The Elliptical machine and the treadmill are two of the most effective cardio machines you will find in the gym and two of the most popular. Both machines are able to give you a fantastic cardiovascular workout and both machines can help you to burn calories and improve your physical fitness, however, each machine does have its own benefits and drawbacks which have caused people to ask which one is better.
In this article, I am going to compare the two and see if we can figure out, once and for all, which machine is better.
Best Machine for Low Impact Exercise - Elliptical
When it comes to low impact exercise the elliptical wins hands down.
Most people suffer from bad knees or hips and this can make running quite difficult. Every time your foot hits the floor, stress, and pressure is sent up through the joints and around the body, causing you pain in multiple places and potentially leading to more dangerous injuries such as stress fractures or muscle tears.
Running on a treadmill instead of outside can help but you will still experience discomfort from the force sent through your joints, which can prove painful and limit your workouts.
You don’t have this problem with the elliptical. You will be able to exercise stress-free.
As your feet are planted on the footpads and do not come off, you can exercise in a much more stable and safe way and you won’t have to worry about stress on your joints from striking the floor, belt or footpad. Much like running in a pool, there will still be muscle fatigue and it will still be difficult, giving you a good workout, but your joints won't experience the stress and pressure that it would if you were constantly striking a surface and sending shockwaves through your body.
Best Machine to Strengthen Your Legs - Treadmill
The elliptical machine uses leg and arm motions to move the handles and as a result, does not focus more on one body part over another.
The treadmill, on the other hand, is solely focused on your lower body and requires more muscle activation from your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to walk, jog or run.
With the incline feature, you are able to apply even more pressure to your legs and shift the focus to require greater muscle activation from the lower body.
Replicating hill sprints, jogging or running on an incline is extremely difficult and can help you to strengthen your legs very quickly. Although it isn’t enough to replace the effects of an actual leg day in the gym, it will help to strengthen the legs and develop your lower body muscular endurance.
Best Machine for a Full-Body Exercise - Elliptical
The treadmill is great for working the cardiovascular system but it does so by mainly working the legs, whereas the elliptical produces a genuine full-body workout, moving your legs and arms at the same time and activating your core as you keep your balance and body position.
This is a great way to train the entire body and means you can get a more effective workout whilst using the elliptical rather than having to move from machine to machine to actually work different body parts.
With the ability to change the resistance level you can make the workout harder or easier as you wish and you can feel just as fatigued in your arms as you do in your legs.
With the elliptical, you get a true full-body, all over cardio experience that the treadmill just doesn’t match.
Best Machine to Burn Calories - Treadmill
One of the key features of any piece of cardio equipment is how many calories you can burn when using the machine. Both the elliptical and treadmill will give you a very good calorie burn but when it comes down to it, working at the same intensity, for the same amount of time on both machines, you will get a greater calorie burn from the treadmill.
Although the elliptical machine is a full-body workout, the treadmill requires more force and effort to complete and therefore will burn more calories as a whole.
The treadmill also has the ability to work at a much higher intensity than the elliptical does, helping you to work at a higher cardiovascular threshold.
Best Machine to Lose Weight - Elliptical or Treadmill?
The Case for the Elliptical Machine
The elliptical machine is a fantastic piece of kit and can certainly help you to improve your cardiovascular performance, whilst also burning calories at a high rate, helping you to lose weight and improve your overall fitness.
It’s a great option for people struggling with injuries or who want a low impact exercise alternative and it will allow you to work out for longer periods of time without adding extra stress to your joints and muscles.
Using the elliptical gives you the chance to exercise your lower body and upper body at the same time, giving you an effective full-body workout and you don’t have to worry about bad posture or unnatural positions as you can make adjustments to the set up to ensure you’re comfortable throughout.
Overall the elliptical machine is a great option for cardio workouts and if you want a low impact option, this would be it.
The Case for the Treadmill
It can’t be denied that the treadmill is a fantastic cardio option for almost everyone, whether you want to walk, jog, run or simulate hill sprints.
Mimicking natural movements, the treadmill allows you to move as you would do when running outside, in a race or when playing a sport and you can increase the intensity to challenge you as you see fit.
It burns calories at a high rate, helping you to lose weight faster, and with the different programs available, you will be able to improve your fitness in a very small space of time.
If you want to train for general fitness, compete or train for a race or any other type of athletic pursuit, the treadmill is one of the best options available and the natural movement patterns help you to make the exercise more life-like and real.
The treadmill is simple yet challenging and is the perfect option for anyone that wants to burn more calories but also make a big difference to their fitness and move in a natural way whilst doing it.
Both machines are great and are fantastic options for cardio workouts but as you read through the review you see there are two main differences that will determine which one is right for you.
If you’re someone that struggles with joint or mobility problems then the elliptical machine is clearly the best option as it allows you the chance to work on your cardio, make improvements to your fitness and still burn a high rate of calories, but without putting stress on your muscles and joints.
If you don’t suffer from joint pain and you can not only handle running but you actually enjoy it, then the treadmill is for you. Especially if you want to challenge yourself further with hill runs, sprints or you’re training for an event.
If you don’t have a problem one way or the other then it’s really about which one you prefer most as both machines have their merits and can claim benefits that the other machine can’t.
Just remember, the most important factor, when buying a machine for use at home or getting ready to use one in the gym is how you actually use the machine and how hard you work.
Pick a machine that you enjoy using, that you actually want to use and which can help you towards your own personal goals. If you base your decision off that criteria then you will be happy no matter which machine you decide to use.