One of the biggest questions I get asked is which cardio machine is better: a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. Proponents of both machines have their arguments and I have to say that there is merit on both sides. For instance, Craig Ballantyne, author of the popular Turbulence Training program hates elliptical trainers. Other experts take on a totally different view. When experts disagree it’s time to find out the facts for yourself.
In this article, I want to help you settle the Treadmill Vs. Elliptical question and help you see which one is better for weight loss and for you, personally. Before you rush on out to buy yourself a home fitness machine, read this comparison review all the way through…
Which is Better For Fat Loss
Some proponents of elliptical machines vs. treadmills base their preference on the reading they get from the calorie counters installed in the machine. They say that for the same time, they burn more calories with the elliptical trainer. I don’t buy it. I don’t any of those built in calorie counters. I don’t think they work and I’ve read reports on how some of them can be off by 20% or more. Take it from me, just don’t pay any mind to calorie counters.
So, which machine is better for fat loss, the treadmill or the elliptical?
There are studies that claim that the difference between them is minimal and that you can get a decent workout with either type of machine. I have a personal preference and that is definitely the treadmill. As far as I’m concerned, running beats elliptical training hands down. I can go for 60 minutes on an elliptical at top speed without too much difficulty. On the treadmill, I have to really push myself.
The way I feel during the workout and after it tell me that I get a much harder workout on the treadmill. Granted, I run fast, but even when I push myself on the elliptical, I just don’t feel as worked out as when I do after a good run on the treadmill.
That being said, there is nothing that prevents you from getting a solid workout on the elliptical. In fact, as I said, studies show that this you can get a similar workout with either machine. I just feel that a treadmill is better for the kind of high intensity, high heart rate type workouts I like to do.
However, I do admit that the elliptical trainer has one massive benefit over a treadmill…
Impact Free Workout
The main benefits of the elliptical vs. the treadmill is that it offers an impact free workout experience. When you’re running on the treadmill, you’re pounded with each step. With the elliptical, your feet never leave the paddles so you don’t get any shocks.
This is why people with bad knees, joint issues, and seniors often prefer working out with an elliptical trainer. Even I, when I had knee pains for a few weeks, turned to the elliptical as an alternative to my regular running workouts. Once I got better, though, I went back to running.
If you suffer from any pain associated with running, the elliptical is an excellent choice.
As I said, I love running and so I prefer the treadmill. However, this is a personal preference and you may see things differently. An elliptical trainer does offer additional attributes:
- There are models that come with moving arm handles which do allow you to train your upper body a bit. However, I doubt that you get an effective upper body workout as the resistance isn’t great.
- You can add resistance to the motion and, at higher levels, this can be quite hard to work against.
- With an elliptical trainer, you can move forward or backward, a totally different experience.
For some, the full body intensity of running, in which you need to push yourself forward all the time is unmatched by any elliptical trainer. The choice is really yours to make.
As someone who fell from a treadmill and got beat up quite badly… twice. I know a thing or two on how dangerous running on a treadmill at full speed can be. You need to be focused all the time, otherwise, you’ll be thrown clear off the belt. With the elliptical, this isn’t going to happen. While falling off the treadmill shouldn’t happen, it does happen even to the best of us (myself included). This shouldn’t stop you from running but it’s a point to keep in mind.
A high quality treadmill will usually cost more than a high quality elliptical. For instance, the Schwinn 430 elliptical sells for about $600 and is one of the most popular models there is. The Sole F80, a highly recommended treadmill, sells for about $1,500. If money is the main consideration in the treadmill vs. elliptical trainer choice for you, then you will spend less on an elliptical.
Some people say that an elliptical will last you for longer than a treadmill. I don’t know if this is true. In the gyms I worked out in over the years, I saw both treadmills and elliptical trainers break down. I believe it depends on the model, the amount and style of use, and shouldn’t be generalized.
In the end, the choice between a treadmill and an elliptical machine is something you need to make. Both of these type of machines can help you do intensive cardio workouts to lose weight with. I prefer the treadmill myself, but you need to make your own mind. I hope that this comparison review has helped you make an informed decision about which cardio machine is better for you.