym instructor or a physiotherapist. Use the equipment which is precise for your targeted muscle group.

Treadmills are most precise to maximize heartbeat bone density and weight loss. It allows you to customize your workout by adjusting incline features. An elliptical is best for weight-bearing exercises with the least impact. Bikes also have the least impact. It is not much stressful for joints.

If we see treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike vs. Stairmaster, then treadmills offer the best opportunity to improve muscle tone. It conveys better results than elliptical, bike, and Stairmaster when it comes to cardiovascular and fat burning work-out.

Elliptical include your whole body in the workout. It is especially advantageous when it comes to the muscles of the legs.

For sculpting the body and burning fat, cardio workouts are highly essential. During aerobic exercises, when we use oy large muscles, the heartbeat rises automatically. The increased heartbeat makes sure to supply sufficient blood to everybody muscle. This raised heartbeat contributes a lot in improving your circulation and improvement of health.

Such exercises are also part of training regimes. It helps you in staying active and revitalized.

To boost the fitness and shrink the waistline, equipment that involves maximum muscles of your body is essential. The more the muscles will be engaged in the exercise, the more the calories will burn.

Calorie Burning

Treadmill

  • Pros: Burn more calories in less time.
  • Cons: Starters can face balance challenges.

Elliptical

  • Pros: No strenuous impact on knee, hips, spine, and ankle joints.
  • Cons: inclined features are not well supported.

Stationary Bike

  • Pros: Most suitable for people with older age and joint pain.
  • Cons: People may face problems in adjusting themselves to the equipment.

Stairmaster

  • Pros: Best for raising the heart rate.
  • Cons: It is only beneficial for muscles below the waistline.

Which cardio equipment helps you burn more calories?

It is a question everyone wants to know. It is a simple and straightforward question to ask but a hard one to answer. Let me explain this gradually to you. The results depend on your efforts far more than the type of equipment you are using.

You need to discover a machine on which you can put your maximum bids. Now the next question may arise, 'how will I know that which machine is that?' The answer is an experiment on different types of equipment. The most precise will be the one which is easy on your body, and you can work on it by remaining in your comfort zone.

The more efforts you will put, the more fat will your body burn. You can't expect yourself to put much effort into a machine that is hard to use or set your body to some pain or injury. Therefore, it varies from person to person that which is the best option.

If we see generally, then Ellipticals are the rulers when it comes to burning calories. It is the best cardio machine for weight loss. The reason is the inclusion of the body both above and below the waistline when you work out on them as it includes most of the body muscles in exercise, so consequently, it burns more calories. So elliptical is on top of the list.

Treadmills and Stairmasters both focus on the lower-body workout. For burning more calories, elliptical machines are ideal. You can blaze your 330 calories by hoping for half an hour on an elliptical machine. The reason for the preference is their least impact on joints.

The rate of burning calories is directly proportional to your heart rate. The faster your heartbeat, the more calories you will burn. For effective results, add periodic diversity in your work-out. Don't stick to one machine. Most of the equipment has a calorie counter display. The results are not accurate. They are just for estimation.

If you don't have a knee issue, back pain, or other joint problems, then you elliptical must be your first choice. Working with periodic intervals on a treadmill is also suitable for calorie burning.

Intensity

Treadmill

  • Pros: Allows your body to move precisely by remaining in your comfort zone.
  • Cons: Constantly repeating the same act can bore you to hell.

Elliptical

  • Pros: The best option for low impact.
  • Cons: Movement pattern is unnatural.

Stationary Bike

  • Pros: People with bad knees love to bike.
  • Cons: biking for an extended time may cause bruises.

Stairmaster

  • Pros: Brilliant functionality.
  • Cons: It will cause more fatigue but will burn fewer calories.

Intense workouts keep you fit and active. There are many types of equipment that are useful for HIIT. You can't use all of them. Finding the one that outperforms the rest is a real challenge. High-intensity interval training burns your more calories and fat and increases muscular strength.

Which machine is least intense and has a minimum or no impact on joints?

It is elliptical again. The design and functionality of an elliptical machine are most suitable for those who are facing joint problems. Elliptical has no impact on joints because it does not encourage stepping. To avoid joint pain, choosing elliptical is a wise option.

For a runner with knee pain, lower back pain, and other joint problems, a treadmill will be the worst choice. When it comes to impact, treadmills are so disappointing. It won't hurt to walk on a treadmill. But during hard workouts, when you have to run for a more extended period, then this treadmill is going to gift you so much pain.

If you want to avoid or minimize this pain, the best practice is to put on thick footwear. Bikes are also pain-friendly when it comes to joints. But an important consideration here is, remain cautious while working on bikes. The constant movement of knees can result in the grinding of bones. Don't let this happen to you.

The machine which is precise for one may not suit the other. Before finalizing the decision, make sure your body is comfortable with the movement pattern of that equipment.

Budget

Treadmill

  • Pros: Gives you the benefit of personalizing your work-out.
  • Cons: Qualitative products are a bit pricey.

Elliptical

  • Pros: Offers variable resistance.
  • Cons: overuse can cause serious injury.

Stationary Bike

  • Pros: Features high speed and resistance.
  • Con: Cause pain in hip flexors.

Stairmaster

  • Pros: Ideal for the routine cardio workout.
  • Cons: People with extra tall and short height can face size problem.

Impressive features are not the only considerations of a buyer. It is a common idiom that 'cut your coat according to your cloth.' Some features that are useful for a person may not benefit you. Therefore, compare your needs with the features of the machine. You can find many budget-friendly models available in the market.

There is a wide variety of prices and models when it comes to cardio equipment. There are some very costly that are bought by professionals and high-level trainers. Then some models are portable, small in size, and you can afford them easily. For gyms, clubs, and homes, there is a variety of choices of machines which are not so expensive.

Before buying, have a look at the features. Don't buy the one that has features you don't need. Let's have a look at some essential elements that influence the cost of an elliptical.
Flywheel: How quiet and smooth is the machine during usage. A flywheel is something that decides this. It is a revolving wheel that provides stability to the equipment. The heavier the flywheel, the more will be the price of elliptical.

  • Cushioned pedals: For ease of use, some ellipticals have soft pedals. Those machines which provide this feature are highly-priced. Cushioned pedals make your experience smooth by reducing the stress on knees.
  • Display: Many new models coming have a console screen. The screen displays things like heartbeat and the number of burnt calories. The larger the screen, the more visible the readings will be, and ultimately, the price goes high.
  • Warranty: Everyone wants to buy a product that has a good warranty. These warranty offers don't come out for free. Warranties show the faith of the manufacturer in their product. And this can only happen if everything used for the construction of the machine is of good quality. So expect such equipment to be pricier.

You can get a cardio machine from hundred dollars to even thousands of dollars — all it depends on the features present in that machine.

Tracking Workouts

Treadmill

  • Pros: You can hop on a treadmill by staying in your comfort zone.
  • Cons: It is not useful for muscle strengthening of the upper body.

Elliptical

  • Pros: High-calorie burn in less time.
  • Cons: May leave an adverse effect on your joints.

Stationary Bike

  • Pros: Helps you bear a low-intensity workout.
  • Cons: Dragged and extended period piss you off

Stairmaster

  • Pros: Most precise equipment for individuals with joint issues.
  • Cons: lack of variation results in boredom.

Tracking workout is crucial as it will help you know if you are heading in the right direction. You will immediately figure out if there is any problem with your routine. The two essential and necessary things to check are Is my cardio improving?  Am I losing fat?

If any of the questions fail to get a satisfactory answer, then work on that area to improve. Tracking helps you improve continually. It let you know where you are standing today. Thus knowledge blows a spirit in you to be at a better place tomorrow. In this way, you improve yourself constantly. Tracking workouts also contributes significantly to achieve set goals. It will encourage you to keep your hopes high.

Another critical question is, 'how frequently should you track your workout?'. The answer is, do it twice a week. If not so, then do it once a week at least. Compare the time and intensity of every session with the previous day; keep a record in the journal; see the progress at the end of the month.

Tracking your progress is an essential thing to do. Take your progress pictures and weigh yourself at regular intervals. The scales on the equipment are not always accurate, so periodically track your health journey.

Ease of Use

Treadmill

  • Pro: Everyone can use it conveniently.
  • Con: Stability issues may occur.

Elliptical

  • Pro: formidable equipment that helps in a full-body workout.
  • Con: excessive use of rails can cause resistance problem.

Stationary Bike

  • Pro: pedaling motion empowers leg muscles.
  • Con: It has some portability challenges.

Stairmaster

  • Pro: Portable and light in weight.
  • Con: Overaged people may not find it easy.

Consistency is the first lesson of every exercise class. If you will not enjoy your exercise, how will you force yourself to do it daily? So, consider choosing a machine which you find more convenient and easy to use. Before wasting your time sweating in a gym, get a precise knowledge of the equipment present there.

Cardio exercises increase your heart rate. To maximize your work-out, you have to ensure that your body doesn't get exhausted before your heart. To achieve this goal, choose a machine that is productive, handy, and smooth to use.

Are you looking for equipment that emulates natural movement? A treadmill is the one! It has no confusing features. Whereas ellipticals are not well adapted for beginners. You need sound knowledge to use it rightly. Also, elliptical occupy ample space.

Is variability a matter of consideration? Yes, of course, it is!

If you will remain stick to the same equipment, how will you explore more? Experimentations allow you to know if there is some better option available than the existing one.
Elliptical win the competition when it comes to variation.

It doesn't bind you to a fixed position. You can step forward, backward. Also, you can adjust the resistance level. So elliptical won't let you get bored. It offers a variety of workouts. Comparatively, bike, and treadmill have issues of sameness. You have to follow the same movement pattern on the bike.

The only option you have is to pedal faster or slower. Treadmill also just give you a choice to walk or run, and to go on an incline. Hence, there are not many variations, so people get bored during long workouts on this equipment.

When it comes to comfort and ease of use, there are some crucial things about treadmill to discuss. Incline spirits are too risky to do for an unskilled person. Also, the handles on the treadmill are very unnatural. An unconscious hold on handles during a workout is a significant challenge.

The belt size also causes posture problems and challenges to main to maintain muscular balance. So, don't go for it if it is not easy on your body.

Reliability

Treadmill

  • Pro: Allow you to jog at a desirable pace.
  • Con: some of its parts are costly.

Elliptical

  • Pro: Don't overstress knees and joints. Safe for people who are obese or overweight.
  • Con: lacks variation, and monotony can offend you.

Stationary Bike

  • Pro: Customization options are ice on the cake.
  • Con: Technically, it’s an equipment with low impact.

Stairmaster

  • Pro: Intensity of work out will not bore you.
  • Con: A grip on railing will minimize the calorie burning.


Buying a quality product is very important. Some essential features that you might look into include;

  1. Ankle weights: They are not necessary for every exerciser. You can use them for endurance and strength exercises.
  2. Portability: Some models of cardio equipment are also foldable. These models must be your preference as they will not occupy much area, and you can quickly move it from one place to another. Treadmills are mostly top-ranked when it comes to size and portability — elliptical, on the other hand, demand ample space. Stationary bikes also don't call for a larger area.
  3. Reviews: To check the durability and quality of equipment must go through some customer reviews of that product. It will save you from expected loss.
  4. Exercise mat: A slippery mat will prove to be so offensive during workouts. Make sure your rug is padded rightly for floor workouts.
  5. Make sure the equipment you buy is durable enough to last for a more extended period. None of the machines is non-reliable. It depends on the manufacturers which quality they are producing. Read the reviews of the product you are aiming to buy.

Make a wise decision. Buy a qualitative product. Don't let your money go in vain.

Final Words

You can't deny the importance of cardiovascular workout. Research says 45 minutes of cardio exercise every four days a week will increase your muscle size to 5-6%. Not only this. It also provides strength to your heart, sharpens your mind, improves endurance, saves you from many fatal diseases, and so on. There's a massive list of its benefits.

There are plenty of options available to perform the cardio workout. In this article, I've drawn a comparison of treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike vs. Stairmaster.

In a Stairmaster, you use your legs to generate power. The treadmill gives you the control to operate your performance. An elliptical is beneficial for an overall cardio workout. Bikes are very relaxing and allow you to perform your casual tasks during a workout.

Stairmaster and treadmill are not useful for upper body workout. Stairmaster can put you in posture problems, and it also doesn't help in burning more calories. An elliptical is most considerable, but a negative point they have is, complications in its functionality. Its movement is too complicated for a common man to understand.

None of the machines has a label of 'best cardio machine.' Everyone has different criteria to rank. Don't follow anyone else. Make your own choice!

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