Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is a Better Workout?

Treadmills and ellipticals are standard pieces of cardio equipment you’ll find in almost every health club and gym. They are some of the most popular workout machines to use. And why not? They’re easy to use, accommodate every fitness level, and provide an effective cardio workout that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping.


However, the question is, is one better for you than the other? Experts weigh in on the differences between exercising on an elliptical versus a treadmill, so you can choose the best option for your body and health goals, especially if you’re thinking about adding one of these to your home gym.





Benefits of treadmill

Treadmills are designed for walking and running. Because you can easily change the speed and inclination, you can create a variety of workouts, says health educator, fitness professional and speaker Adita Yrizarry-Lang. Plus, many treadmills feature ready-to-follow programs and interval training options, so you can choose a workout that feels fresh and challenging every time, says Mark Coronel, certified fitness trainer and owner of Energia Fitness in Las Vegas. They say. Some treadmills also track your progress and show you how you are performing in terms of distance, speed, energy used, heart rate, and more.


Coronel says they also provide climate-controlled shelters for exercise. If you normally walk, run, or hike outside, and the weather makes it impossible to go outside, you can always go on an indoor treadmill. This consistency is important to maintain motivation and create a sustainable workout routine, he adds.





disadvantages of treadmill

Treadmills are often used for running, which can cause problems for some people. Coronel says running can be hard on the joints, leading to pain and potential injuries, especially for people who already have joint problems. Any joint problems may be aggravated if you run exclusively on a treadmill.


This workout machine also primarily uses the legs, which Coronel says can potentially lead to muscle imbalances. That’s why if you use a treadmill, it’s important that you include exercises that also target other muscle groups, whether it’s strength training or different types of aerobic exercise. There are also safety concerns with treadmills, as they can cause falls and injuries if not used properly.



properties of ellipse

One of the distinguishing features of ellipticals is their joint-friendly nature. Because your feet remain on the pedals, there may be less impact on key joints typically affected by arthritis or injury, such as the ankles, knees and hips, says Christine M. Conti, MEd, IDEA World 2023 Fitness Instructor of the Year. Chronic Disease Wellness says. Expert, and CEO of Conti Fitness & Wellness.


And unlike treadmills, ellipticals provide more of a full-body workout. For example, when you use arm levers, you’re working your arm muscles like your biceps, triceps, chest, and your back, while pedals target your lower body’s quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. , says Coronel. Plus, most ellipticals offer a variety of resistance levels and incline settings, meaning you can customize it to your fitness level and goals. Some models even include pre-programmed workouts and interval training options to keep you motivated.





Cons of elliptical

Ellipticals are non-weight bearing machines, which means they reduce stress on your body. That’s a good thing, but it also has a downside: It means they also put less stress on your bones, which isn’t optimal for building or maintaining bone density. Yrizarry-Lang explains that these stresses are needed to keep your bones strong as you age.


The motion you do on an elliptical is also unnatural, and because some ellipticals don’t allow much adjustment in hip width or stride length, you may feel even more awkward. Yrizarry-Lang says this can lead to mechanical damage and uncomfortable movement patterns that can hinder a workout and cause unnecessary stress on your body. But whether it will affect you or not depends on personal preference.



How to Choose Between a Treadmill and an Elliptical

If you’re still not sure which one will be better for you, consider these four factors:


personal health goals

Both pieces of equipment will give you a heart-pumping aerobic workout. But where a treadmill can improve running performance and build stamina, the elliptical is better for improving overall muscle strength and coordination, Coronel says.


joint health

Due to the high-impact nature of this type of exercise, the treadmill can potentially be uncomfortable for the joints, especially if you are running. However, with the elliptical, the smooth, gliding motion reduces impact so it may be more suitable for people with joint pain, Coronel says.


Workout variety and motivation

No matter the equipment, workout boredom is always a possibility. However, treadmills tend to be less monotonous than ellipticals, mainly because they have more variables you can change and usually offer built-in programs. Coronel says if you get bored easily while working out and want to use an elliptical, find one that has diverse workout programs and entertainment features.


Location and budget

If you’re buying one of these for a home gym, know that treadmills require more floor space and are typically more expensive than ellipticals, says Coronel. You will also need to perform regular maintenance on the treadmill; The elliptical requires less maintenance.



Bottom-line?

Both the machines can make you healthy and fit by providing a sweaty session of cardio. Of course, the low-impact nature of the elliptical is a better choice for people with joint problems, but beyond that, base your decision on your current, personal fitness goals, how much variety you want in your workouts, and also . You better enjoy! The best type of exercise is one that you enjoy doing and that you will enjoy doing consistently. If you are buying a gym for home gym then other factors like space and budget will also play a role.


However, if you have access to both a treadmill and an elliptical, and either piece of equipment will work for you, it’s great to incorporate both into your fitness program. Yrizarry-Lang says that if you practice only one type of cardiovascular activity on a daily basis, your body adapts, meaning it will take less effort to perform the movement. By mixing things up at the gym and alternating between the two machines, you’ll constantly challenge your body (and brain!) and maximize your overall workout effort.



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