Treadmill or Elliptical – Which is Better?

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Starting out with your fitness regime, but confused by the wide variety of exercise bikes available? If you’re wondering about treadmill or elliptical – which is better, we will help answer the question for you.

A fitness or workout routine is essential for every person. Most people already have an unhealthy lifestyle that leads to many health-related issues. 

Regular aerobic fitness routines can help people to improve their physical conditions. Lack of physical exercise is the main reason why 42.4% of adults are obese in America. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

One of the most common questions that the people starting a fitness routine stumble upon is whether to go for a treadmill or an elliptical for working out. This article will explain all the significant reasons you should use these devices to work out. 

Elliptical Or Treadmill

Your preference for a workout and your desired goals play an important role in deciding what type of device you should go for. The treadmill and the elliptical machines are designed to simulate a natural running and walking gait. These machines are excellent devices if you want to have a cardio workout. You will also find the ability to change the workout intensity on these machines to suit your needs. 

The basic difference between these two workout machines is that you run or walk on a straight running belt on a treadmill. You have the option to control the speed of this running belt and the incline of this belt. 

On the other hand, you run in elongated circles or ellipses on an elliptical machine rather than walking on a straight path.  

Benefits Of Ellipticals

Causes no Pains in joints

Elliptical machines are low-impact exercise machines. That is, running and walking on these machines will cause less strain and pressure on your joints such as the knees, ankles, etc. This is an excellent feature for people with arthritis, as about 58.5 million adults in America suffer from this condition. 

If you find running or walking strenuous and jarring on your joints, an elliptical is good. An elliptical is a safer option for people who suffer from any musculoskeletal condition like hip pain, lower back pain, osteoporosis, etc. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

It helps recover faster from an injury

Ellipticals are great machines if you want to recover from an injury. Despite their low-impact design, you can easily squeeze out high-intensity workouts from these machines. 

According to a research study done in the year 2010 between an elliptical and treadmill to compare the performance results, the results showed that the number of calories burned, heart rate and oxygen burnt were nearly identical. 

Complete body workout

You can get a complete lower and upper body workout with an elliptical that has handles for the arms. These arm handles are supposed to be pushed back and forth in synchronization with the legs. 

The resistance offered by these handles works on your shoulders, back, and chest. Apart from these muscles, an elliptical machine will also strengthen your lower body muscles, such as the hip flexors, glutes, and quadriceps. 

Effective on Thigh Muscles

You can switch directions with an elliptical. You can move forward as well as backward using this feature. This type of workout is more effective on the muscles as they get conditioned while moving in both directions. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

Elliptical Cons

Learning Takes Time

You will need to put in some time and effort to learn how to use an elliptical properly. Initially, you will have some difficulties as you may not be accustomed to moving along an elongated path. 

You may find moving on an elliptical unnatural at first, but gradually you will get the hang of it. If you face massive problems, you can also get help from a professional trainer. 

Not meant As a Muscle Building Exerciser

The muscle development might be slow and less on an elliptical than on a treadmill. An elliptical is designed for a low-impact aerobic workout, so it focuses less on muscle development. 

If you want to enhance your muscle while working out on an elliptical, you can go for weight training and add resistance to increase the intensity of the workout. 

Benefits Of A Treadmill

Enhanced control on workout

A treadmill is very versatile. You can perform a variety of routines on a treadmill, starting from a brisk walk to an uphill run and so on. 

You will get the option to change the speed of the running belt and change the inclination of the belt. You will be more in control of your workout on a treadmill than on an elliptical. 

Suitable for high-intensity workouts

You can use a treadmill to perform high-intensity interval training workouts. These are the workouts in which a person works on high-intensity intervals at regular intervals. According to research studies, high-intensity interval training workouts help reduce fat on the body or for burning calories in a short time. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

Enhances body strength

A treadmill will also help you by increasing your leg strength. You will begin to notice your quadriceps, calves, and hamstring take an ideal shape after some time of working out on a treadmill. 

You can also use a treadmill to strengthen your glutes and hip flexors. You can also practice lunges and squats on your treadmill. 

Treadmill Cons

Risk of Injury

If you use a treadmill carelessly, then you can get yourself injured. Treadmills are high-impact machines that build up stress on the muscles and bones of your joints. Most of the common treadmill injuries include strained muscles, knee injury, shin splints, etc. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

It is essential that you know your limit and don’t exceed that limit. You can reduce this risk of injuries on a treadmill by having a warm-up routine before you use the treadmill. After you are done with the workout, be sure to follow it up with a cooling-down routine. 

Stretching from time to time will also prove beneficial before and after working out on a treadmill. 

Works on Fewer Muscles

The treadmill has a significant effect on fewer muscle groups in your body. Unlike an elliptical, you don’t get the option to work on your upper body with a treadmill. 

How To Select Between The Treadmill And An Elliptical Machine?

These machines offer different pros and cons, as discussed above. You can choose which machine suits best to your style of workout by considering the following things:-

  • Workout goals: Your workout goal will mainly determine what type of exercise machine you will use. For instance, if you want to strengthen your leg muscles, you should go for a treadmill. On the other hand, if you prefer overall muscle development and physical fitness, you should go for an elliptical cardio workout.
  • Physical fitness: Your physical fitness level plays a vital role in making this decision. If you are prone to injuries and have a weak skeletal system, you should go for an elliptical over a treadmill. People with osteoporosis and arthritis should also prefer using an elliptical over a treadmill. 
  • Other factors: Other factors that come into play while choosing between a treadmill and elliptical are your budget, availability, space, and other factors similar to these. 
Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

Which Is Safer Among A Treadmill And An Elliptical?

If you use both these machines as they are supposed to be used, they are pretty safe on their own. If you are a beginner to an elliptical machine, it will be better to use it with the extra arm and shoulder supports. Once you are accustomed to the movement of the elliptical machine, then you can remove these arm supports. 

Mind Your Posture

Remember to keep a straight and lean posture while working out on an elliptical machine. Keeping the core tight will significantly impact the muscles, and you will burn more calories and fats. You can always take help from trained professionals and learn the basics of using an elliptical. 

While using a treadmill, make sure that you attach the safety clip to your clothes to don’t trip and fall while walking or running. This safety clip will cause the treadmill to stop automatically if you trip and fall. Follow proper warm-up and cooldown routines while using a 


Know When Not to Use

You should not use a treadmill or an elliptical machine when you are not feeling well, feeling nauseous, or dizzy. If you feel very dizzy, it could be because you are dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water is the ideal thing to do at this time. 

While using an elliptical, you should allow your lower body to support the entire weight of the upper body. The weight of the upper body will act as additional resistance, enhancing your workout. 

Know How to Use

A treadmill is a better cardio machine if you prepare for athletic events such as running or jogging. Then your primary source of exercise would be a treadmill; however, you can still use an elliptical for light and cross-training sessions. 

Even if running or jogging is your main occupation, you should also use a treadmill at intervals instead of continuously, as this increases the chances of an injury occurring. 

Treadmill or Elliptical - Which is Better

Final Words

Whether using a treadmill or an elliptical machine, both are great because they both help you lead a more active lifestyle. We have tried to point out the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each of the two machines so that you can make an informed choice for your exercise regimen.

If you have more queries, questions, and doubts, please feel free to drop us a query and we will revert back to you. And if you liked the article, please feel free to disseminate it in your social media groups and message boards, so that it can help others looking for an answer to this question.