Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is The Better Workout?

Two of the most popular cardio devices in gyms are the elliptical and treadmill.

Both machines may give good cardiovascular exercise, burn calories, and enhance aerobic capacity, but each has advantages and disadvantages.

So elliptical vs treadmill – which one is better for you? That’s what we’ll be assessing in this guide!

If you’re a runner or preparing for your race, you’ll benefit from the treadmill to improve your running stride and get better results when outside. If you’re new to the gym or have had knee issues, the elliptical can help you get great aerobic exercise while placing less strain on your knees.

The elliptical and treadmill are both popular options for working out inside, but we’re here to assist if you’ve ever wondered which cardio equipment is best.

We’ll go through the benefits and drawbacks of each device in this article to help you decide what to do the next time you go to the gym.

What Is The Purpose Of The Elliptical Trainer?

Elliptical vs Treadmill

An elliptical trainer replicates and combines natural jogging and stair climbing by moving your feet in an ellipse or circular motion.

The user’s foot never strikes the ground on an elliptical trainer, eliminating hard-surface impact. Suspended pedals on an oval (elliptical) track work the lower body. The resistance on most elliptical trainers may be adjusted to make the workout simpler or more difficult. 

The apparent disadvantage of the elliptical machine is that it is not a particularly ‘natural’ action for most sports.

You could wonder to yourself when you embark on the cross trainer for the first time, “How do I work this thing?” but this is unlikely to happen on a treadmill. If you’re a runner, you’ll be working on your leg muscles on the cross-trainer, but you won’t focus on your stride or form.

It gives you solid aerobic exercise without stressing your bones and joints. It may also assist you in avoiding injury when exercising.

In addition, the elliptical’s arm grips allow for faster upper- and lower-body training. For example, you may move your legs and push these back and forth simultaneously. The grips’ resistance helps strengthen your shoulders, chest, and back muscles. 

At the same time, the machine may assist you in building lower-body muscles such as glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps.

An elliptical machine allows you to reverse direction and work backward. It can help you work with different muscles.

For example, you may work out and develop your calves and hamstrings by walking backward instead of forwards.

Your core must activate to keep you balanced because you’re working both your lower and upper bodies simultaneously.

The fluid elliptical motion doesn’t jolt or stress spinal systems. If you’re new to the elliptical trainer, start without arm grips. It might make you feel more comfortable. Then add the arm handles.

Next, focus on the correct oval form. A skilled personal trainer can show you how to use an elliptical safely at the gym.

Finally, keep your posture erect and core taut while moving. 

The Elliptical Is Easy On Joints And Good After An Injury

The elliptical machine is low-impact.

An elliptical can be a decent alternative if you can’t stand the jarring action of walking or jogging.

Even though an elliptical machine is a low-impact machine, it may provide a high-intensity exercise. It is especially beneficial if you’re healing from an injury yet want to stay in shape. Low-impact exercise is less taxing on the joints than high-impact exercise. 

The elliptical is a better option if you have a musculoskeletal ailment like low back pain, knee or hip pain, or other issues like arthritis or osteoporosis.

An elliptical

Although low-impact exercise may appear gentle, it gives a solid cardiovascular workout. It makes it an excellent alternative for those new to working out, returning to the gym after a break, or having joint issues like knee or ankle pain.

Because of the low-impact nature of the cross trainer, you will not gain as much muscular strength as you would on the treadmill.

It isn’t necessarily a negative thing, and if you already incorporate strength training into your workout regimen, it’s probably not worth discussing, but it’s worth noting.

The Pros For The Elliptical 

  • Ideal for active rehabilitation or low-impact activity
  • It can be used to target both the upper and lower body
  • It can be utilized to isolate the hamstrings and glutes by moving backward
  • Excellent for HIIT and interval training. 
  • Ideal for weight loss

The Cons For The Elliptical 

  • There is a learning curve
  • It does not train functional movement  
  • It does not measure mileage properly
  • It does not offer as much strength as the treadmill
  • Weight bearing action is reduced on your joints

What Is The Purpose Of The Treadmill?

A treadmill is an exercise machine with a motorized, continuous looping belt that allows users to walk or run in place.

A treadmill will enable you to stroll, sprint, or do everything walk or run-related. Ensure the safety clip is secured to your clothes when using a treadmill.

The treadmill will come to a halt if you trip or fall.

You can usually change the speed, and inclination, track your mileage and pace and even schedule interval training on most treadmills.

You may make a flat road, a mild slope, or even a severe hill. Treadmills have been everywhere since the 1800s and can be found in almost every gym and home.

So naturally, more study, development, and perfecting have gone into them than any other piece of cardio equipment. Treadmills are often seen in gyms, but they may also be found in physical therapy and doctor’s offices.

Because they’re so common, you’re bound to have come across one in your life, even if you’ve never interacted with one. 

One of the significant advantages of the finest treadmills is that they simulate the motion of jogging or walking outside without the elements.

So, if you’re a runner, utilizing a treadmill to build the muscles you’ll need on race day while controlling the circumstances is a terrific idea. 

Plus, even if you’re not a runner, you’re unlikely to need to ‘learn’ how to use a treadmill. Another significant benefit of the treadmill is its adaptability, as you can alter the speed and elevation with a button.

As a result, you control whether you want to burn calories by power walking up hills or doing sprint intervals. 

Jogging on the treadmill also has a lower effect on your legs than running outside, especially if you run on pavement.

However, studies have shown that it isn’t all bad despite having a heavier impact than the elliptical and may even help you build stronger bones. Working on a treadmill is especially beneficial to your legs since it strengthens leg muscles like your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Because of its more significant impact than the elliptical, jogging outside has a higher injury risk than running on a treadmill.

Shin splints, stress fractures, and knee soreness are typical running ailments caused by doing too much too quickly, so if you’re new to the treadmill, start carefully and warm up before stepping on. 

A treadmill, unlike an elliptical, does not directly train your upper body. Swinging your arms and core will target them, but it won’t be as precise. If you’re already strength training, this isn’t a terrible thing.

See also: the treadmill vs the stairmaster

How Are Treadmill Workouts Beneficial?

Treadmill machine

This machine will mainly target your lower body while running or jogging.

Sprinting is also very good for tightening up your core. If you do an intense treadmill workout, look for burn in your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs. This machine is ideal for serious runners and racers who don’t want to train in bad weather

Because treadmills are so sophisticated these days, you can accurately calculate distance, evaluate your pace, and set your goals.

There are companies offering a myriad of treadmill workout apps that can help to keep you motivated.

For example, if you don’t want to run for an hour, choose your intervals and rest times to make a shorter high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. Anyone with endurance or weight reduction objectives can benefit from high-intensity interval training that lasts 10 to 30 minutes. 

Treadmills are a great way to keep track of your time and increase your speed.

Because the conveyor belt’s velocity is determined by the machine rather than your horsepower, increasing the MPH (miles per hour) will encourage you to attempt to keep up and become accustomed to sprinting.

If you’re outside on your own and trying to push yourself, this may be more difficult to track. 

While on the treadmill, you may concentrate on perfecting your running form without the harmful effects of jogging on concrete or similar surfaces.

On the other hand, treadmills limit your capacity to improve your natural running form. Because the conveyor belt handles some of the work, your legs and feet don’t have to work as hard to propel you along.

Outdoor jogging is ideal for practicing workouts and perfecting form since treadmill running may cause some people to shorten their stride. But, even if jogging isn’t your thing, this machine might help you strengthen your lower body or even your core.

It is particularly true if you’re jogging uphill.

While treadmill jogging will not replace the overall strength and power improvements of weighted squats or lunges, it is still a terrific technique to test the endurance of your legs.

In addition, you’ll burn more calories on the treadmill than on the elliptical. That’s because your body expends more energy when you have to pick your foot up off the ground than when it stays put.

Contrary to common opinion, running and walking can assist in strengthening your bones and muscles, improving your posture and endurance as you age.

However, according to specific research, the size of the belt might cause people to adjust their walking or running patterns, resulting in muscular imbalances and postural issues. 

Many people are curious about their heart rate and optimal heart rate zone. However, it might be difficult and inconvenient to hold on to the treadmill grips while jogging.

The Pros For The Treadmill

  • Strengthens the lower body and, on occasion, the core
  • When the weather is poor outside, this is ideal for racing training
  • Can assist in increasing speed
  • It’s possible to program HIIT exercises using it
  • It’s possible to utilize it to improve your running form
  • It can be used for incline training
  • Beneficial for weight reduction

The Cons For The Treadmill

  • Can Be Tough On Joints 
  • Unnatural Handles 
  • Posture Problems
  • Not good at perfecting your running gait
  • Works fewer muscles

Elliptical vs Treadmill: Our Verdict

The elliptical is a master of injury avoidance and low-impact cardio, while the high-impact tread is excellent for burning calories and building bone strength.

Fitness enthusiasts nowadays have a plethora of options for working up a sweat. 

The treadmill and elliptical are effective machines to help you get a cardiovascular workout. Which device is a better option depends on your individual needs.

Author Profile

Alex Randall

Photo of author
Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

Leave a Comment