We know you’ve seen a wide variety of cardio machines in gyms and equipment stores. You might’ve even tried them once or twice, especially if you frequent a fitness studio.
However, you might still be unsure whether you should hop on a treadmill or an elliptical. After all, both machines have similar uses, and either may be ideal for your fitness needs.
You might be asking yourself, “Which of these two machines is best for my cardio exercise?“This treadmill vs. elliptical article will help you determine which piece of exercise equipment best fits your fitness routine.
Overview of the Elliptical
An elliptical machine is designed to be an ergonomic way to exercise. This is because it simulates and combines the natural movement of both running and stair climbing.
An elliptical workout entails having your feet planted firmly on the large pedals and moving in a constant circular or elliptical motion (hence the name). This allows you to undergo a lower-impact cardiovascular exercise.
This lack of ground impact makes it more friendly on your joints compared to treadmill running, which shocks your knees and hips every time your feet touch the belt.
Given the low-impact cardio workout, it’s safe and easy to use, especially if you’re recovering from an injury but want to maintain a fit body.
It allows you to build your skeletal muscles without causing injuries.
This makes the elliptical great for beginners or those who want to take it easy with their workouts while still being able to increase their cardio endurance and lower body strength.
Whether your goal is to burn fat or undergo constant strength training, ellipticals can be easily used by anyone, regardless of fitness level or background.
- Easy on the joints
- Maintain fitness after injury
- Full body workout
- Work on different muscles
- More affordable
- Learning curve
- Less muscle development
Overview of Treadmill
A treadmill is a more versatile cardio machine designed for brisk walking, jogging, or running indoors. Doctors even use it for physical therapy.
This piece of equipment uses a motorized and continuous looping belt that lets you do your walking indoors. You can also easily dial your workout’s exact speed and incline to customize your runs.
Most treadmills also include various programs to make it easier for you to reach your fitness goals. You’ll be able to adjust the machine’s program to suit your needs.
While the treadmill does provide a great workout for your lower body, it’s important to use it wisely. It can cause stress on your bones and joints, leading to arthritis or serious injury.
Since it primarily focuses on the lower body, you’d also have to balance it out with other workout programs to work on the upper body. Its ability to tone your arms and shoulders is quite lacking.
Whether on flat ground or an inclined hill, a treadmill will easily simulate that feeling you get when moving outdoors indoors and makes sure you’ll have those calories burned in no time.
- Excellent user control
- Develops leg and quadricep strength
- High customization
- HIIT ready
- More prone to injuries
- Fewer muscle groups targeted
- More expensive
Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Side-by-Side Comparison
Elliptical machines and treadmills are both well-known pieces of equipment for cardio workouts. However, you don’t have to use both to get a good aerobic workout.
Depending on your needs, there’s always a reason to choose one machine over the other.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of these machines to help you further understand the elliptical vs. treadmill debate.
Feature 1: Full-Body Workout
Using a treadmill means focusing more on a lower-body workout. Your upper body usually doesn’t do much for these workouts, which is one of the well-known treadmill cons.
On the other hand, ellipticals promote physical fitness by working on the upper and lower body through low-impact cardio. You can work everything from hip mobility to arms in a single fluid motion.
Your upper body is worked when you push or pull the handlebars. It encourages a full range of motion allowing your body to get a complete workout.
The movement of the handlebars also works according to the resistance levels of the machine. It helps push your upper and lower body to work together and grow simultaneously.
It thus helps work on more muscle groups compared to a treadmill. Most ellipticals are designed to have their pedals move forward and back to address many muscle groups simultaneously.
Feature 2: Burning Calories
Both the elliptical and treadmill are great for losing weight and burning body fat, especially if you pair them with a healthy diet. After all, calorie burn is also tied to the intensity and time spent on your workout.
Note: Calorie burn is effective when you burn more calories than you consume. You should not overexert yourself or over-fast to the point where you compromise your health status.
This means you’ll have way more calories burned if you perform a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) routine on an elliptical than a slow jog on a treadmill that lasts the same amount of time.
That said, treadmills burn calories faster compared to an elliptical. This is because you have to pick up your feet during treadmill workouts. You have more energy expenditure than when your feet are planted on elliptical pedals.
This is because the treadmill mimics walking, hiking, or running outdoors, movements that the body understands and has to work harder to perform than elliptical movements.
Calorie burning will depend on how you perform your workout. The fastest way to burn calories is to perform high-impact exercise on a treadmill.
Feature 3: Movement and Impact
Treadmills offer varying degrees of impact, depending on your activity and speed. Walking is usually considered low-impact, while running is considered high-impact.
Adjusting your treadmill’s incline can also add to your workout’s leg impact, adding a layer of challenge and variety to your workouts.
On the other hand, ellipticals always offer a low-impact workout, no matter your speed. While you can adjust the resistance, it’s still considered low-impact by most people.
However, they also require more movement, focusing on the whole body composition rather than just half.
While a treadmill workout can offer a variety of ground impact types, the additional movement from ellipticals makes for a good cardiovascular workout.
These features allow an elliptical to provide a fuller workout than a treadmill without grinding your joints down.
How Safe Are Elliptical and Treadmill Machines?
Generally, these machines are safe if you follow their safety guidelines, especially when you don’t always have personal trainers around to guide you.
Since all workout equipment has restrictions, it’s best to consider these when looking for the best elliptical machines or treadmills. Know how and how not to use your machines.
Knowing when to stop is also important while you’re working out, especially when you start feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
Keep yourself hydrated while you exercise to avoid getting dehydrated or losing consciousness.
That said, given the differences in structure, these machines also have specific safety guidelines for their use.
Safety for an Elliptical Machine Workout
Even though elliptical training is a low-impact exercise, it still comes with risks, especially if you’re not using it correctly.
Try using the machine without the swinging arm handles first. It will help you better adjust to the movement of the elliptical. The slightly awkward motion of the ellipticals can be a reason for injury and accidents on the machine.
Once you have the movements down, you can add the handles and slowly move to more complicated routines.
The key to using an elliptical machine is good form. Keep your posture upright and a tight core while using the machine. It will help keep your balance and make the right muscle groups work while you exercise.
If you’re using an elliptical machine in a gym, it’s best to ask a certified personal trainer for help. Most elliptical trainers are eager to demonstrate it to people to help them understand.
Safety for a Treadmill Workout
When using a treadmill, always remember to attach the safety clip to the clothes you’re wearing. This ensures that the treadmill will stop if you fall over or trip.
Treadmill workouts also tend to be more strenuous. It’s important to warm up before and cool down after a workout. These practices will reduce stress on your bones and joints.
Stretching before and after should also help your body prepare for the workout routine and recovery process.
These will also help lessen the chances of injury and pain in your muscles and bones.
You may have more questions regarding ellipticals and treadmills.
We’ve gathered the commonly asked questions about these types of fitness equipment to help you with your research.
Will I Lose Weight on Both the Elliptical and Treadmill?
Yes, you can lose weight on both the elliptical and the treadmill.
Weight loss on these devices would depend on the time and intensity of your routine. It may take less time to lose a decent amount of weight when you use a treadmill than an elliptical, provided you work harder.
Combining a proper diet with your active lifestyle would be best to achieve healthy weight loss. You’ll have to consider many factors if you have a specific body weight in mind.
Is a Mile on an Elliptical the Same as a Mile on a Treadmill?
No, they’re not the same.
Comparing a mile on an elliptical versus running on a treadmill workout would be like comparing elliptical training to actual running.
Treadmills mimic our running outdoors, making the motions natural without the need to go out and brave the elements.
Ellipticals, on the other hand, have a shorter stride compared to normal walking or running. You would need more strides to reach a mile on an elliptical.
Usually, you can easily track distances and other statistics using the machines’ system or with an additional device to inform you of how far you’ve gone or the effort it took to get there.
How Long Should You Stay on an Elliptical?
If you’re using an elliptical for strength training, it’s recommended to use the machine for 5 to 20 minutes.
However, to maximize the cardio benefits of an elliptical, it’s recommended to use the machine for 15 minutes to 1 hour per session.
If you’re using it to reduce weight, you can use the elliptical for 30 minutes of HIIT or 60 minutes of steady-state cardio per day.
It’s advisable to exercise 5 times a week. Balancing it with a proper diet and other types of exercise will help you stay strong and energized, especially with the more tiring workouts.
There are many good elliptical workouts you can try out. They’re guaranteed to help you achieve your goals.
How Long Should You Stay on a Treadmill?
For a beginner with no prior experience in jogging, starting with a slow jog for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a week can help.
Then, slowly increase your usage and add challenges like incline or speed increases every other week or so.
Doing 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intensive aerobics per week is recommended.
A brisk walk or jog on a treadmill 3 to 4 times a week is the best way to maximize the benefits of treadmills. Spending 30 to 45 minutes each session will help maintain a healthy body.
Many built-in programs for the treadmill can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Conclusion/Final Verdict: Which Is Better?
Both the treadmill and the elliptical are excellent, especially when you’re going for an effective cardio workout. However, both machines have their pros and cons.
When choosing between a treadmill vs. elliptical trainer, these are the things you can consider.
Choose the Elliptical If:
- You want to work both your upper and lower body.
- You need to reduce the risk of injury while you’re working out.
- You don’t want to put too much stress on your bones and joints.
You want to save money and space (if you’re planning to purchase a machine).
Choose the Treadmill If:
- You’re not prone to injuries or joint pain.
- You want to build strength in your leg muscles and glutes.
- You’re looking to meet a specific training goal, like a 5K or 10K race or cross-training.
- You have the budget and space for it (if you’re planning to purchase a machine).
Final Words/Final Thoughts
Both exercise equipment pieces have become staples in cardiovascular exercise routines and gym setups.
While each cardio machine is great in addressing overall men’s and women’s health (including sexual health), they aren’t for everyone.If you’re looking to add one of these to your home gym, you must consider your goals and the means you have to access these machines.