When it comes to gym equipment, cardio machines are unquestionably popular. There are many other types of machines to choose from, but you may have noticed that treadmills and ellipticals are two of the most popular options offered in almost any generalised gym or fitness studio. Both are simple equipment that may be used by anyone with little or no fitness experience, but can also benefit more advanced exercisers.

To find out which of these machines is better, we have provided an overview of this equipment to let you know which will best suit your fitness needs.

Elliptical

An elliptical is a piece of gym equipment that resembles and combines a natural running movement with stair climbing by placing your feet on a platform moving in an ellipse or continual circular motion. It also works on your upper body by the push/pull pump of the handlebars.

Pros

Cons

Easy on the joints Less muscle development
Provides fitness after an injury Has a learning curve
Has options to work on different muscles
Gets an upper and lower body workout
Control
Cost

Pros of an Elliptical Machine

Easy on the joints

Since the elliptical is a low-impact machine, it puts less stress on your joint, unlike other high-impact machines. This makes it a safer option especially if you have conditions such as knee or hip pain, low-back pain, or other health conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis.

Provides fitness even after an injury

Although an elliptical machine is low-impact, it can still provide a high-intensity exercise. This is particularly useful if you’re healing from an injury but still want to stay in shape.

Has options to work on different muscles

An elliptical machine allows you to reverse direction and work backwards. This can help you work different muscles. You can strengthen your calves and hamstrings by using the machine.

Gets an upper and lower body workout

Some elliptical machines have arm handles that help give an upper body workout. You can also move your legs while pushing these back and forth. The handles provide resistance for your shoulders, chest, and back muscles.

The machine can also help you build lower-body muscles including your glutes, hip flexors, and quads.

Control

Ellipticals allow you to have more control such as the incline and resistance to provide workout variation.

Cost

A good-quality elliptical trainer is much less expensive than a good-quality treadmill.

Cons of an Elliptical Machine

Less muscle development

While an elliptical machine is excellent for low-impact aerobic training, it does not provide the same level of muscular growth as a treadmill. If you want to keep using an elliptical but want to acquire greater muscle strength, try adding weight or strength training to your regimen a few times a week.

Has a learning curve

If this is your first time using an elliptical cross trainer, then it may take quite some time to get used to it. The workout movement may feel awkward and unnatural. So, in case you are not sure what to do, ask a certified trainer for help on how to properly use it.

Treadmill

Treadmills are common workout machines that can also be found in physical therapy and doctor’s clinics. It is a piece of fitness equipment with a motorised, continuous looping belt that allows the user to walk or run in place. You can use a treadmill to stroll, sprint, or do everything in between. You may make a flat road, a gentle incline, or even a severe hill out of it.

Pros

Cons

Control and variation May lead to injuries
Best for runners Works on fewer muscle groups
Easy to use

Pros of a Treadmill

Lots of variety and control

One of the main benefits when using a treadmill is your ability to control your workout. You may choose the exact speed and incline of your activity, whether you want to go for a brisk stroll or an uphill run.

Most treadmills also include a selection of training programs to pick from. It may be simpler to achieve your fitness goals if you have greater control over your workout.

Treadmills are ideal for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts because you can easily change the speed and incline. HIIT workouts are beneficial for burning calories, lowering body fat, and boosting cardiovascular fitness in a short amount of time, according to studies.

Best for runners

Running and walking on the treadmill helps build leg muscles including your hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. That is why treadmills are best for runners especially if you are cross-training.

Easy to use

There is not much learning curve when using a treadmill because it is straightforward. All you need to do is get used to the moving belt and you are set to getting your workout.

Cons of a Treadmill

May lead to injuries

Compared to an elliptical trainer, running or jogging on a treadmill might place greater stress on your bones and joints. This can eventually result in injuries such as shin splints, knee injuries, and stress fractures, which are all common running problems.

Always begin and complete your treadmill activity with a warm-up and a cool-down to limit the chance of injury. After your treadmill session, make sure to stretch.

Works on a fewer muscle group

A treadmill can help you increase leg, hip flexor, and glute strength, but it doesn’t target as many muscle groups as an elliptical.

You can work the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and chest, as well as the muscles in your lower body, on an elliptical machine. An elliptical helps you isolate specific muscles by switching direction, which is more difficult to do on a treadmill.

How to Choose Between Elliptical and Treadmill?

Your physical health and exercise goals will determine whether you use an elliptical or a treadmill. Both machines are effective in burning calories and providing a solid cardiovascular workout. To choose between these machines consider your fitness goals, your health, and your budget.

The elliptical machine, for some people, can provide benefits that the treadmill cannot. They may be a better alternative if you’re prone to injuries or have a musculoskeletal ailment because:

  • It gives a good vascular workout without putting too much strain on your bones and joints
  • Allow you to have both upper and lower body workouts quickly especially if your elliptical has arm handles
  • Reduces the risk of injuries while working out.

On the other hand, a treadmill may best suit you if:

  • You are targeting specific goals such as training for a 5k or 10k race
  • You are don’t have joint issues or are not prone to having injuries
  • You want to build strength in your leg muscles and glutes

So, Which One is Better as a Cardio Machine?

Which is better is entirely dependent on your objectives. An elliptical is your best bet if you’re recovering from an injury or you have a weak knee. A treadmill, on the other hand, is a better choice if you want to train for a race or have a more adjustable HIIT workout. According to experts, both the treadmill and the elliptical are fantastic tools for clients to use to incorporate some cardio into their daily routines and complement strength training.

How safe is it to use treadmills and elliptical machines?

Following the safety guidelines for both elliptical and treadmills make them safe to use. If you are new to using an elliptical trainer, then you may want to try it out without the handles first. This will allow you to get comfortable with the movement. Once you get used to its movement, then you may use those with arm handles.

Focus on proper form when utilising the elliptical. Maintain an upright posture and a strong core throughout the activity. If you’re using an elliptical at the gym, you can request a tutorial from a certified personal trainer on how to use the machine safely.

On the other hand, when using a treadmill, make sure the safety clip is fastened to your clothing because this will bring the treadmill to a halt if you trip or fall.

Because using a treadmill puts stress on your bones and joints, make sure you warm up and cool down correctly before beginning your activity. This can help you prepare your muscles and joints for work and reduce your chance of injury. Be sure to stretch too after your workout.

If you feel dizzy, or lightheaded, stop using the elliptical or treadmill. Stay hydrated throughout your workout.

Always consult your doctor before beginning a new physical fitness plan. They can suggest a healthy exercise routine for you.

Related Questions

1. Which is better for weight loss, treadmill or elliptical?

For overall weight loss, either an elliptical or treadmill can help you achieve your goals. This is possible especially when you combine it with a proper diet, the right attitude, and a healthy lifestyle.

2. What burns more calories elliptical or treadmill?

Treadmills and ellipticals both have advantages and disadvantages, but the treadmill helps you burn a few more calories than the elliptical machine when it comes to weight loss since treadmill is a high-impact machine.

Emma Pyke
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