Indoor Cycle vs. Stationary Bike Calories (Everything You Need to Know!)

It is not surprising that cycling is among the most effective and accessible ways of staying fit, as it helps you burn calories and increase your stamina and fitness. It also has other benefits, such as boosting your blood flow and increasing your heart rate and can provide a low-impact form of exercise for many people that might not be able to handle high-intensity exercises, such as pregnant women and the elderly.

If you are starting a workout program though, especially in cycling, a certain question starts popping up – will there be a significant impact if you choose to go for an indoor cycling bike, or will there be less impact if you go for a stationary bike? Bikes are of different kinds, and it is important to know the differences so that you know what you are getting out of them, as well as whether they are important for your overall fitness progress.

In this article, we will look at both stationary and indoor cycling bikes, and you can make an informed choice on which one is superior for you.

Comparison table

Indoor Cycle
Stationary bike
Primary usage
Indoor cycling
Regular cycling
Risk of injuries
Ease of usage
Calorie burning rate
The muscles worked
Hamstrings, glutes, core, quad, triceps, biceps, back, shoulders, calves
Calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes
Progression model
Increases resistance, speed or stand
Increases resistance or speed
Is a console present?

Breakdown of the comparisons

Primary use

Both of these are bikes, but they differ in their primary purpose. For one, stationary bikes are meant to assist in a generalized fitness and health program, so they are more versatile in their use. Anyone can use them, as long as they are willing to boost their cardiovascular fitness levels, see improved results from their weight loss efforts, and build muscle strength.

On the other hand, an indoor cycling bike tends to be more specialist and is used in an indoor cycling group fitness class. The usual case is that professional cyclists will use them more often. This is because they can mimic the body position on a regular bike much better than a stationary bike because the handlebars are lower – so you hunch more when you use them.

If you happen to be a cyclist and want to train indoors, there are bigger transfer-over benefits if you use indoor cycling bikes.

Risk of injury

When you are looking at the risk of injuries, it is important to look at the setup of the bike itself. The stationary bike actually has a higher injury risk compared to the indoor cycling bike, as surprising as that sounds. This is because the flywheel in an indoor cycling bike is much easier to handle, so it can maintain a constant motion of the bike itself, which makes it less impactful on your joints.

With that in mind, indoor cycling at a very high speed and doing it while standing will increase your injury risk, so you also need to account for this. If you are only sitting and indoor cycling, then the injury risks are low – however, you might suffer from back pain, since you are mostly hunched over when cycling (unless you adjust the seat and handlebars).

Ease of usage

Both of these bikes are quite easy to use and get used to because all you need is hopping on them and begin cycling. If you have ridden a bike before, you will have little to no issues transitioning to their use.

While an upright bike feels slightly different compared to a traditional bike, the difference is not significant enough to force issues on you when you are doing your workout, so you will adjust quickly.

Progression model

This is quite similar in both bike types. They all have the ability to increase the resistance levels, which makes the exercise harder to finish and builds your fitness and strength by forcing you to work harder. The harder your muscles work, the more your heart works, so it will ultimately increase your cardiovascular fitness. They also both allow you to cycle faster, so you can do so on any machine if that is your ultimate goal.

The difference comes in because the indoor cycling bikes allow you to cycle while standing, which stationary bikes do not (otherwise, your body will be in an awkward position if you stand on them), so you need to consider if you want to incorporate standing or not.

The muscles they work

Both of these bikes work similar muscle groups unless you are standing up on the indoor cycle bike. For regular biking, you are working the calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes, as well as the core (to a small extent) as it helps you stay balanced.

However, when you are standing, you are placing greater stress on the muscles of the lower body, and that forces you to work other areas such as the calves, back, core, arms and shoulders, all to a greater extent. Standing while cycling is a more involving body workout, so it is important to consider this.

If you want to work all these areas, even if you are not doing other exercise routines, it is better to buy an indoor exercise bike.

Calorie burning

This is another important factor to consider when you are debating on what choice to make. Keep in mind that indoor cycling bikes will make you burn more calories since you are incorporating more muscle groups into the exercise (that is if you are standing) and that you are also using more energy to maintain the motion of the flywheel.

In the indoor cycling bike, the flywheels are heavier, so you are using more energy to maintain their motion for every rep.

In a seated position though, there is not much difference in calorie burn, so you can go with whatever bike works for you.


Indoor cycling bikes do not have a console that shows you various metrics such as your calorie burn, the distance you have cycled, and so on. If these metrics are important to you, consider going for the stationary bike.

Final thoughts

It can be challenging to choose between the indoor cycle and stationary bikes, but it is important to consider which one is more comfortable for you, how you plan to use them, and likely try a few machines to figure it out if you are unsure.