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Elliptical vs. Treadmill

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Jeff

Elliptical vs. Treadmill

Treadmills and elliptical trainers are the most popular cardio machines that anyone who has ever set foot in a gym must have used. If you didn’t use these machines for blasting fat, you probably used them to warm up before doing more intense exercise.

Both machines are easy to use, and they simulate natural movements that don’t require much experience or training to carry out. Moreover, you can increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise according to your current physical condition or personal preference.

As great as both machines are, what you might not know is that they’re not all that similar. In fact, if you only stick to one of these machines, you won’t get the same result of using the other or using them both.

The key differences between treadmills and ellipticals make each more suitable for a certain category of users, so make sure to keep on reading if you want to figure out which is better for you.

Elliptical vs. Treadmill – Which Is Better?

Choosing the right piece of equipment depends on your goal. Both machines will help you lose weight. Nonetheless, treadmills burn more calories -mainly lower body fat- and offer more control and training programs. They also help you develop stronger muscles.

Meanwhile, ellipticals involve a bigger group of muscles, they’re safer and easier on the joints, and they’re more affordable, although you might need to get a trainer at first.

Losing Weight  treadmill vs elliptical

Both the elliptical and the treadmill are cardio machines, so they’re both suitable for losing weight. In addition, studies have shown that you can burn the same amount of calories on both machines.

Although it may feel like you’re making more effort while running on a treadmill, you can get the same result doing a HIIT elliptical exercise.

Some professional trainers still recommend using a treadmill to lose weight because you burn more calories when you move your foot off the ground rather than have them planted throughout the entire exercise. However, this is only better if you only need to lose thigh fat.

On the other hand, an elliptical allows you to involve the entire body muscles, so you might not lose as much fat when it comes to the thigh region, but you’ll definitely lose fat from other areas as well.

In conclusion, deciding which is better for weight loss depends on your body shape and the areas where you need to lose fat the most. 

Winner: Draw

Race Training

It’s no surprise that treadmills make a better replica of outdoor races. Even though they have a terrible reputation for being high-impact machines, newer machines are designed to absorb some impact. Nowadays, you can find the best-rated treadmills at the click of a mouse and pick the most convenient for race training at home.

It’s also worth mentioning that the pavement you run on during races has more impact on your leg joints than treadmills ever did, so when it comes down to running on a track or using a treadmill, the safer option is the treadmill.

Winner: Treadmill 

Building Muscles

Ellipticals are great for full-body workouts. Nonetheless, you can only gain more muscles if you add weight exercises to your training routine.

This isn’t true for treadmills because they do such an outstanding job in terms of strengthening calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps muscles, so you don’t have to do any additional exercises to increase the bulk of such muscles.

What’s even better is that you don’t have to get a gym membership to increase your muscle mass; you can start your own gym at home using one of the best home gym treadmills

Winner: Treadmill

Safety  treadmill vs elliptical vs bike

As mentioned earlier, treadmills aren’t the easiest on the joints. Although they can absorb some impact from when your feet hit the platform, they’re not suitable for those with previous back, knee, or hip joint injury.

Elliptical trainers, on the other hand, have a lower impact on these joints. Even if these joints aren’t injured, to begin with, there’s little to no chance you might end up damaging them while using an elliptical, but we can’t say the same for treadmills, particularly for morbidly obese users. 

Winner: Elliptical

Ease of Use

Running or walking on a treadmill is something that we’re all familiar with; it’s natural, and we do it every day.

However, things aren’t as easy when it comes to using an elliptical. Some might even need a little demonstration to understand how to use the machine and the kind of exercises to carry out to train different muscles.

It’s better to get a certified trainer when using the elliptical for the first time, especially if you have a previous injury and you shouldn’t be straining your joints too much.   

Winner: Treadmill

More Affordable

Starting a home gym can be quite expensive. If you don’t have a preference for using either machine, you can save some cash by getting an elliptical rather than a treadmill.

The best elliptical machine for home use won’t cost you more than $300, whereas treadmills cost around $500 – $600.  

Winner: Elliptical 

Elliptical – Pros & Cons  elliptical vs treadmill benefits

Elliptical trainers should be used after injuries and if you want a full-body exercise. You should make sure to stay straight up and not bend while using the machine, so they’re great for posture. 

Here’s a sum-up of the benefits and downsides of using an elliptical:

Pros Cons
Less straining than treadmills You’ll need to get a certified trainer at first
Can be used after injuries Doesn’t increase the muscle bulk
Suitable for high-intensity workouts  
Cardio exercise results identical to using a treadmill  
Involves upper and lower body muscles  


Treadmill – Pros & Cons

Treadmills are great for warm-up sessions, rehabilitation programs, race training, and relieving stress. In the following table, we’ve summarized the advantages and drawbacks of using a treadmill: 

Pros Cons
Offers a variety of training programs Higher risk of injury
Suitable for high-intensity workouts Involves fewer muscle groups
Great for strengthening leg muscles and hip flexors  
Feel more natural to use  

Elliptical vs. Treadmill – Which Should You Choose?

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of using both the treadmills and elliptical trainers, it should be much easier to pick the most appropriate cardio machine that satisfies your needs and helps you achieve your goal.

Suppose you have had any previous injuries, or you’re currently struggling with any joint conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other joint disease. In that case, we highly recommend consulting your physician and hiring a certified trainer before using any of these machines.