Treadmills and ellipticals are among the most widely used machines to improve health as they offer effective cardio training. However, fitness experts agree that everything will depend on your physical goals because both the elliptical and the treadmill have their advantages.
So trying to pick one is like being on the side of Kanye or Taylor. To clarify this rivalry – elliptical or treadmill – fitness experts will answer the question.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is the Best to Track Progress?
According to a personal trainer, Mackenzie Banta, who is based on Trainiac, an app designed for personal training, treadmills with a programmable monitor are the best option to track your training. Due to its simplicity, it is possible to program personal training in one place: the LCD screen.
Karli Alvino, a running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, agrees with this point, as she admits that thanks to the advancement of technology, it is possible to have treadmills capable of storing a lot of data.
“Almost all treadmills support the tracking and controlling time, distance, segment time, and pace to check your progress.” Having an LCD screen monitor is that it will help you see the real values of your workouts, so it makes it a very useful tool to see your weekly progress.
As for elliptical machines, as there are many variants between machine models and brands, the values can change from machine to machine. This means that one mile in one elliptical can be different from another for the type of training.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is the Best for Injured People or with Bad Knees?
Indeed, RSP Nutrition’s certified strength and conditioning trainer, Manning Sumner, C.S.C.S., confirms that the elliptical, thanks to the way it works, has the main benefit of not damaging the joints since the body does not impact any surface.
The fitness professional explains that one moves by standing, constantly leaning on pedals that give the sensation of being suspended in the air, without having to lift and place the foot again on a surface such as with the treadmill, where body weight impacts directly.
For this reason, this type of exercise makes it a favorite for those who are sedentary, those who train from time to time, and those who must recover from an injury.
Banta affirms too that “Those who suffer from problems or injuries in the back, hips, and knees, can do aerobic exercise without problems since the elliptical has less impact than the running. Therefore, it helps to protect the joints”.
However, the elliptical is the most used by athletes or those who do not have an injury as it prevents any incident in the lower body.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is Better to Train for a Race?
Banta affirms that to train for a race, it is always preferable to do it on a treadmill since, when compared to the pavement, the treadmill takes better care of your joints since the impact is less between both.
She says that “many people avoid training on a treadmill because the impact is high, but that is not correct.” and she affirms, “Running on the pavement is riskier for both the feet, the hips, and the knees since the impact is greater than on the treadmill, which is built with a belt that helps to absorb, to a large degree, the impact.”
Due to the treadmill perfectly simulating a real run on pavement or a trail, this machine allows you to focus on the actual movements while running, which helps when the real outdoor race arrives.
On the other hand, although the elliptical combines the natural movement of the human body when walking, it has a very different movement than what a treadmill offers for these cases.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is the Best to Train the Whole Body?
According to Banta, the professional affirms that “we must bear in mind that what we will achieve with training on this machine is to activate all parts of the body, since by having to push the upper handlebars, what we do is move the arms against resistance while moving our legs.”
This is confirmed by a chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning coach, Allen Conrad, D.C., C.S.C.S., who states that it is possible to strengthen the triceps, back, shoulders, and chest with the movements of the elliptical handlebar. It is possible to do an arm workout by increasing resistance and adding intervals.
On the other hand, the core also benefits from this training as it contracts to improve balance while the upper and lower body movements occur, says Banta.
Another function that benefits the muscles of the legs, such as hamstrings, glutes, and calves, is that the elliptical allows you to pedal backward to work the hamstrings in another way.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is Better to Tone up the Legs?
Although there is nothing better than working with weights to strengthen and tone the legs, Conrad affirms that a treadmill can incline to increase resistance further and thus strengthen the muscles of the legs.
Running on a slope of different angles is not easy; however, it will help you work your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and core. You will be running against gravity regardless of the lean angle.
Sumner agrees that “it is not necessary to run on the slope if you are not used to it; even walking on it, your thighs will strengthen.”
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is the Best for Burning Calories?
For Alvino, it is important to clarify that both the elliptical and the treadmill are great for cardio exercises if you have never done them. Even with both machines, you can burn calories.
“However, if we have to compare one machine with the other, there is no doubt that the treadmill is the winner of burning more calories,” she says. And this is due to the movements made on the treadmill since it involves more energy than the elliptical.
On the other hand, the type of training on the treadmill is also very important. Running slowly for 20 minutes will not burn more calories than if you do H-A-M intensely on the elliptical for the same number of minutes.
Regardless of which of the two machines you have at home, Alvino suggests that to burn many calories, it is necessary to implement HIIT training based on intervals since it is medically proven that this type of training accelerates the metabolism allowing the burning of fat more quickly.
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?
This is a question users often ask themselves when they want to lose weight. Regarding this, the professional Sumner could not say which the best is. He affirms that “there is no winner since that will depend on which is the best machine for the user.”
This means that it will depend on the user’s choice since those who suffer from motor problems or have an injury will feel more comfortable on one machine than another.
Banta agrees that “both machines will help you to remove those extra kilos as long as you acquire a healthy diet since both the elliptical and the treadmill offer the caloric deficit register to lose weight.”
Q: Treadmill vs. Elliptical: What Is More Affordable?
If you still have not decided on which machine to buy, you should know that the elliptical is cheaper than a treadmill. According to Amazon records, the elliptical that users choose the most costs $260, while a treadmill costs $600.
Banta claims that while both machines are great, neither can ever replace strength training. Therefore, a good idea for your home gym is to invest in an elliptical and also buy other cheaper training equipment (dumbbells, for example).
Conclusion: Which Is the Best, Elliptical or Treadmill?
Conrad answers this question by saying that “everything will depend on what you want to achieve and which machine best suits your body.”
On the one hand, the treadmill allows you to perfectly emulate an outdoors race, so it is the best for race training. And on the other hand, the elliptical helps reduce the impact, so it is the ideal machine for those who suffer from problems in the lower part of the body, such as the knees.
If what you need is to lose weight and speed up your metabolism, it is best to choose a HIIT workout that you like either on the treadmill or on the elliptical. But if neither of the two machines convinces you, you will always have other options such as lifting weights or training on the stair climber.