Is the elliptical machine better for weight loss than the stationary bike, or the other way around?
It’s easy to assume that the elliptical machine is better than the stationary bike for losing weight, because the elliptical trainer has you in a standing position, versus the stationary bike’s seated position in which the upper body isn’t doing anything.
But don’t let that fool you. Both the elliptical and the stationary bike can be great tools for weight loss, and one is not superior to the other – as far as losing weight.
This is because the most effective way to lose weight on cardio equipment is to perform high intensity interval training.
The pedal crank of a stationary bike is such that the entire lower body can be engaged in some very serious motion that will blast off fat, even though the upper body doesn’t move.
If you engage in high intensity interval training on a stationary bike, you will feel just as beaten up as you would performing HIIT on an elliptical machine.
Whether you are on the stationary bike or elliptical, the ideal format for HIIT is to find the setting in which 30 seconds of pedaling is almost impossible, and at the end of this 30 seconds, you are absolutely breathless and unable to go another second.
This means very fast pedaling, in combination with some degree of pedal resistance. You then pedal very easily, with a lower pedal resistance, for one to two minutes, catching your breath.
At the end of this recovery, you may still be breathing heavily, but it’s time to crank out another high-intensity interval of 30 seconds. Do eight intervals.
Doing “sprint” intervals on a stationary bike will burn significantly more fat than long-duration, traditional cardio (Talanian et al).
One machine does not have any advantage over the other. So it then boils down to personal preference.
Some people don’t like the discomfort of being on a bike seat, even for 20 minutes.
And other people don’t like the idea of pedaling while in a standing position.
For best results with the elliptical machine, don’t hold onto the rails. Let your legs absorb all the work.
This way, you’ll burn more calories than if you let the rails absorb some of the effort, which is exactly what will happen if you grip the rails.
What about those moving handles that come with some elliptical models? Forget those.
They are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. You do not have to place your hands on these handles.
Just let them move as you pedal; let your lower body do all the work, and position your arms as you would if you were jogging.
As for holding onto any part of the stationary bike, this is perfectly okay, because in this case, holding on will not take work away from the legs.
However, I have found that during high-intensity intervals on the stationary bike, it’s most comfortable when you are not clinging to the machine.