Elliptical vs Treadmill – Which One Is Best For You?

Elliptical vs Treadmill

Elliptical trainers and treadmills are common exercise machines for indoor aerobic workouts. But in as much these two machines share some similarities, they are different in quite a number of ways. Let’s have a look at some of their major similarities and differences.


1. Both are good for cardiovascular workouts

Either a treadmill or elliptical trainer machine can offer superb aerobic exercises for the improvement of cardiovascular health, lung function as well as body weight management. However, the amount of calories that you burn by using either of them is influenced by the duration and the intensity of your exercise session.

2. Impact on lower body muscles

Treadmills mimic outdoor walking or running while working out on an elliptical trainer is like riding a bicycle or running. By walking, running or cycling, you exercise your lower body muscles, including the hip and the leg muscles. Therefore, both types of machines are designed to workout lower body muscles.

3. Safety issues

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If not used carefully, treadmills and elliptical trainers can cause accidental falls. Both have adjustable speeds for a comfortable and safe workout. Elliptical trainers have working poles while treadmills have handles for the stability of their users. To avoid accidental falls on either of them, adjust the speed of the machine you are using to the level with which you are comfortable and hold its working pole or handle firmly.

4. Occupy almost the same space

The space that these machines occupy should be an important thing to consider if you want to get one for your home. However, treadmills and elliptical trainers don’t differ much in terms of their space requirements. They’re almost the same size and so, they occupy nearly an equal amount of space. When not in use, both can be folded, although only a few elliptical machine models have the folding feature.


1. Efficiency

Although both types of exercise machines can burn the nearly the same amount of calories, their efficiencies differ slightly. According to a study conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin, the average amount of calories that a person can burn by running on a treadmill for one hour ranges from 705-866 calories. On the other hand, peddling on an elliptical for the same duration burns about 773 calories. However, it is worth noting that working out on a treadmill feels more exerting as compared to when using an elliptical machine for body exercise.

2. Targeted body parts for exercise


The majority of elliptical trainer models have movable handles which their users are supposed to hold not only for their stability but also for the workout of their lower and upper bodies at the same time. This makes elliptical trainers better for cross training as well as full-body workouts as compared to treadmills.On the other hand, treadmills don’t have the movable handles but poles instead. They mostly engage the lower body parts only, hence neither effective as effective as elliptical trainers for a full-body work nor are they designed for cross-training.

3. Maintenance requirement

The majority of treadmills need regular maintenance but still, there are some no-maintenance types. On the contrary, elliptical trainers usually don’t need regular maintenance. Low maintenance requirement is one of the elliptical machine benefits.

4. Usability ease

Many people find the use of an elliptical for the first time a bit awkward because it needs some coordination. On the other hand, as long as you can run or walk, a treadmill is quite easy to use. You just need to set the speed that you are comfortable with and then run or walk on it hassle-free.

5. Movement settings

Since it almost impossible to run backward, treadmills don’t have settings for reverse running or walking. When it comes to pedaling, someone can comfortably do it in a reverse manner and perhaps that’s why elliptical trainers have settings that allow their users to pedal in reverse. Reverse pedaling helps you to exercise your calf as well as hamstring muscles.

6. Targeted people

Since elliptical trainers have minimal impact on joints, they are suitable for people who need gentle workouts, for instance, overweight persons, those with joint injuries or chronic diseases as well as older adults. On the other hand, treadmills are good for anyone else, especially athletes and joggers.

7. Joint impact

When working out on an elliptical trainer, your feet remain in contact with its pads. Therefore, the exercise will have nearly no impact on your joints. On the contrary, running on a treadmill poses a high impact on your joints and this can stress your joints with time. For that reason, the injury risks of treadmills are higher as compared to elliptical trainers’.

8. Operation

Elliptical trainers imitate a running motion involving suspended peddles which are moving elliptically. Conversely, a treadmill offers you an inclined or flat running or walking platform.

Hopefully, with this information and of course considering your needs, you are in a better position to establish which is better for you between a treadmill and an elliptical trainer. Remember that elliptical trainer benefits are a bit different from treadmills’.

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