Spinning Vs. Running – Which Is Superior?
If you are on the hunt for a good workout program to help get you in the best shape of your life, one question you may be asking yourself is which is superior: spinning vs. running?
Is one going to yield better results than the other or are they about equal?
This is a complex question and the answer is that it depends. Lots of factors go into dictating the types of results you will see from either of these, so taking a good look at all these factors will help you make an informed decision.
Let’s go over what you need to know.
Spinning Vs. Running: Cardio Improvements
The first thing you need to think about is the cardio improvements that you’ll see. Since these are, first and foremost, cardio activities, the primary reason you are likely doing them is to improve your cardiovascular fitness level.
So which wins out? Spinning or running? The great news here is that both are going to offer excellent improvements in this area. You can do either – whichever one you feel most comfortable with is the one that will likely give you the most benefits.
If you can push yourself a lot harder on the treadmill vs. the spin bike for example, you will see greater fitness improvements on it instead and vice versa. But both machines have the same general capacity to improve your fitness level as you wish.
Spinning Or Running: Strength Improvements
Another factor of fitness – strength – is something to consider. Is one machine going to make you stronger than the other?
Here the answer does tend to favor spinning. With spinning, you can add more resistance than you can with running, so you will get lower body strengthening benefits.
With running, while you can run uphill, you aren’t going to see nearly the same level of resistance as you would with a spin bike. Therefore, this one falls short in this regard.
If you are looking for strength training, you’ll want to lean towards cycling. This said, if you are doing a strength training routine outside of your cardio training, this likely isn’t that important of a factor for you because you’ll be reaping those benefits there.
Everyone should be doing some form of strength training exercises so if it’s not with weight lifting or resistance band training, make it your cardio training.
Calories Burned Spinning Vs. Running
Perhaps one of the most important factors that people will consider is the number of calories burned with the two forms of exercise. Since weight loss is the primary goal on most people’s minds, you want a cardio activity that is going to enhance your weight loss results.
So which wins this race? Running or spinning?
Just like with the issue of cardio improvements, this one is really going to come down to how hard you are working during the exercise itself. The harder you’re working, the more calories you will burn. If you are able to just jog on the treadmill but on the spinning bike, you can go full speed ahead, really maximizing your overall intensity, that is going to be the method of exercise that brings you the best results – hands down.
Alternatively, if you find that your quads tire out on the bike but you can run for days, well then running is likely going to get you burning more calories.
Running does have a slight edge on burning more calories at the same given intensity level because you are standing rather than sitting (therefore, slightly more muscles will be at play to keep you balanced), this difference is minimal.
The greater impact on your decision should always be on which machine you can personally work the hardest. That will tell you which direction you need to go.
Spin Bike Vs. Treadmill: Programming Abilities
If you are someone who often finds yourself bored with your workouts, you’ll want to consider which of the two modes of cardio offers better overall programming abilities.
If you are getting on the machine and doing the exact same thing day after day after day, it’s only going to be so long before you become bored and fall off the bandwagon entirely.
So having the ability to do different programs might be very important to you. Here, the treadmill does win out.
With the spin bike, your only real option is to spin at different intensity levels or speeds. It is spinning no matter how you look at it.
With the treadmill however, you can walk, jog, run, go on a flat surface or go on an incline, so that’s a lot more variation in programming options.
One day you may choose to uphill walk at a high speed and the next day, jog. This means two very different workouts using the same piece of equipment. So if you can only choose one piece of cardio equipment to buy and you want that variability in there, the treadmill is your better option.
Keep in mind too that even if you aren’t someone to get bored easily and could do the same workout over and over again, you shouldn’t do that. Changing it up is actually very good for your progression as well because it gives your body a new challenge – something to push it further.
When someone does the same workout many times in a row, they are leading themselves right into a progress plateau. If your body has already been able to complete that workout, doing it again gives it no reason to change. It now instead just needs to maintain the status quo.
So for this reason, some may find the treadmill more appealing. Do keep in mind though that if you have any experience with exercise programming, you really should be able to do sufficient variety on the spin bike to avoid a plateau from setting in. It just takes a bit more creativity on your part.
Running Vs. Spinning: Ease Of Use
Another question that should you consider is which is easier to use? If you are new to fitness, is one going to be a lot easier to handle than another? This can make a big difference in how well you stick to a program and how often you workout.
Since most people have been walking since they were very young individuals, running does earn a slight edge above spinning for this reason. But, if you can ride a bike, you should have no trouble doing a spinning workout either.
It all comes down to doing whichever you enjoy because a greater interest in the exercise will typically mean that you perform the workout more often, thus leading to greater increases in comfort.
What we practice, we get better at. So choose whichever you want to practice the most (read: actually do the workouts!).
Spin Bike Vs. Treadmill: Injury Risk
Finally, the last of the factors that you’ll want to consider when choosing between spinning vs. running is the injury risk between these two activities. Injuries are hard to handle. You’re motivated, going strong, seeing great results, and then you wind up injured and everything comes to a halt.
Depending on the injury, you may still be able to exercise in reduced capacity, but chances are good you won’t be biking or running any more if that is what you were doing. You’ll be forced to choose another exercise altogether.
Overall, since biking is a non-impact form of exercise, it does definitely come with a lower injury risk potential.
With running, you’ll have to worry about injuries such as a rolled ankle, spin splints, sore knees, painful lower back problems, and hip flexor tears.
With cycling, the main injury you’ll need to watch out for is knee problems due to the continuous, repetitive motion that biking entails. Typically, if you are practicing proper balance with your workout and giving yourself enough time for rest and recovery between sessions and doing sufficient cross training activities, you should have no problem cycling for a long time injury free.
With the treadmill, if you are suffering from shin splints and can no longer run, you could always walk instead, possibly doing uphill walking to add more resistance and challenge to the exercise.
So there is that option for those who are in pain and are suffering.
But if a lower overall injury risk is what you’re after, you’ll want to focus on the spin bike over the treadmill as much as you can.
So there you have the need-to-know comparisons with regards to spinning vs. running. Put this into consideration but as always, really think about what you will enjoy. It cannot be stressed enough how important that factor is because when you enjoy your workouts, you are simply more likely to get them done and at the end of the day, that is going to be the single greatest factor that will dictate the success you see.