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Swimming vs. Elliptical Bike Exercise

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Jeff

Swimming vs. Elliptical

Choosing between different sports and exercise types that your gym can offer isn’t an easy choice. Each and every sport will definitely benefit you, but in a different way from its sibling. So, today, we’ll highlight the differences and similarities and figure out which one will help you better; swimming or elliptical training.

Which Is Better? 

Subtypes of Exercise calories burned elliptical vs swimming

Having many subtypes of exercise under one sport or one machine reflects on the level of flexibility of this exercise. The more subtypes you have, the more free you’ll feel. You’ll find that every subtype will work on specific muscles, enhancing them and toning your body in a certain way, creating the image you’re going for.

With swimming, we have five main subtypes; the freestyle, the breaststroke, the butterfly, the backstroke, and the sidestroke. Each one of them is used on specific occasions.

On the other side of the spectrum, the elliptical has two subtypes. You can either move forwards or backward. When you go backward, you incorporate your hamstrings more thoroughly. 

The thing about the elliptical is that you can choose to either work only your legs or add your arms into the mixture. Plus, you can do some interval training elliptical for maximum gain.

Winner: Swimming

Muscle Groups

According to which subtype of swimming you choose to practice, you’ll be working particular muscle groups. In general, swimming works on the entire body, but in different proportions. 

So, you’ll find that arm strokes will work your upper back muscles, shoulder muscles, and the deltoid, while pushing yourself forward using your arms will work on all of the extensors and flexors of the forearm.

Moreover, swimming needs your body to be tight in certain positions all the time. That’ll tighten your core, lower back, and lower limb muscles, specifically your hamstrings and glutes. Accordingly, this is your entire body being exercised almost at the same time. 

As for the elliptical, almost the very same can be said about it as it does exercise your entire body. It incorporates your upper back, lower back, and core muscles if you tighten them enough. Add to that your hamstrings, quads, chest, and arm muscles.

Winner: Tie

Calories Burntswimming vs. elliptical for weight loss

In essence, both of these exercises are fantastic ways of burning calories. They both pump your heart rate quite fast and work on all of your body, hitting all of the fat stores that we normally want to rid ourselves of.

Still, to clarify things more, we’ll provide you with an example of burned calories for each sport. If there’s a 155-lb person who goes through an hour of uninterrupted swimming laps, they’ll end up burning 446 calories. If they choose to forgo the pool and jump on the elliptical for the same hour of uninterrupted exercise, they’ll burn around 670 calories. 

Winner: Elliptical


Having a lot of variables in your exercise can be a blessing and a curse. They certainly give you a higher level of challenge and much control over how your workout will be. Nonetheless, when you have variables, you need to study them to know how you can tailor them to benefit yourself, as you can easily do the exact opposite and cause harm.

With swimming, you have almost no variables. Stretch, get in the pool, get your labs in, and get out. You do have the distance you’re going to go and the type of stroke you’re going to use, but these are mostly decided by your trainer.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the elliptical, which comes with handles that you might choose to use or neglect, a resistance knob that you’d have to set and continuously increase, and an incline. You’ll have to adjust all of the previous to up your game.

Winner: Elliptical

Availability swimming vs elliptical calories burned

It’s a known fact that anyone who’s trying to work out in the morning, perhaps even before their job or classes, would want to train somewhere that’s close and without much fuss. So, the availability of all aspects of your workout is essential here!

Mostly, the thing about swimming is that not all gyms or compounds have a swimming pool unless, of course, you have your own swimming pool. But, generally speaking, it’s not the easiest thing to access, specifically in the winter months.

As for ellipticals, it’s the exact opposite scenario, which is why so many people go for training machines in general rather than swimming. You enter any gym, anywhere, and you’re sure to find an elliptical waiting for you to use it. 

You can even purchase your own elliptical and have it in your house to use whenever you want. Building a pool isn’t as much of an easy decision. 

Lastly, there are so many models and varieties of elliptical machines. You can go for an elliptical machine with seat, or a dual trainer elliptical. You can also learn more about ellipticals through this Proform Endurance 520E Elliptical review, and you can check our top recommendation, the NordicTrack FS7i, to get a better picture.

Winner: Elliptical


There are so many workouts that can easily cause trauma to your bones and joints, which is definitely something that everyone would want to steer clear of. Plus, if you’re already recovering from an injury, then you’re never advised to pursue one of these sports during recovery.

Both elliptical training and swimming are considered to be non-traumatic exercises, as long as you’re taking things slow and easy, of course. Yet, they’ll help you build up your muscle bulk without causing damage to your body as it’s healing.

Winner: Tie

Learning Curve calories burned swimming vs elliptical

It takes time to learn how to swim, and so many individuals are scared of the water. They don’t like getting into the pool; it simply frightens them, so it’ll take even longer for them to get used to the idea of being in the water and then start to learn how to swim correctly. Hence, there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to swimming, and it takes time. 

On the other hand, there is no learning curve for ellipticals; it’s kind of like biking, and the controls are easy to understand since there are only two of them.

Also, we don’t think it’s possible for anyone to be scared of ellipticals; you might not like them; but, you can hardly be afraid of a machine. One that generally doesn’t even have power connected to it.

Winner: Elliptical

Swimming vs. Elliptical: The Endgame 

At the end of the day, both swimming and elliptical training are excellent exercises. They’re both fun, they work your entire body, and they’re non-traumatic. Still, you must be careful with any sport that you choose to practice. 

Make sure that you know all of its aspects. If you’re swimming, make sure that there’s a lifeguard close to you and that you’re appropriately attired.

As for the elliptical, make sure that it’s stable, that it doesn’t make any funny noises, and that you’re going at an adequate pace so as to not harm yourself.