Ellipticals and Treadmills: Which One Improves Your Routine?

Elliptical Treadmill

Elliptical Treadmill

Many of us prefer to do our sweat-work indoors and ellipticals and treadmills are the two most popular machines people use when it comes to cardio. These two machines have earned their popularity and have become staple equipment for many hubs. As convenient as these machines are, many are still confused as to which one to use. For most, both would be a pretty good answer but for those who want to focus on one for their program or to simply choose a side, I wrote a list of what I think represents their pros and cons. Considering how one can benefit you in a way the other can’t is a must before selecting the machine.

Pros Of Using Treadmill


  • Treadmills offer versatility with many options for workout such as walking, jogging, and sprinting and various options for speed and inclination.
  • Your will be able to burn calories at a higher rate as the movements like running require more effort as the legs has to be lifted up from the platform.
  • It improves the weight bearing by strengthening the muscles and bones while promoting proper posture. This provides long term benefits as you age.
  • Treadmills are very user-friendly and can be used even by the beginners.

Pros Of Elliptical


  • You can create the running motion on this machine without causing much strain to your joints unlike treadmills.
  • The moveable hands in the latest models of the elliptical machine give exercise to your upper and lower body at the same time. The upper body exercise improves your biceps and triceps.
  • The ability to do reverse stride activates different sets of muscle groups and gives more emphasis on quadriceps.
  • You will be able to burn calories equal to that of using a treadmill with less effort when you are using the elliptical.
  • Less chances of injury compared to treadmill training.

Cons Of Treadmills And Ellipticals

  • Though most of the treadmills have shock absorbers, the impact it creates on ankle joints, spine, knee, hip, etc. is a lot more compared to elliptical and hence are not safe for people with joint problems.
  • Some of the training movements on the treadmill like incline sprints are dangerous to perform whether you’re skilled or not.
  • The elliptical may work the lower body muscles a bit less than treadmills, but you can overcome this drawback by changing the stride length.
  • The motion of the elliptical machine is not as easy as treadmill and needs training before the first use.

Final Thoughts

There is obviously no clear winner when it comes to which fitness machine is the best because they both serve different purposes, despite overlapping in some areas. The perfect solution would be to use both, under the supervision of a fitness trainer who would be in perfect position to instruct you which machine is suitable for which particular exercise. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to find themselves in that position, so sometimes you have to compromise and make a choice.

If you are a runner who is practicing for an outdoor event, then the treadmill will be a great option. If you want to improve your lower and upper body muscle , then you can opt for elliptical. If you have restrictions on doing high-impact exercise or if you are an older person, it is better to select an elliptical machine to strengthen the muscles and bones.

Your level of expertise and training is a deciding factor as well. Treadmills are more suitable for people more advanced in their journey to a great body, while elliptical machines can be used by amateurs with greater effect. But that’s not to say that professionals can not make use of elliptical machines – especially if they are recovering after an injury – and there are some exercises that can be easily done on treadmills by novices as well.

Last but not least, the cost of the machine is one factor that weighs heavily in the decision should you want to purchase one instead of just going to the gym. Both machines have plenty of lower range models that start at a couple hundred dollars and high end models that go well into thousands of dollars. But when you compare side by side, a treadmill will generally be more expensive than an elliptical machine, assuming they have similar specifications. So if you can’t afford to spend too much, start with an elliptical machine and upgrade to a treadmill later on when it makes more sense financially.

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One thought on “Ellipticals and Treadmills: Which One Improves Your Routine?

  • Good points Arya … throughout my years in the specialty fitness equipment industry I always advised people to chose the machine that mimics what they like to do the most, because that’s the one they would probably use longer, unless there was a medical issue that steered them in one direction or another.

    I like the idea if switching off and “cross-training” because that provides variety and encompasses more muscle groups.

    Ellipticals also have a very “low-perceived” exertion rating, as you don’t really feel like you’re working that hard, but you still get a good workout.

    An issue with some ellipticals is that depending on the design of the stride, if you’re pitched too far forward, then your feet can fall asleep after 10-minutes or so because the compression squeezes the blood from circulating evenly … early on, one manufacturer that I was a dealer for had the patent on how the foot articulates through the motion – and because it was a natural motion, the blood flowed evenly. I don’t know if that’s still the case today.

    Thanks for the post!

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