Which is Better: Treadmill or Elliptical?

Which is Better: Treadmill or Elliptical? Treadmill and elliptical trainers are among the most common cardio machines for indoor workouts. Both are designed to simulate a natural walking or running motion and, depending on your workout intensity, they boost your cardio fitness. These machines are effective at cardiovascular workouts and help improve aerobic capacity and burn calories, but each machine comes with unique benefits and perks.

Although they have some similarities, they also have some key differences. So, which one is better? There is no definite answer. It depends on your physical health, workout goals, and other factors. Read on to understand which machine will suit you better.

What is a treadmill?

A treadmill is a stationary exercise machine that comes with a running or walking belt designed for indoor cardio exercise. Treadmills come with a range of incline and speed settings, making them great pieces of exercise equipment for people of different fitness levels.

Some electric treadmill options have LCD touchscreens and Bluetooth, helping you stream training programs designed to enhance your workout efficiency.

What is an elliptical machine?

An elliptical machine is an exercise machine designed to simulate some aerobic exercises, including running or walking, cross-country skiing, or stair-stepping. This machine comes with pedals suspended above the ground and are moved forward and back or up and down on a track.

The user’s foot doesn’t hit the ground when using an elliptical trainer, so the impact of running or walking on a hard surface is eliminated, which is an advantage to those suffering from back pain. The pedals move on an oval-shaped track and provide leg workouts, and most machines are designed with different resistance levels to make your workouts easier or more rigorous. Since the elliptical motion is fluid, movement on an elliptical machine doesn’t stress or jar the spinal structures.

Related: Best Treadmills for Heavy Guys

Which is better:

For weight loss

If you’re wondering which machine is better for weight loss, there is no clear answer to this. All you need is to figure out what works best for you. This depends on whether you have any existing injuries, the machine you prefer, and which machine will easily help you achieve your fitness goals.

Both the elliptical machine and treadmill are amazing workout tools for weight loss. Combining with a healthier diet can help eliminate the excess calories, thus leading to weight loss.

For tracking progress

A treadmill is better for tracking your progress. The main advantage of working on a treadmill is that it’s easy to use and programmable. Since modern treadmills have high-tech features, they’re great tools for monitoring your progress and storing your data. You can easily track the distance covered, time, pace, calories burned, and pace on most treadmills.

For the budget

If you’re operating on a budget and aren’t sure whether to purchase an elliptical or a treadmill, know that ellipticals are generally affordable compared to high-end treadmills.

For race training

Although treadmills have a higher impact than elliptical trainers, they’re a lower-impact running option compared to pavements. A treadmill has less impact on the body, especially the knees, feet, and hips, because it is designed to absorb some impact. Unlike the elliptical trainers that operate on a set of moving patterns, the treadmill gives you a chance to focus on running form, which means it’s ideal for both the trails and pavement.

To strengthen your legs

Walking or running on a treadmill can strengthen your leg muscles if you use the machine’s incline range. Running on various inclines will force you to engage your calves, quads, glutes, and core. A treadmill workout will also strengthen your hip flexors and glutes.

For full-body workout

Most elliptical machines present a combination of arm and leg motion. Your arms move enough to strengthen your upper body. You can add arm-only intervals or increase the resistance for a better arm pump.

Additionally, since you’re engaging the upper and lower body simultaneously, your core has to engage to balance your body. This makes an elliptical machine ideal for a full-body workout.

Which is Better: Treadmill or Elliptical?

For burning more calories

Most exercise machines estimate the calories you’ve burned in a workout, so calories aren’t everything in fitness. In fact, cardio may not be the best fit for burning calories if it’s your main aim. Combining strength training and cardio is a good way to a healthy routine, so choosing an elliptical and treadmill still matters. However, when comparing the two, a treadmill will earn you more calorie burn than the elliptical trainer.


Final Thoughts

Treadmills and ellipticals are great machines for cardio exercise. Both are safe for people of different fitness levels and present minimal injury risk. For the better one, it entirely depends on your goals. If you prioritize safety, an elliptical is a good choice. But if you’re looking for a highly customizable HIIT workout or want to prepare for a race, a treadmill is a better option.