Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which is Better?

Treadmills have been introduced much earlier than ellipticals, but this doesn’t mean that the latter is the better purchase all the time. In fact, there are people who won’t do well on ellipticals, and there are those who also won’t see any improvement when they use treadmills.

These exercise equipment have their own pros and cons as well as features that, when you know about them, would help you decide which one is the better workout tool for you. In order to compare elliptical trainers and treadmills, let’s look into a few important factors.

Variety in workouts

Although treadmills now have features such as incline adjustments and heart rate monitors, they still don’t offer as many variations as elliptical trainers. In fact, even the most austere elliptical trainers have a lot more to provide in terms of resistance levels and pre-programmed routines than the most sophisticated treadmills.

If you want to be able to design your own workout plan, then you’re better off with a treadmill. Some are even designed in such a way that it’s like having your very own personal coach.

Weight loss

Experts agree that treadmills help you lose more weight in less time than ellipticals. They help you burn calories more efficiently and in a shorter period than elliptical trainers can.

However, with newer elliptical designs coming out, they have become even more efficient and are now said to equal the calorie-burning capacity of treadmills.


Obviously, elliptical trainers should be chosen over treadmills if you want minimal or no impact on your joints, feet, knees, and ankles. Since your feet never leave the foot pedals during your routine, you do away with the pounding that may be harmful, especially if you have had previous injuries.

Older people are advised to use elliptical trainers than treadmills specifically because of the smaller risk of injury.


Treadmills work on the lower part of the body and the legs. On the other hand, elliptical trainers can give you a full body workout because of the handles exercising your arms. Trunk rotation is also part of an elliptical workout, so you’ll get a good cardio plus muscle toning with every session.

However, if you simply want to improve your heart rate, then you could go for either one. Both can be counted on to stimulate your circulation and get your heart pumping to your ideal rate.

Training for running

Professional athletes and those training for a strenuous activity find that they sometimes would fare better with a treadmill. Marathon runners, for instance, would find that treadmills are better than elliptical trainers when preparing for a big race because they simulate the activity of running much more closely.

Training for all-around fitness

Choose an elliptical with various pre-programmed workouts and several resistance levels to challenge you in your routines. Elliptical trainers provide a well-rounded workout and, when used in combination with weight training, can be extremely effective in keeping you fit and toned.

In addition, while the forward motion on the foot pedals exercises the same muscles that are worked on with treadmills, the ellipticals’ reversible feature works on the quadricep muscles.

Physiologists are one in saying, though, that both machines are effective for improving the amount of calories burned and for providing excellent cardiorespiratory health benefits.