man pedaling on spin bike

Spin Bike vs. Treadmill: Which One Should You Consider Purchasing For Your Cardio Workout?

Treadmills and exercise bikes are two standard machines in any gym.


These gym mainstays can help you burn calories, lose body fat, and increase stamina and endurance. They offer an excellent way to get aerobic training indoors—whether it’s in a commercial gym or in the comfort of your own at-home gym. And while purchasing both pieces of  equipment would be ideal if you have the luxury of an unlimited budget and enough floor space, most of us can only settle on one. So, which one is better for your cardio workouts?


Frankly, both are excellent choices, but your fitness level, goals, and lifestyle will be the deciding factors for which one of the two machines will suit you better. 


Read on to learn everything you need to know about both spin bikes and treadmills. Ultimately, deciding which is best for your cardio fitness aspirations will be up to you.

What is a treadmill?

treadmill is a cardio training machine for running or walking indoors. This equipment provides a moving platform with an adjustable speed for various workout programs and levels.

Running or walking on a treadmill is a good way to burn calories. Depending on your workout program, you can adjust the treadmill speed, and some treadmills will allow you to adjust the incline of the running platform, to mimic running uphill for a more intense workout. The more intense the treadmill workout is, the more calories burned, leading to faster weight loss.

Treadmill workouts don’t have to be boring, either. You don’t need to run at the same speed for 30-45 minutes, hating every minute of it. If you’re stumped and have no idea where to start, our beginner’s guide to treadmill workouts will give you a variety of treadmill workouts to keep things interesting while torching calories.

What is a spin bike?

Spin bikes are a type of exercise bike that look like regular road bikes, which makes it incredibly easy to transfer your outdoor road cycling experience to indoor training and vice versa. 

They help simulate outdoor cycling in every way and have features like a flywheel that generates resistance, which you can adjust to make your workout more or less intense. This cardio machine allows for a high-intensity, low-impact exercise, which helps put less strain on the joints, significantly reducing knee pain while positively impacting your fitness routine.  

Did you know: Stationary bikes and elliptical machines offer similar benefits? Here’s a detailed comparison between an elliptical vs. stationary bike.

Pros and cons of treadmills

Let’s talk about a treadmill’s benefits and limitations to help you decide between it and a spin bike.

Treadmill pros

  • It lets you run and walk indoors. 
  • Its adjustable speed and incline gives you excellent control of your workout session's intensity.
  • Most treadmills allow effective and accurate data tracking. 
  • Treadmills can be used for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), as a rehabilitation tool for balance, and  other gait-related training.

Treadmill cons

  • People tend to choose lower speeds on treadmills than they would actually run outdoors, resulting in less calorie burn.
  • They can take up a lot of space
  • Regular professional maintenance will be required
  • You can be thrown off the treadmill if you aren’t careful.

Pros and cons of spin bikes

Spin bikes help improve fitness by increasing muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, amongst other advantages, but they also have some downsides. Let's examine all of them.

Spin bike pros

  • Help improves most fitness metrics like muscle strength, body fat, blood pressure, body composition, and many other fitness and health parameters. 
  • You can easily adjust the resistance to increase or decrease exercise intensity.
  • Stationary cycling can also help improve gait and balance.
  • Exercise bikes are generally joint-friendly, so you needn't worry much about joint pain when using them.

Spin bike cons

Choosing between a stationary bike and rowing machine? Check out the stationary bikes vs. rowing machine comparison to know the best one for muscle growth. 

Is a Spin Bike or Treadmill Better for Weight Loss?

While both exercise machines are efficient for weight loss, you should lean towards a treadmill when looking for the most efficient one. Generally, people burn more calories and lose more weight while running than riding a bike within the same timeframe.


According to research, an average 190 lb male burns 8.18-10.78 calories per minute running on a treadmill compared to the 7.98-10.48 calories per minute when riding a stationary bike. Although a small difference, it adds up over a 45-60 minute session. 

Belly fat burn

Any cardio workout will lead you to expending energy. And alongside proper nutrition with a caloric deficit you’ll quickly start to see a reduction in body and belly fat. At the end of the day, though, it boils down to how you work out. HIIT is one of the best ways to burn stubborn belly fat. Since you can use any of the two exercise equipment for HIIT training, one isn’t inherently better than the other.


HIIT comprises a session of high-intensity work quickly followed by a recovery period of low-intensity. For example, a 30-minute long HIIT workout session involving 20 seconds of intense exercising accompanied by 40 seconds of rest will burn about 20-30% more calories than cycling or running at a steady pace during the same duration. The reason for this is because when you raise your heart rate significantly, you induce Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which means you'll continue to burn calories even after you’ve stopped working out. 


By the way…you should also know that you can’t spot-reduce fat. You can reduce body fat generally by being in a caloric deficit and training effectively. Over time, you’ll see your belly fat start to disappear as well.

Spin bike vs. treadmill: diving deeper

Workout intensity and difficulty

Comparing the intensity and difficulty on a treadmill versus a stationary bike is difficult because this comparison is dependent on the settings used. For instance, treadmill workouts can be more challenging than stationary bikes when running on an incline or sprinting. In the same way, you'll find indoor cycling more challenging during intense HIIT training, where the bike's resistance is cranked up.


Therefore, regardless of what cardio machine you opt for among the two, you can tweak the difficulty level to meet your requirement. You only need to increase the resistance and pedal harder to increase the difficulty on an exercise bike. If it's a treadmill, increase the incline and pace. 

Muscles Worked

Walking or running on a treadmill puts all the muscles in the lower body to work, namely, the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. It also works the core, and your arms will get a tiny bit of action as well since you need them to stabilize, as long as you don't hold on to the handrails while working out. 


On the other hand, spin bikes predominantly put significant muscles in the quads, hamstrings and calves to work. It can also work the muscles in your core, back, and shoulders. For instance, when standing on the spin bike, you can turn your session into a full-body workout. But we advise that you learn to perform and master the correct form before trying to make it harder by any means.


Be sure you have proper form when setting up on a spin bike. Here’s how to make sure your bike set up and form are impeccable.

Calories burned

It's no secret that treadmills and spin bikes effectively burn calories. But which one burns more?


One thing to note is the intensity and duration of your workout. You'd likely burn more calories doing treadmill training than riding a spin bike under the same timeframe. However, calorie burn also depends on factors like age, fitness level, workout intensity, etc. 


Running on a treadmill at a moderate pace (9.6 km/h) will burn 295, 360 and 420 calories for a 125-, 155-, and 185-pound person respectively. Meanwhile, stationary cycling at a moderate intensity burns 210, 252 and 292 calories for a 125-, 155- and 185-pound person respectively.


Another factor to consider is the enjoyment level of your workout. Guaranteed, you'll burn calories using any of the two cardio equipment, but if you absolutely hate running on the treadmill, you likely won’t see results as quickly. Your sessions will become bothersome, shorter and more challenging to complete—and working out should be an enjoyable part of your day!  


In terms of versatility, the treadmill is the superior of the two. That's because there are a wide variety of workouts you can do with a treadmill. You can opt for a long, short, steady-state, interval, or intense training on a treadmill. You can increase the resistance to spice things up on a spin bike as well but ultimately, you’re still only spinning. The mere fact that you can walk or run on a treadmill is enough variety. When you add options like implementing an incline, you also open the door to a broader range of workouts and exercise, eliminating the room for boredom.

Cost and space

When it comes to space, spin bikes generally have a smaller footprint than treadmills and are more affordable. The price for a spin bike varies depending on the type and specifications. On average, a spin bike’s price ranges from about $200 - $2000.


Ascend spin bikes are compact, yet mighty, ranging from $399-$499. Check them out here. 


Treadmills, on the other hand, are generally more costly and consume more floor space. Although like spin bikes, the cost of a treadmill depends on the size, model and specifications. On average, treadmills cost around $500 - $3000. 


Ascend treadmills are built for performance, ranging from $549-$1199. Check them out here. 


Floor stability is another factor you may want to note when choosing between a spin bike or treadmill. For example, you’ll need to ensure your floor is stable enough to hold a larger treadmill and the impact of running on it—especially if you don’t live on the ground floor.

Risk of injury

Not all exercise equipment is created equal. Some expose you to more injuries than others. If you compare which of the two exposes you to lesser injury risks, it's best to opt for spin bikes because they're generally safer than treadmills. That's because cycling is a low-impact exercise compared to the high-impact exercise of treadmill running. Additionally, there’s a risk of falling off treadmills during intense treadmill workouts.

Ready to get moving?

Now that you've seen how spin bikes and treadmills compare, it's time to make a purchasing decision. Before deciding, it's crucial to spend time mapping out the criteria most important to you.


Both are good options for incorporating some cardio into your fitness routine. In the end, it comes down to your fitness level, limitations, what you enjoy and what you’ll use long-term. Ascend spin bikes and treadmills are a great jumping off point if you’re looking to add a cardio machine to your home. Both are built for performance, and are compact, yet high-quality. Shop today to get started on your cardio fitness journey. 

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

With over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry, Justin has a rich background ranging from personal training in bustling gyms to practicing massage therapy in health centers, and eventually running his own practice. An avid advocate for self-improvement, he tirelessly pursues the latest research to broaden his knowledge of human physiology and the body's potential. When he isn't enriching his understanding or assisting clients, Justin can be found embracing the great outdoors through paddle boarding, yoga, and hiking, or immersing himself in a challenging workout. His passion transcends personal growth, as he's equally committed to inspiring others on their own journey of self-improvement.



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