Treadmill vs Elliptical - best fitness machine to use | What's Better?

Treadmill vs Elliptical – best fitness machine to use

/ 08:21 AM May 18, 2021

Are you thinking of buying your cardio machine but can’t decide between the treadmill vs. elliptical? You can go to any gym, and they’ll probably have both. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are top-rated because they are often an alternative and supplement to many cardio workouts. Though if you ask gym buffs, they’ll probably tell you they would head straight for the treadmill.

Does this mean treadmills are better than ellipticals, then? Not necessarily. Treadmills have just been around for much longer, thus, their popularity.

Both will give your leg muscles a good workout, but they also have their pros and cons. Read on to know which piece of equipment will be best suited for you and your workout routines.


The Difference Between A Treadmill vs Elliptical

The Difference Between A Treadmill vs Elliptical

Though the treadmill versus elliptical question is still sometimes a point of debate for health enthusiasts, both pieces of equipment are quite similar though they’re not the same. Both are cardio machines that help increase your heart rate, calorie burn for the day and reduce risks of chronic diseases.

However, experts weigh in and say that the most notable difference between the two is the form your body takes on when using each machine. Treadmill workouts tend to mimic the natural movement of walking and running, whereas ellipticals have a lower impact and are easier on the joints and muscles. Plus, the latter makes use of upper and lower body strength with pedals and handlebars.


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Pros and Cons of Treadmill vs Elliptical

It can be quite the task to figure out which equipment is better for you. On the one hand, treadmills are suitable for runners and will help strengthen bones. On the other hand, ellipticals are great for those with chronic back, knee, leg, and joint pains and are also recommended for workout beginners.

Perhaps a breakdown of each machine’s pros and cons will help? While having both in your home gym seems like a great idea, it isn’t feasible for most as cardio machines are big and take up a lot of space. Not to mention, both cost a good amount of money, which probably explains the hefty monthly gym bill you’re paying for. Check the pros and cons of the treadmill vs elliptical.



This machine can either be a bike-type elliptical where you can sit and mimic the movements of bike-riding or one wherein you have to stand while using the pedals and handlebars.


  • Low to no-impact workout: Your feet stay on the pedal, and the machine helps keep it moving, so there is not much strain on your joints, at least compared to running or walking.
  • Whole-body workout: Your upper body will get a good workout as it pushes the handlebars simultaneously with your lower body’s pedaling. This will help strengthen your core and back muscles.
  • Toning and strengthening leg muscles: Your legs will be the ones most impacted when training in ellipticals. If you’re looking to tone your thighs, calves and strengthen your legs, this machine is for you.
  • Good for muscle therapy after injuries: Many physical therapists use both treadmills and ellipticals, but the latter is most recommended for those with weak strength in their lower bodies.
  • Cost: A good-quality elliptical machine will cost significantly lower than an okay-quality treadmill.

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  • Numb feet and tired legs: The longer you train on an elliptical, the more likely your leg and feet muscles will tire out. You may even experience cramps the first few times you try the machine, but this will get better in time.
  • Repetitive: There’s not much you can do with this machine apart from its intended purpose. You can set it up to go forward or backward, but not much else.
  • Low to no-impact workout: Low-impact exercise may be suitable for beginners or the injured, but it may not be as effective for those who are used to intense workouts.



This machine uses a motorized belt that allows you to run or walk in place for whatever amount of time you deem necessary for your workout routines. It mimics that natural movement of walking and running form, so you get almost the same high-impact workout, you would while going for a jog.


  • High-impact workout: Running on a treadmill can help strengthen your bones and maybe even burn more calories. Using the treadmill for a reasonable amount of time and on varying speed levels is already a good cardio workout.
  • Easy to use and incorporate with apps: While running in place may not be your idea of a good time, treadmills are easy to use and can be paired with many apps, depending on your treadmill’s functions. There are treadmills with small screens for watching your shows or showing scenic views to make your running more immersive.
  • Suitable for building up stamina for runners and athletes: Many runners and athletes train using this machine to build up their energy and strength. It’s an excellent alternative to training out in the open field, especially during unpredictable weather or if you’re too lazy to put on your running gear.
  • Variety: Treadmills have the option for you to control the belt’s speed. You can go slow or fast and switch it up in-between your training.


  • Not precisely like running or walking outdoors: Due to the treadmill belt automatically moving, it pulls your legs back, making you put in less effort when moving your lower body compared to when you are walking or running on solid ground. There is also no wind resistance or terrain change, so you are pretty much just moving in place.
  • May lead to injuries: If you’ve seen some of those viral videos where people fly off their treadmills, you’ll know to use this machine carefully. Always watch where you step and be sure not to go overboard with speed.
  • Cost: Simply put, good-quality treadmills are expensive. It makes use of a powerful motor to keep the belt running, plus a sturdy frame to support your entire weight. Cheap ones usually break easily and may cause more harm than good.

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How Do I Choose Which Machine is the Best for Me?

It all boils down to how and why you want to use the cardio machine. Your current physical health and fitness goal will also become factors to consider. Both devices are great for burning calories and getting a good cardio workout in the comfort of your home. You may also want to consider the price range if the budget is on your list of priorities.

If you’re prone to joint pains or are injured, especially in the lower area of your body, the elliptical might be a better choice. It is an excellent start to building up strength in that area of your body again without putting too much strain on it. However, if you want a high-impact and full-body routine, especially if you are training for marathons and walkathons, a treadmill will be your new best friend.

Which is Better for Weight Loss?

Which is Better for Weight Loss?

From a weight-loss perspective, cardio exercises have a significant impact on losing body fat and toning muscles. Neither equipment is particularly the better option, as both can give you the benefit of a good cardio workout. You need to figure out which machine will be best suited for your needs.

When combined with a healthy and well-balanced diet, proper rest, and enough fluids, using either the treadmill or the elliptical for weight loss can be highly effective. The amount of time you spend on the machine will also impact the result you are going for. The more consistently you use it, the better.


The bottom line is, both treadmill vs elliptical is great. The debate on which one is better boils down to preference. If you go to the gym, you can try out both and see which one fits you best before buying your home use. Keep in mind that both machines have plenty of manufacturers in the market, so it is best to do thorough research before purchasing one.

You want your machine to last long and give you all the benefits it promises to, after all. Health experts and fitness trainers all agree that cardio machines are an excellent addition to anyone’s workout routine. It is combined with other exercises to keep everything balanced. If you are still unsure which one to start using or buy that would fit your needs, consult a fitness professional or your primary healthcare physician.

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