Elliptical Vs Treadmill – Which is Best For You?

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Elliptical or Treadmill?


elliptical vs treadmillTrying to decide between an elliptical trainer or a treadmill? Wondering which is best?

While there are definite differences between the two, it really boils down to you – the buyer.

This post will lay out some of the benefits of both the treadmill and the elliptical but before we get to that, I’ll address the question that most people are really asking – which machine burns the most calories?

This boils down to a few things – how long you use it and how much you challenge yourself (resistance levels on an elliptical or incline on a treadmill for example) are really what will determine your calorie burn – NOT the machine itself.

nordictrack x9i incline trainer
Nordictrack X9

Provided you’re comparing a quality elliptical vs treadmill, they’re both fairly equal in terms of calorie-burning. But again, it depends on how many ways you have to challenge your body and work your muscles that will mean more calorie burning overall.

So for example, an incline trainer like the X9 (seen here) gives you a lot more options to burn calories than a standard treadmill.

And an elliptical with incline gives you more ways to use different leg muscles and therefore burn more calories. So let’s get on and talk about the main treadmill vs elliptical benefits.


Treadmill Benefits:


#1 Ideal for Runners, Walkers and Joggers

treadmillThe treadmill is still the machine of choice for those who prefer running, jogging or even walking.

It’s obviously a better choice for the dedicated runner/jogger than an elliptical trainer as it more closely mimics an outdoor walk or jog.

Plus it can help you train even in the winter months when you don’t want to run outside.

I also find that occasional walkers, elderly or those recovering from injuries prefer the treadmill over the elliptical – as they can have a nice leisurely walk without the workout being too strenuous.



#2 Easier To Use / Safer

Walking is a simple form of exercise that anyone can do – from beginner to seasoned athlete.  So a treadmill is a great option for families where there might be different levels of fitness as everyone can still use (and be challenged by) a treadmill.

Plus, you don’t have to be super-coordinated to figure out how to use a treadmill whereas elliptical trainers can sometimes be a little tricky to use – especially for beginners. A treadmill is also generally lower to the ground as well, which gives elderly or injured users more of a sense of safety.



treadmill console


#3 More Advanced Fitness Toys

The treadmill market is a bit more advanced than the elliptical market in terms of the fitness toys and tools you can get on your machine

For example, you can get treadmills with built-in TV’s, Web Browsers, Decline and even HD workout videos. The elliptical market – while coming along – has been a bit slower in terms of giving you these kind of entertainment options.


Factory Direct Fitness Equipment



Elliptical Trainer Benefits


#1 Lower Impact Than A Treadmill

elliptical vs treadmill benefitsElliptical machines do tend to be lower impact than treadmills because you’re not pounding down on a belt with every step.

What is interesting is that this lack of impact on the joints allows you to burn about the same amount of calories as treadmills – with the impression of putting out less effort.

So you burn the same amount of calories while feeling like you did less work.

(This is called the ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion’). This lower impact also makes the elliptical trainer a great choice for those with knee or hip problems.



#2 Provides an Overall Body Workout

With the dual-action upper body arms as well as the foot pedals, you are getting an overall total body workout. Whereas the treadmill mostly focuses on the lower body, the elliptical works your entire system for an overall cardiovascular workout.

So if you really want to work on your arms as well as your legs, an elliptical might be the better choice for you.


#3 Can Be More Compact

This isn’t always the case (for example you can get specialty compact treadmills) but in general, an elliptical can take up less space than a treadmill. However, on the downside, it’s a lot harder to find a folding elliptical – whereas most home treadmill do offer the folding option now.


Bowflex treadclimber


So those are some advantages when comparing elliptical vs treadmills. Is one machine better than the other? It really depends on who you are and what YOU enjoy doing.

For example, you can get great workout variety on both machines. On an elliptical you can go forward or back and use your arms or not. On a treadmill you can walk or run, go uphill or even (on some machines) walk at a decline.

So it really depends on what you enjoy. But the bottom line is this:

If you enjoy using a specific exercise machine more than others, you will exercise more often – which means more calories burned, more weight lost and a better body achieved! That’s really the best exercise machine for you!


Nordictrack 1750 treadmill