We spend a lot of time seated in our adult life. About 8 hours at work and many more hours at home. Even moving between the two places entails long hours of sitting in your car or other transport means. This leads to problems with your health as you’ll be burning very few calories between these periods.
One way to deal with a hectic schedule is to use either a desk bike or elliptical machine right under your desk. The two have been proven to be quite effective at burning calories when you’re still seated. While quite similar, they have a few differences between them as well. In our expert reviews, the answer to which one is better is highly subjective. However, the bikes slightly edge the elliptical machines.
If you’re not constrained by your budget and you don’t have any medical issues, getting the best machine shouldn’t be an issue. With these small workout machines enabling people to burn up to 300 calories a day, getting one should be a priority if you can’t get time to visit your gym or work out from your home. The good news is that they don’t cost a fortune.
The aspects setting them apart include the following:
1. Way of Workout
While both machines work on the legs, the way you work out differs significantly between them. In an under desk bike (and all bikes with pedals), your legs will be moving up and down in a circular motion. If you’ve ridden a bicycle before, you know exactly what this means.
On the other hand, the leg movements for the under desk elliptical (and other elliptical machines) is backwards and forwards. It’s like shuffling your feet back and forth.
Clearly, the difference in the direction of movements will lead to the workout of different muscles on the legs. Also, the range of motion for the feet will be different. The likelihood is that you’ll get tired faster with the elliptical given the motions needed.
2. Desk Clearance Needed
The differences in motion translate to the amount of space you’ll need for each machine. While they’re both meant to be comfortable under a standard desk, being taller (or having longer legs) may disadvantage you when it comes to using the bike.
As you sit with your feet making 90-degree angles at the knees, moving up and down for the bike can easily make you knock your knees on the under side of your desk if there’s not enough space. With the elliptical machine, however, the knees remain almost the same level all through thus allowing you work out without tampering with the desk.
3. Feet Size Accommodations
The under desk bike requires that you insert your feet into the pedals. It’s an important consideration that you buy a bike whose pedals can accommodate your feet if you have larger than average feet. You can, however, overcome this issue by simply placing your feet on the pedals rather than inserting them in the loops.
The elliptical machine has considerably larger pedals which can accommodate any size of the feet. The pedals are to be stepped on and moved backwards and forwards. As such, they’ve been created to have small barriers at the front and the back to keep your feet in line.
4. Uses Beyond the Legs
While both machines are sold with a focus on the legs, only the elliptical machine sticks to this role.
While the elliptical machine will limit you to working out your legs alone, the under desk bike can be moved to a table, bench or the same desk and used to work out the upper body. You will have to place your hands on the pedals then pedal away like you do with your legs.
The fact that you can change the difficulty of the pedaling makes the bike great for working out the upper body. The pedaling motions don’t just work the arms but the upper body as a whole. It’s thus a more dynamic machine compared to the elliptical.
5. Number of Adjustments
While the under desk bike outdoes the under desk elliptical machine by offering more ways to work the whole body besides the legs, the elliptical does the bike one better by offering more ways to work the legs.
With the elliptical, you can target many different muscles in your legs. You simply need to change the position of your feet on the pedals to obtain the result desired. You can use the heels, the toe section, and the flat-footed position for the needed results. These positions are great when you’re recovering from an injury and you need to work out your legs.
You can also vary the difficulty to go with the level of fitness you need. It’s especially important when healing a joint and you’re taking it through various stages in the healing process.
The two workout machines share the following similarities:
1. Primary Purpose
Both machines are meant to help you work out and burn calories when you’re at your desk. There’s no machine (of the two) that does that better than the other. In fact, if both are set at the same settings and used at the same intensity by the same person for the same period of time, you’ll burn an equal number of calories.
Of note is the fact that both machines work the same muscles of your body (which are mainly found in the legs and lower body).
The under desk bikes and elliptical machines also share the same size. They’re both about 10 inches tall which is a very minimal size. Compared to their gym versions, under desk workout machines are almost a 10th of the size.
Their sizes are meant to allow you move your legs up, down, back and forth within the limited space under your desk. Most of them have a flat profile with bikes being a bit taller given the circular motions of the feet which require a bit more space to perform.
Being made of the same materials, the bikes and elliptical machines weigh almost the same. Most are about 20lbs which is a very manageable weight for carrying around when you need to move it from home to work and back.
Even better, some don’t need to be carried around much as they come with locks like those found on laptops in a shop. You can thus lock it under your desk and just come, workout as you work and leave it there as you head home.
Their minimalistic profiles makes them easy to carry around as well.
The features are also shared between the two machines. Besides being generally meant for working out, features such as increasing the resistance are common among them. You also get a very quiet machine that won’t elicit frowns from your workmates as you keep yourself healthy. In fact, these machines are so quiet that the only time you’ll hear a sound from them is when you’re changing settings. And even that will be very low.
Another common feature between them is the ability to choose the options you need. As you spend more, you get more features and better quality options for both of them.
Lastly, you’ll burn about the same calories no matter the machine you decide to go with. While manufacturers promise about 300 calories a day, most people will hover around 100 calories a day at moderate speeds.
For similar quality and features, the machines also cost just about the same. Amazon reviews reveal that they cost about $200 for the good ones. Whether you’ve chosen the bike or elliptical, the budget shouldn’t be an issue as you’ll spend almost exactly what someone buying the other option spends.
This aspect makes it easy to choose between the two machines as prices are among the most important considerations for buyers.
These machines basically come out at a draw. Even the major differences between them even out. For example, while the bike can be used to work out the upper body as well as the legs, the fact that it needs more desk clearance and can be limiting when it comes to the feet fitting into the pedal straps.
In our reviews, however, the most significant difference comes in the form of the ability to put the bike to other purposes beyond the feet. This will allow you work out both your lower and upper body without the need to get a second machine. It’s also a way to save money and time especially if you spend a lot of time at your desk. You can sneak in an upper body workout during the lunch break and revert to your feet as the afternoon session resumes.
In general, it’s your personal opinion that decides which one to get for yourself.