This is the question that is asked time and time again. Which one is better, the treadmill or the elliptical trainer? Well, the truth is there is no obvious winner. It depends on what you want and what your body needs. For some people there will be an obvious choice. For others, both seem good.
In that case, if you have access to both machines, divide your weekly cardiovascular workouts between the two. Alternating between high- and low-impact exercise is a good idea in any case.
ELLIPTICAL MACHINE VS TREADMILL
|Elliptical is better and more efficient at burning fat and calories with less effort. Overall studies show that the elliptical and treadmill appear to be comparable in terms of calories burned.||Many experts give a slight edge to the treadmill, because it is high impact (requires you to launch your body through the air). The intensity required is higher, thus it has slightly greater calorie-burning potential over the elliptical trainer.|
|The feet stay in contact with the pads throughout movement. Thus, there is almost no impact in elliptical training. Use of the upper body also keeps joints mobile. However, the elliptical does target the ankle joints and may make exercising for those with ankle problems awkward.||Running is a high-impact activity. The continuous pounding of your feet can stress your joints with time. Thus, there is an increased risk of injury. The risk increases the more you use it. Greater wear and tear on the ankles, knees, hips and spine.|
|Elliptical offers the same cardiovascular benefits as treadmill running||Excellent cardiovascular workout|
|Elliptical allows you to work the upper and lower body simultaneously.||Treadmill targets the leg and core muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, hips and calf muscles. Mostly lower body workout.|
|The elliptical trainer targets the thighs, hips and bottom. May work the bottom muscles less. In forward motion, emphasis is on the front of the thighs. Can change the number of muscles targeted by changing stride length and direction.||Running on a higher incline setting will tone the whole lower body and bottom. The incline adds resistance to the workout and places you in a position that really taxes your glutes. It is also a powerful fat burner.|
|The “perceived exertion” is often thought to be lower on the elliptical trainer. In other words, able to burn roughly the same amount of calories as treadmill users with the impression of considerably less effort. Limited only in what they can do by cardio-respiratory fitness.||Treadmill slightly more difficult for beginners due to high-impact nature. Therefore, need to start more slowly to give body time to strengthen joints, so to avoid injury.|
|Unless you are walking on the treadmill, the elliptical is less stressful on the joints, but still a great cardio workout. The elliptical is the safer workout.||Treadmill is fantastic to strengthen joints and to improve “real-world” running ability. But also comes with the “real-world” risk of injury, esp. if over-training or beginners advancing too quickly.|
|Some find the elliptical motion and combination of upper and lower body exercises a little difficult to master at the beginning. Others find the elliptical motion awkward and prefer the simplicity of a treadmill.||You don’t need any coordination to use the treadmill. If you can walk, jog or run you can use a treadmill.|
|Elliptical trainer only works through the users movement. Thus, requires constant motivation by user to keep pushing and working at a high level for maximum calorie burning. Therefore, greater likelihood to coast along and have a substandard workout. Make sure you have a great workout playlist.||Once you set the treadmill to a certain speed you have to run at that pace – otherwise you fall off. Therefore, it is easier to work outside your comfort zone and you’re unlikely to do a poor workout, unless you choose the wrong settings.|
|Can change the incline and intensity.|
Can change direction: forward and reverse motion.
Dual action handlebars also add variety to the upper body workout.
Can change stride length.
|Can change the incline and speed.|
|Excessive rotational movement from the waist in order to push the hand levers forward.|
Placing the heel off the foot plate (i.e. most of your weight on the front section of the foot) for an extended periods of time, which causes sore calf muscles.
|Many people on run with an unnatural stride on the treadmill.|
1. A short stride, where you run at the front of the belt on the treadmill.
2. A long stride, where you are near the back of the belt.
Stepping off of a moving treadmill
Using the handrails
|Look forward and stand tall throughout. No slouching!|
Place feet centrally on the foot pedals.
Ensure your heel is down on the foot plate when ever you can, in order to stretch the calf muscles.
Read more about proper posture on the elliptical
|Look forward and stand tall throughout. No slouching!|
|Aim for larger controlled movements, rather than a small jerking action. Use your arms to help control the speed and also to assist your legs.||Beginners should start with a slow pace until they get used to the movement and know how to operate and stop the machine in case of an emergency.|
|Elliptical trainer is much quieter due to its low-impact nature.||Treadmill is noisier due to its motor and the impact of the user hitting the belt.|
|Overweight persons (greater risk of injury to joints during high-impact exercise), those with an injury to weight bearing joints, older persons, those with chronic illnesses that call for gentle exercise e.g. chronic fatigue syndrome||Runners, anyone training to run outdoors|