There are two types of workout bikes – a spin bike and a stationary bike. Considering how similar they look, knowing which equipment will provide you with more fitness benefits can be tricky.
This article will discuss the differences between a spin bike and an exercise bike to help you identify which tool will help you achieve your fitness goals.
Use a spin bike if:
- You are aiming for a full-body workout
- You want to increase the intensity of your workout routine gradually
- You want to get a similar feeling to riding an outdoor bike
- You want to engage in strength training and muscle building
- You have a developed workout routine
Use an exercise bike if:
- You want to improve your cardiovascular health
- Your workout routine focuses on your lower muscles
- You want a leisurely workout that will not strain your muscles too much
- You want an indoor bike that has a pre-programmed workout routine
- You want to develop a workout routine
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People usually see a spin bike and exercise bike as the same workout equipment. But if you look past how the appearance of these tools resembles each other, you will see that they are very different.
The primary use of a spin bike is for intensive exercises. It engages your upper and lower body muscle, making it ideal for fitness enthusiasts who seek a full-body workout. In addition, a spin bike has a feature that allows you to increase its resistance, thus pushing your workout routine harder.
Advantages of a spin bike:
- resembles the feeling of riding an outdoor bike
- allows you to increase your workout routine’s intensity
- provides you with various bike workout positions, such as standing sprints and hill climbs
- timeless; a spin bike caters to beginner and athletic-level fitness enthusiasts so that you can use it for years.
- stresses your muscles a lot
- the seat-to-handlebar height ratio can be uncomfortable during long exercises
Meanwhile, an exercise bike offers a more relaxed workout. For this reason, it is ideal for people who seek a leisurely activity. It mainly targets the legs and improves your cardiovascular health.
Unlike spin bikes, exercise bikes emphasize comfort rather than building muscles. Still, this indoor bike can help you lose weight and burn calories.
The advantages of an exercise bike:
- provides a comfortable riding position
- ideal for improving cardiovascular fitness
- allows beginners to build a workout routine
- easy to use
- no option for intensive workout
- does not provide exercise positions other than sitting
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Cycling is one of the best physical activities a person looking to improve their health can do. It tones the muscles, burns excess fats, and improves respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Moreover, people who want to try indoor cycling have two options – a spin bike and an exercise bike. While both make you feel like you are riding a bike, the exercise equipment caters to different fitness goals.
A spin bike may appeal to cyclists, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes due to its resemblance to a road bike. The gap between the exercise equipment’s seat and handlebar gives a feeling of riding an outdoor bike. Considering how vigorous it is to ride an outdoor bike, you can expect an intense workout when using a spin bike.
Similar to an outdoor bike’s saddle, you can adjust the seat height of a spin bike to find your comfortable riding position. You may also set the handlebar closer or farther from you, depending on how much you want to lean while working out.
On the other hand, an exercise bike features a low seat height. The handlebar is also close to the seat and is not adjustable. This structure allows you to remain upright as you pedal the equipment, resulting in a less aggressive workout.
Additionally, an exercise bike is more compact than a spin bike. Its size is ideal for people who like working out at home, as it does not consume a lot of space.
If you value the adjustability of an exercise tool, a spin bike can give you just that.
Spin bikes feature technology that is easy to use and understand. While many of these bikes do not come with state-of-the-art technology, modern versions with smart technology are starting to emerge. For instance, many spin bikes today have LCD consoles that help you track basic workout data.
However, you cannot expect a spin bike’s console to track in-depth data. It can only display your workout’s speed, duration, distance, and calories burned.
Moreover, exercise bikes, or stationary bikes as many people call them, are more technologically advanced. The data displayed by an exercise bike’s console allows you to track more statistics than distance, speed, and duration. Instead, its console can also track your heart rate, allowing you to see the progress of your cardiovascular fitness.
Another thing that makes a stationary bike technologically advanced is that it allows you to customize your workout routine.
Considering these facts, there is no denying that a stationary bike is better than a spin bike regarding technology and data tracking.
Another feature that is present in both bikes is the intensity of the workout it offers. But while the said feature is available in both tools, we conducted a test and found out how they differ.
In spin bikes, you will achieve a full-body workout, starting from your legs to your core and arms. Using a spin bike rather than a stationary bike intensifies your exercise. Thanks to its resemblance to an outdoor bike, a spin bike allows you to engage your muscles more.
If you are a beginner, you can set the intensity of your spin bike to lighter and gradually increase it until you develop a workout routine.
On the other hand, an exercise bike is more forgiving than a spin bike. It does not strain your muscles too much, as it only caters to leisurely and low-intensity exercises. While a spin bike is for a full-body workout, a stationary bike only targets your lower body muscles and heart health.
While you can adjust the resistance of a stationary bike, it will not reach the same intensity that a spin bike offers. This exercise equipment is ideal for people who want to make their workout routine more comfortable and enjoyable.
In addition, a stationary bike is ideal for people who cannot perform vigorous exercise due to health issues. The article Exercise And Cardiovascular Health found evidence that relates exercising and heart health. According to Jonathan Myers, PhD., the article’s author, working out regularly positively affects people at risk for heart disease. The reason is that regular exercise increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol.
Physical activities help burn the excess calories you take, resulting in a healthier physique and health. However, weight loss is not the only benefit brought by reducing the extra calories in your body.
According to the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports, and Health, burning calories can reduce stress and anxiety. It can also prevent fluctuating blood sugar, heart disease, and cancer.
While a spin bike provides more intense exercise than a stationary bike, the number of calories you burn will depend on the duration of your workout. You will not burn many calories even when you use a spin bike if you only ride it for less than an hour. Similarly, spending hours riding a stationary bike will allow you to burn many calories regardless of how easy your routine is.
According to a medically-reviewed article by Healthline, an exercise bike can help you burn over 600 calories an hour, depending on your routine’s intensity. If your aim for working out is to burn calories, a spin bike will be a better choice.
A flywheel is a heavy disc you can find either in front or at the back of these bikes. Similar to an outdoor bike’s pedals and drive wheel, a chain connects the flywheel to an exercise bike’s pedals. As a result, the flywheel spins when the rider propels the pedals.
The heavier the flywheel is, the more difficult it will be to pedal your workout equipment.
Moreover, a spin bike’s flywheel is heavier than a stationary bike’s. It may also have either a magnet or contact pads, which allows you to increase the flywheel’s resistance. This mechanism makes the spin bike an excellent tool for people who constantly change the intensity of their workout routine.
Unlike a spin bike, an exercise bike has a lightweight flywheel. For this reason, you cannot increase your routine’s momentum. An exercise bike also has consistent resistance, so it is not ideal for those who want to develop a progressive workout routine.
Regardless of the intensity of your workout, indoor cycling provides various health benefits. According to a study conducted at Poznan University, just 12 weeks of light to moderate indoor cycling can improve a person’s overall body composition and aerobic capacity. It also proved that indoor cycling effectively increases muscle and cardiovascular endurance.
If your aim for using an indoor bike is strength training, then a spin bike can help you develop an easy to high-intensity routine.
While many features of a spin bike and an exercise bike are similar, some features set them apart.
- Pre-Programmed Workout Routines – As mentioned, an exercise bike is more technologically advanced than a spin bike. While both bikes feature a console, an exercise bike has pre-programmed workout routines that you can follow. If the pre-programmed routines do not satisfy you, customize your own and save it on your exercise bike for future use.
- More Versatile Ride – When using a stationary bike, you can only pedal while sitting, as you cannot hop on its pedals. On the other hand, a spin bike is more versatile. You can exercise while seated or stand on the pedals to do hill climbs and intense sprints.
If you want to engage in various workout routines while using your exercise bike, you should try using a spin bike.
- Water Bottle Holder – since a spin bike resembles an outdoor bike, you will find models that feature a water bottle holder on its frame. This feature is ideal, allowing you to reach for your drink without getting off the bike. According to The University Of Michigan, exercise-related dehydration can lead to exhaustion, heat stroke, muscle cramps, and muscle breakdown. So, keeping yourself hydrated before, during, and after indoor cycling is essential.
Get a spin bike if you want an uninterrupted workout.
- Myers, Jonathan. “Exercise and cardiovascular health.” Circulation 107, no. 1 (2003). Accessed January 20, 2023.
- Abou Elmagd, Mohammed. “Benefits, need and importance of daily exercise.” Int. J. Phys. Educ. Sports Health 3, no. 5 (2016): 22. Accessed January 20, 2023.
- Emily Cronkelton. “What are the benefits of a stationary bike workout?” 7 Great Benefits of a Stationary Bike Workout (blog). July 12, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/stationary-bike-workout. Accessed January 20, 2023.
- MHealthy Physical Activity Program. “The Importance Of Water While Exercising.” The University Of Michigan. (2011): 1. https://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/Mhealthy/TheImportanceofWaterWhileExercising.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2023.