Treadmill vs Elliptical vs Bike vs Stairmaster – Which gives more holistic training?

Technology has transformed training machines which effectively, over time make your body stronger and get toned. When selecting your training unit, which equipment between the elliptical,treadmill, bike, and StairMasteris holistic?

Max is my name and training and fitness is my main game. Ha!

It has been 5 years since I opened the doors to my fitness center here in New Jersey. The journey has been quite graceful so far and I think it because of my history as a trainer.

So, when a friend of mine who lives in Atlanta asked me to help him figure out the best training equipment for his new home gym, I was more than happy to help.

I’ll leave my summary here for anyone else who is curious about the same subject.

Which fitness goal does treadmill, bike, elliptical and StairMasterhandle better?

Fitness Goal
Best Equipment
Stronger Leg Muscles
Building Abs
Physical Strength
Least risk and danger
With terminal Illness
With muscle or joint injury
VO2 Intake
Calories Burned
Elliptical at 680 calories
Cardio Workout

How the Elliptical, Treadmill, Bike and StairMasterDiffer

Muscles Worked 

When strength training, you have to work against resistance and this repetitive and forceful action develops and tones your muscles.

While running on the treadmill, there is no resistance and the only weight is your body. Running highly impacts the knees, joints and muscles like your glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

If you have a goal to lose weight, you should get on the treadmill but if you are interested in toning, avoid it all costs because it causes great muscle waste.

Your quads and hamstrings get stronger every time you hop on the bike. It is an ideal toning and strengthening training because it focuses on the lower body.

On the elliptical, you get a full body workout because of the movable handlebars which require you to pull on as you keep pedaling. This motion increases the resistance as your energy increases. Your chest, back, quads, core, arms, hamstrings will get a worthy stretch.

The StairMaster requires you to keep balance as you engage your legs in the climbing motion. It will strengthen and tone your core muscles, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and calves.

The most holistic training alternative between the four units is the elliptical because you get a full body stretch, tone and strengthening effect when you get on it.

Joint Impact

Different equipment requirespecific techniques or body posture. Those training types that don’t require your feet to be reverberating on the training surface areknown as low impact exercises.

For high impact exercises, these require you to use your body weight against a surface or training equipment. They are beneficial in strengthening bones but also detrimental to your muscle, joint and muscle health.

The bike is also a high-impactexercise equipment and due to the knee jerk motions made as you pedal quickly especially while standing will irritate an injured or ailing knee.

The same could be said for the StairMaster because though it does strengthen you, there is a bigger risk to further hurt your knees with too much movement and weight.

 Ellipticals are best for minimizing joint impact or muscle pain. The strapped pedals help the user keep a sure footing which then reduces the stress of accelerating.

Calories Burned 

While running on the treadmill, an individual with 130 pounds running for an hour at a 5mph pace, will lose about 578 calories and if you weigh 200 pounds, you will burn about 1080 calories.

If the same two individuals decide to go cycling instead and at a 12-mph pace, the one weighing 130 pounds will lose about 500 calories compared to the one weighing 200 pounds who will lose about 800 calories per hour.

On the StairMaster, you can expect to burn up to 420 calories per hour. Calories are burned when you exert pressure on your muscles, joints, and limbs to move training equipment. To burn the most calories within a workout session, you need to get all muscles engaged and flexing them hard. The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn.

The elliptical is the only training equipment that engages upper and lower limbs and this why training on it could help you burn more calories than the other three. If you weigh about 155 pounds and you choose to workout on the elliptical at a moderate intensity, you could burn up to 680 calories every hour.

With all four equipment, you can get some calories shredded but to get the most out of your workout, you must maintain the right posture, speed, and accuracy in the movement to keep you from injury or strain. 


Having a versatile piece of training equipment in your home is one of the best luxuries you can afford yourself. There is no use buying a unit you never use so the more you can do on it, the more you will find use for it.

The treadmill only allows you to run, jog, or walk on plain or inclined plane in the simulation of uphill climbs. Most of these machines have heart rate monitors that will display your vital information that is gotten from the chest strap you have to wear. Treadmills give great cardio and if done consistently right, increase bone strength in the hips, legs, and spine.

Stationary bikes are versatile in their training intensity and they also cater to cardio workouts. The idea that you can pedal while standing upright on your bike is awesome for most of us.

This is because you give your bum and back a break while working other muscles that are inaccessible while seated.

StairMaster with its rotating steps gives the user a climbing experience which is easy on their knees and helps release feel-good hormones that are an instant mood pick-me-up. Some of these equipment have an in-built screen that mimics you walking up the world’s coolest destinations.

In this factor, the elliptical unit wins again. The elliptical gives you the ability to go backward and forwards either on a flat, shallow, or steep incline. You are also able to adjust the level of resistance which gives your body new, exciting, and challenging frontiers to conquer.


What duration of timeis enough toget more out of the elliptical?

Approximately, thirty to sixty minutes is ideal if you are able to train on your elliptical about four days out of your busy schedule. This is the most effective routine you can follow.

For beginners, you need to limit your daily workout time to a maximum of 30 minutes and then take the rest of the day off. Maybe you could try getting on the bike if you still have some energy to expel but remember that rest is as important as the workout.

With the right diet, combining training techniques or equipment is the surest way to get your fitness goals a little faster.

Verdict: So, which is better, Treadmill, Elliptical, Bike or StairMaster?

According to this summary, the most holistic training option out of the four suggestions is the Elliptical. It is not only versatile but it is also the only equipment that can work out both the upper and lower body.