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Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One is Most Appropriate?

When it comes to indoor exercise, two of the most used pieces of equipment are Elliptical and Treadmill. Walking and running are contemplated by far the best cardio exercise that can be done inside the shack using this equipment. But in elliptical vs treadmill, which one is most appropriate?

These aerobic exercise apparatuses can fulfil the need for cardio if you can perform that level of exercise. With a treadmill, you can walk or run on a circularly rotating belt where you get to control the speed of the belt. Whereas, Elliptical lets you move in elongated circles or ellipses during the time you stand on a platform.

So which one to choose between treadmill and an elliptical? Well, this is not a simple question. This depends on a number of factors like how much exercise one can perform, what ways they prefer to use the machine, what is the current status of your body, and other factors.

Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between a treadmill and an elliptical machine in this article.

elliptical vs treadmill
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Elliptical vs Treadmill

1. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which one is Best for Complete Body Workout?

Elliptical machines can provide you with a full upper and lower body workout. Where the arm handles allow you to push back and forth, it simultaneously strengthens your back, chest and shoulders. While the movement of legs help you build strength in the glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors.

The treadmill lets you walk or run which is beneficial for your legs, quadriceps and cardio, but it does not provide a complete body solution.

elliptical machine
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Exercise Backwards

In Elliptical vs Treadmill, which one gives an option for more workouts? An elliptical has the option to workout backwards too. In this mode, you push and apply force in the opposite direction. This kind of workout builds your inner strength and muscles like calves, hamstrings, upper body muscles and lower body muscles get built up.

On a treadmill, you can do only two exercises and that too only in one direction unless you have a way to run backwards. Hence, the elliptical is a better choice for more workouts.

2. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One is Best for Workout with Injury?

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If you have been injured recently then maintaining a fitness routine is a tough task. An elliptical helps you achieve this. The exercises done on this machine has a very low impact on your body. The low impact on the body enables you to use the elliptical when you are injured too.

This facility is not available on a treadmill. After all, running is a very heavy exercise and you can use a treadmill only when you are at least not injured.

3. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is Good for Cardio?

Well, this is a point where the treadmill gets a score higher than the elliptical as you all know that walking and running are natural movements and the best cardio. You don’t even need a certified personal trainer. However, if you are using an elliptical, then you don’t need to get upset.

There have been studies showing that similar oxygen consumption, heart rate and calorie burn with upper body workout can be achieved with the prolonged use of an elliptical as in a treadmill. This implies that an elliptical can also give good cardio but usually takes more time.

Safe for Joint Pains

Now that studies have shown that cardio can be done on an elliptical too, you can say that you have an alternate for the treadmill. But when it comes to joint pains, which one is safer in elliptical vs treadmill?

This is a plus point of an elliptical that people with musculoskeletal injuries, lower back pain, knee pain and other joint pain can use elliptical as a low impact exercise equipment.

Running or walking is a tough exercise and cannot be performed by people with the above-mentioned conditions. But exercises on elliptical can help people with such conditions stay fit.

4. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One Gives Better Control for Workout?

elliptical vs treadmill
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 The treadmill gives better control for workouts. The capability to choose the intensity of your workout is available on a treadmill but lacks on an elliptical. On a treadmill, you can set the speed at which you want to walk or run. This helps you build your stamina and lower body muscles over a period of time.

Nevertheless, there is no such flexibility in an elliptical machine. You get to work out with the same intensity from the beginning on an elliptical. Treadmill also comes with a variety of programs with the help of which you can achieve specific goals and become more fit.

5. Elliptical vs Treadmill: What is Best for Adaptation?

Treadmills are easy to get used to as walking and running is a natural phenomena. This is not the case with an elliptical machine. In fact, the movement of the elliptical is a bit unnatural and may take some time before people get used to this machine. You may need to appoint an elliptical trainer in the first few months.

6. Elliptical vs Treadmill: What Leads to Muscle Development?

elliptical vs treadmill
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A treadmill is again great for muscle development. Walking or running movements have been seen to develop and build leg muscles stronger, but that is not the case with an elliptical.

Elliptical is a low impact machine and hence muscle development is low to negligible. If you are using an elliptical to build muscle strength, then you have to take weight training or strength training additionally.

Targeted Muscles

This is an area where elliptical scores high. Overall the muscles targeted by a treadmill is low and is mostly limited to the legs. Whereas an elliptical targets your whole body muscles. Although muscle building is low on an elliptical, overall low muscle growth is better than no muscle growth.

7. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One has a Higher Risk of Giving Injuries?

 In elliptical vs treadmill, which one has a higher risk of giving injuries? Treadmill running is good for leg muscles but it has also a high impact on the body. Due to this reason, one can get injured using a treadmill. Because running is such a tough exercise, it can affect joints and may cause knee injuries, shin splints, stress fractures or back pains in the long run.

You should start with a warm-up and end slowly when using a treadmill to avoid injuries. You can also switch to lighter cardio exercises like biking or swimming.

Thereby, this is an area where a low impact cardio machine like an elliptical is safe. You will not face any injuries with an elliptical. People with pain and injuries are recommended to appoint elliptical trainers in the beginning.

8. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One is More Expensive?

If you look with your budget between elliptical vs treadmill, then definitely you would want to buy the one that saves your money. The elliptical is more affordable than the treadmill. Where the treadmill cost you around $600, an elliptical will cost nearly $260. This huge difference will take your inclination towards the elliptical from the budget’s perspective.

Both the machines have their own strengths and weaknesses. Where the treadmill workout makes way for heavy exercise, an elliptical is beneficial for a complete body workout at a comparatively low price. If you choose to buy an elliptical then you can buy additional exercise equipment with the left money.

9. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which has More Exercising Options?

There is a major difference between a treadmill and an elliptical when it comes to exercise options. The treadmills have different kinds of exercising options. You can set up a treadmill to walk, jog or run as per your comfort. You can even set it to climbing a hill.

Elliptical does not have any different set of exercises. You progress as your body gets used to the machine and add more time to spend on the Elliptical.

10. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Offers More Fitness Programs?

exercise in gym
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Another major feature that is found on the treadmill but is not present in the elliptical is the fitness programs. The treadmill has an interactive console. Here you can set the speed of the machine which helps in achieving fitness goals.

There are many programs offered on the treadmill that is useful in building a fitness routine. Elliptical is not equipped with a console and hence there are no fitness programs. It completely depends on how you are going to use the elliptical to become and stay fit.

One thing that makes the treadmill unique is that on a treadmill you can practice running. If you are a sportsperson or keeps participating in marathons then you need to practice running. A treadmill also helps you with gaining speed because running also helps in fat loss. This is possible on a treadmill but is not possible on an elliptical.  

Elliptical gives a full-body workout but it is not good for practice running which treadmill is. Elliptical is furthermore not suitable for any other sports activity as well. Whether it is lunging, pivoting, jumping or throwing or any other sports activity does not get covered by the movements of an elliptical.

This is because the movement on an elliptical is not similar to any other sports activity. While the running activity performed on a treadmill is helpful for almost every other sport.  

12. Elliptical vs Treadmill: What Burns More Calories?

It is curious to know that in elliptical vs treadmill, which one is better to burn calories. People often think that the treadmill is better for burning out calories. However, this depends on the intensity of the exercise you do on your machine. A slow 20-minute jogging on a treadmill will burn fewer calories than a high resistance workout on an elliptical.

Nevertheless, jogging or walking is supposed to burn more calories as it will require more energy from your body to lift your legs up than it will take to keep on a pedal. Whichever machine you use, a time interval based session is good for achieving results for burning calories.

elliptical vs treadmill
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13. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which will be Helpful in Putting Down Weight?

Treadmill or elliptical, which one is going to be the best method for weight loss? Walking and jogging are good exercises for losing weight.  Hence, a treadmill is a better option for weight loss.

Nonetheless, both the treadmill and elliptical is good for lower body workout. It helps in strengthening the biceps, quadriceps and other muscles and it is also beneficial for cardio. But when it comes to weight loss, the elliptical is not of much help.

14. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One is Good for Arthritis?

elliptical vs treadmill
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Arthritis is an illness where the joints are in constant pain. The pain can be minimized with pills and injections. However, a patient with arthritis cannot perform any of these activities that fall in the category of heavy exercise. 

Patients with arthritis cannot perform exercises like running and jogging using a treadmill. The reason is the heavy impact on joints like knees, hips and other bones. This is where an elliptical becomes useful.

As the exercises performed on an elliptical do not have a heavy impact on the bone joints, it is a perfect machine to help people with arthritis stay fit. This is an extra score for an elliptical.

15. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One Helps in Gaining Correct Posture?

It is easier to gain the right posture for doing an exercise on the treadmill than on an elliptical. On a treadmill, it is seen that people keep their shoulders lifted up, their head, chin are up with a straight back.

While running on a treadmill, your legs are also active. The major reason behind this is that walking, running or jogging automatically corrects the posture of your body. It becomes a problem on an elliptical to keep your head up or your shoulders lifted up or your back in the right posture. People, who lean on handles and foot pedals often obtain incorrect posture on an elliptical.  

16. Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is more Prevalent?

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This has happened to a lot of people who have bought a treadmill but stopped using it after a few months. Whether you walk, jog or run, when you start with a treadmill, you have a plan to follow. With that plan, you work out well until the goal is accomplished. 

If you go out, you keep yourself engaged and entertained with other people. This is not the case with the elliptical because it is fun to use and keep people engaged. The difference is because of the variety of movements that you can perform on an elliptical.

Which One to Choose Between Elliptical and Treadmill?

Exercise is necessary to stay fit. Some people walk, jog or run, perform a set of other exercises or join a gym. But there are also many people who want to perform indoor exercises.

Treadmills and ellipticals are machines that can be used to perform indoor exercises as a substitute for outdoor exercises. Hence, think about what to go for in the elliptical vs treadmill

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Last Updated on March 7, 2023 by ibtisam72