Indoor Cycling Vs Running

No matter whether you are starting your fitness journey or you’re looking to add some variation to your workout regime, one thing you need to consider is what sort of cardio you are going to get involved in. There are plenty of options out there, but two of the main ones are running and indoor cycling.

Both provide an effective workout, but which is better?

Below, we will provide you with a detailed analysis so you can figure out whether you should add indoor cycling or running to your workout.

Providing an Effective Cardio Workout


If you are looking for the best cardio workout, the good news is that both indoor cycling and running are great options. No matter whether you opt for indoor our outdoor cycling, you will benefit from a great workout that is going to help you to enhance your cardiovascular fitness level.

Therefore, often, it comes down to the activity that people enjoy the most. If you feel more comfortable indoor cycling, you will be more inclined to go down this route. So long as you are pushing yourself and adopting the correct form while you are working out, you should see results irrespective of whether you opt for running or you decide to do an indoor cycling workout.

Of course, there are other factors to keep in mind, though, and we will cover all of them below.

Difference In Calories Burned?

Calories Burned Spinning

When choosing any type of cardio workout, one thing that everyone wants to know is how many calories they are going to be able to burn. If you were to go on the treadmill for half-an-hour, and you were to run at a speed of around six-miles per hour, you would burn approximately 350 calories if you were to weigh 155lb.

Of course, the amount of calories you do burn will depend on your weight, age, the speed you travel, and your level of fitness. This is important!

However, we will compare a 155lb adult in both cases to give a like-for-like comparison.

An adult of the same weight would burn anywhere from 400 and 600 calories while indoor cycling. If you were to simply go at a steady pace, this would reduce to around 260 calories.

However, if you attack your indoor cycling class with the right approach and attitude, you could burn as many as 600 calories. Increasing the speed and intensity of your workout will, of course, lead to more calories being burned.

If you purchase an indoor bike for your home, you will find plenty of different indoor cycling classes online that you can attend live or watch on record. 

The key with indoor cycling is that it is highly efficient. A typical 40-minute class with a cadence of 80 to 110 RPM is comparable to doing between 15 and 20 miles on the road. Due to the environment, you are likely to burn much more calories when indoor cycling.

However, you can ramp up the calories burned by combining both workouts within the session. A lot of fitness enthusiasts also recommend using intervals in your treadmill training to ramp up the calories burned.

Strength Improvements

While both of these workout options are great in terms of cardio, there is one that is better than the other when it comes to the strength department, and this is indoor cycling.

When you are indoor cycling, you will be able to add a greater level of resistance than you are able to when running. This means that you will see improved benefits when it comes to strengthening your lower body. 

When you are running, you do have the option of running uphill, whether you are out and about or you adjust the setting on your treadmill.

Nevertheless, you will not see a level of resistance that comes close to the resistance that you get while you are on an indoor bike. Therefore, this is one area whereby running certainly falls short in comparison to indoor bikes.

Looking After Your Body

As we get older, we also need to think about what sort of exercises and routines are going to be kinder to our bodies. For example, you will find that indoor cycling is a lot more gentle on the joints.

If you are someone who is prone to experiencing knee, hip, or ankle pain, you will find that running on a treadmill can cause a lot of stress being placed on these areas of the body. The pressure will also increase by a huge amount if you are landing heel first.

It is always critical to make sure you are landing with your forefoot first, then rolling your sole so that you are following through with your heel. This will make sure that you do not end up suffering from any severe joint injuries, which could easily happen if you do not have the correct form.

This is one of the reasons why indoor cycling is considered a better option, as such pressure is not placed on the joints, and so you do not have to worry about anything like this with regard to the lower half of your body. 

However, one thing you do need to be mindful of when it comes to any type of cycling is your posture. Cycling can be bad for your posture. You can end up suffering from aches in your back and getting very tight hips because of the stance that you need to be in, as well as your quadriceps being activated – these are the muscles at the front of your legs.

It is imperative to ensure that you keep a natural spine, rather than arching or curving the lower back, as this is vital for maintaining a healthy and strong spine. It is also advisable to make sure you always stretch your legs out after every session.

Building Muscle

Building Leg Muscles on Spin Bike

If you are looking to build muscle on your legs, indoor cycling is a great solution. A lot of people who regularly compete in bike races have large calf and thigh muscles.

This makes it ideal for anyone to improve the aesthetics of their lower body, no matter whether you are a beginner or a professional athlete.

Programming Abilities On The Treadmill & Indoor Bike

This is another factor that you will probably want to consider when you are choosing between both exercise options. This is especially the case if you are someone who struggles for motivation because you easily get bored with your workouts.

If you have a piece of equipment that comes with different programming options, you can switch up your workouts every day, and this can help you to stay engaged with your exercise routines.

After all, if you get on the machine and you do the same thing each and every day, it is only natural that you are going to end up becoming bored, and this could result in you falling off-track in terms of your fitness goals. Therefore, having the ability to do different programs does make a massive difference. 

The truth is that there are so many different treadmills and indoor bikes available today, and so the customization options really do depend on the type of machine that you go for.

The most basic bikes and treadmills will only really enable you to alter the resistance levels and the speed. However, if you go for one of the more advanced models, you will be able to change many different elements and you can mirror lots of environments and settings to give your workouts more variations.

It is also worth pointing out that there are lots of different workouts that have been designed for indoor bikes and treadmills, which will give you the ability to try out different exercise regimes and workouts while you are on the equipment.

There are subscription sites for this such Aaptiv (an awesome fitness app, check out my review of it here!). Or you can use the likes of YouTube to hunt down exercise videos.

Which Equipment Is Easier To Use?

Last but not least, you will want to consider whether the treadmill or the indoor bike is easier to use. There’s not much of a difference here. If you know how to ride a bike, you will find using an indoor bike easy.

Using a treadmill is the same as walking. Of course, we do not usually work with a moving belt beneath us, so this can take a little bit of getting used to, but it is something you should be able to adjust to with considerable ease.


To conclude, there is little getting away from the fact that both running and indoor cycling are great for your health. It does not have to be a case of one or the other. You can always keep things varied by adding both running and indoor cycling to your workout regime.

However, there is no denying that indoor cycling is a more efficient workout, meaning you will burn more calories in a shorter space of time. Therefore, if indoor cycling is not part of your current regime, it is certainly something that you should be thinking about adding.

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