Elliptical vs Treadmill Which Cardio Machine Should You Use

Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Cardio Machine Should You Use?

Most gyms have ellipticals and treadmills. They are classic, reliable, and simple-to-use machines that can drastically improve your cardiovascular health.

Both of them help you burn calories, strengthen your body, and increase your stamina. But which of them is truly better?

We will answer that question here so you’ll know which one to get or use for your workout. But first, we’ll identify the pros and cons of each cardio equipment to make you aware of them.

So, let’s start!

The Pros and Cons of an Elliptical Machine

The Pros and Cons of an Elliptical Machine

An elliptical machine works out your upper and lower body. Particularly, this includes the shoulders, chest, arms, and back, as well as the quadriceps, hip flexors, and glutes.

And if you reverse the direction you’re working out—go backwards instead of forwards—you can work the reverse side of your upper and lower body too, such as the triceps, hamstrings, and calves.

The key to using an elliptical is to evenly distribute your weight against the resistance. Also, you have to pump your arms as fast as you’re moving your legs because the moving parts are connected.

Most of all, we like that the elliptical is a low-impact machine, meaning it’s good for those with musculoskeletal conditions or injuries. And that despite the injury, these people want to get a whole-body workout.

As for the cons, exercising on an elliptical will burn you fewer calories and develop less muscle strength than if you work out on a treadmill. Although it is a more relaxed form of training, it can be effective in keeping your fitness level up and improving your body physique.

Also, there’s a learning curve you have to go through if you’ve never tried an elliptical before. It requires precisely timed movements of your arms and legs, especially when you’d want to go faster—kind of like an exercise bike, only without the arm work.

The Pros and Cons of a Treadmill

The Pros and Cons of a Treadmill

The treadmill is a fantastic piece of cardio equipment because it is more intense. It also gives you control concerning speed and gradient.

Besides that, you can select a custom programme which will better help you achieve your fitness goals.

However, in using this machine, you only improve your lower body, especially the legs and joints, unlike with an elliptical, which targets many muscle groups.

You can also improve your arm muscles albeit only slightly, since there’s not much resistance to your arms as you pump them.

The negative aspect of a treadmill is that it can give a pounding to your legs and knees if you run harder or longer than you’re used to. This can lead to your knees or joints becoming injured, as well as developing a shin splint or sprain.

To avoid this problem, you’d have to warm up first before you run. For instance, you can take a brisk walk or a light jog—don’t run as soon as you get on the treadmill.

And then, you cool down afterwards to ease your worked body and lungs. Do a full-body stretch afterwards to improve your flexibility and help your muscles recover.

Also, if you feel any pain or discomfort, you can lower the pace of your treadmill, run a shorter distance, or alternate with walking. Also, consider just biking or swim instead on a running day.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Both aerobic machines give people excellent exercise. However, the right one to use will depend on your preference, fitness needs, and body condition.

Whether you love running, are training for a 5K race, or a marathon, you may want to train with the treadmill. This is because you have to build up your wind, use the same motions and muscles, and be faster and stronger when you run.

On the contrary, if you are prone to injuries or are injured, yet want a full-body cardio workout,  an elliptical would be the right choice. It is effective yet low-impact in that it won’t worsen the condition or pain you have.

The amazing thing is that you can alternate your workout between them. Say, you’ve run hard and are starting to feel a bit of pain on your knee, you can switch to an elliptical the next day to stay fresh and avoid being injured.

But, if you have been training with an elliptical and feel that you want a more vigorous workout, you can shift to running the treadmill. That will give your body the work it needs and keep you physically and mentally healthy, while giving you variety in your exercise routine.