Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is Better

Whether you’re the person who loves running outdoors or prefers biking to running, at some point the weather always takes turn for worse. I personally live in a state where the winters are VERY COLD! So ideally, I have to find other ways to incorporate my cardio sessions when I can longer enjoy the warm weather.

Elliptical Vs Treadmill

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Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is Better 

The long-debated topic, elliptical vs treadmill, which one is better?

This is a difficult question to answer because it really depends on what your goals are.

Are you looking for less impact on the joints?

Do you want to be able to change the incline?

Are looking to burn more calories overall?

Do you enjoy HIIT workouts and want to know which one it works better with?

Which piece of equipment is better suited for at home?

Which one is more expensive?

These are all good questions and don’t worry, we will cover each one of these questions in DETAIL!

Let’s start with the first question…

1. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is better for your joints?Elliptical Vs Treadmill

Well, it depends.

If you weigh around 200 pounds and were running/jogging outside on the hard pavement, you would be putting roughly 2000 pounds of weight-related stress on your legs and joints.

Now let’s have this same person begin “walking” at a slightly slower pace, they would only be putting about 900 pounds of weight-related stress on their legs and joints.

If you prefer walking as your form of weight loss, then it probably doesn’t make too much of a difference. The stress you put on your joints is going to be very similar when comparing the elliptical vs treadmill according to the mayo clinic.

In regards to a faster-paced workout where you would be jogging or running, the elliptical is going to be far less severe on your joints.

The reason is that the elliptical has virtually zero impact on the joints. When you are exercising on an elliptical, you are not incorporating a natural walking motion. Unlike the treadmill where the heel of your foot is constantly striking the treadmill belt, the elliptical allows your feet to rest on a platform and moves in your legs similarly to that of cross-country-skiing.

This type of movement is far less damaging to your bones and joints compared to the beating they take when running on a treadmill. That being said, they are still some potential drawbacks to the elliptical. 

  • No-impact means you do not give your body a chance to develop stronger bones. Too much impact is bad, but zero impact is not good either.
  • Your feet are locked in one spot, which unfortunately can cause your feet to become numb.
  • You are doing an awkward repetitive motion, your calves and quads can become locked up and burn. My suggestions, always stretch!

2. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Resistance vs Incline

Each one provides its own unique set of benefits. If you haven’t already guessed, the elliptical allows you to adjust the resistance while the treadmill allows you to adjust the speed and incline.

Which is better?

Again, not an easy question to answer, because there’s more than one answer.

With the treadmills ability to adjust the incline. According to research, raising the incline on a treadmill by 2 percent can drastically reduce the shock on your legs and knees. Unfortunately, going beyond this incline will have the opposite effect by increasing the stress on your joints.

If you’re not as concerned about the impact raising the incline will have your joints, then, by all means, increase that incline! Doing so will allow for more calorie burning potential.

According to research, walking on an incline has been shown to have a large impact on metabolic cost (the number of calories burned during a specific task or exercise).

Ok, so then what about the elliptical?

Well, obviously with the elliptical you have the ability to adjust the resistance. This means you can decide how difficult you want to keep the resistance as you’re peddling in your awkward cross-country skiing motion. Not to mention, the majority of elliptical trainers come with arm handles, which in turn gives you a full body workout (unlike the treadmill).

Some studies suggest that the number of calories burned is very similar between the elliptical and the treadmill. The main difference between the two is people feel it’s a lot easier when on an elliptical. 

3. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One Burns More Calories?

The question really comes down to which one you are putting more effort. One study compared the energy expenditure and oxygen consumption needed to perform exercise at similar speeds/exertion. The results showed that there was no difference between the treadmill and the elliptical. The bottom line, it really comes down to preference.

If you are overweight where it is considered unsafe to run, then my suggestions would be the elliptical hands down. At the end of the day, the amount calories you burn is going to be almost the same anyways. Not to mention, your involving upper and lower body. With the option of adding resistance, you have the potential to build up some upper body and lower body strength.

The treadmill and the elliptical can both be beneficial for helping you lose belly fat, you have to pick which one is right for you!

4. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is Better For HIIT?

If you are familiar with HIIT, it stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. There are a couple of different ways HIIT can be utilized. For the purposes of this article, we are only going to focus on how it applies to these machines.

For HIIT, the idea is to exert maximum effort for 30-45 seconds, followed by a period of heavily reduced exertion. Basically, sprinting followed by walking.

Well, from personal experience I can tell you that doing and HIIT cardio session is far more difficult on a treadmill.

Why?

In order to get to 90% maximum effort, you have to be going pretty D*** fast! Since you are technically running on a moving platform. One wrong step, you’re looking at a good chance of injuring yourself, at the very least making an a** out of yourself by flying off the machine (this may or may not have happened to me before).

On the elliptical, not only is it more user beginner friendly, but you are also a lot less likely to go flying off of the machine as well.

In my opinion, it’s a LOT easier to do these style workouts on an elliptical. You’re also going to be burning close to the same number of calories without having to worry about injuring your joints, body, or your pride!

5. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is Better For Home?Elliptical Vs Treadmill

My first question for you, do you get bored easily?

If you do, then the treadmill might get boring very quickly.

With the treadmill,  you have the option of walking, running, or walking…

Yes, you can set an incline, but that’s about it. With the elliptical, you have the option of going backward, forwards, using only your legs, using only your arms. You also have the option of adding resistance, which I stated earlier could be used to create a mini-strength training workout. 

Let’s look at another factor. Ellipticals typically take up less space than a treadmill, which may make it more ideal for a smaller room or house with limited space. 

That being said, you could potentially run into an issue with the elliptical if you have low ceilings. This would not be an issue for the treadmill. If you have a ceiling height of 7′ 6 or lower, I would not recommend an elliptical (unless you want to bash your head into the ceiling). 

6. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is More Expensive?

Unfortunately, there is no good answer for this one. It really depends on the quality of the product that will ultimately determine the price. There are a few things you need to consider before purchasing an elliptical or treadmill. Typically, the better quality products are going to start as low as 1500 and go as high as 5000 dollars. 

If this doesn’t fit into your budget, there are other options to consider. You can always go with a lower priced product that may work ok, but it might not last as long. Regardless of your decision, my suggestion to you would be find a way to use both. They both can provide great cardio workouts, and you will only be improving your overall fitness by using both!

Alright, that wraps the article about elliptical vs treadmills.

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