Elliptical or Treadmill – Which One Will Give You the Best Workout?

by Jamie Miller on October 24, 2013

Elliptical or Treadmill – Which One Will Give You the Best Workout?

If you’re going to spend your time and energy exercising, you probably want to use the machine that will give you the best return on investment.

You want to burn as many calories as you can in the shortest amount of time but you may also have concerns about the SAFETY and EFFECTIVENESS of the machine you choose to use. The fact is that both machines can give you a great workout but both machines also have some pros and cons.

We will take a look at the pros and cons of ellipticals and treadmills to help you decide which machine will be best for you.

The Pros and Cons of an Elliptical

Pros:

A low-impact workout – an elliptical machine allows your body to move in a similar fashion to running but without the impact. Your joints won’t have to endure the stress and pounding they would get if you were running.

A full body workout – many elliptical machines have movable handlebars which will allow you to work your upper body and lower body at the same time.

Target different muscle groups – many elliptical machines also have the ability to reverse the stride which will allow you to put more emphasis on training your quads versus your calves and hamstrings.

You’re working out harder than you think – there have been studies that asked their subjects to rate the intensity of their workouts. The subjects of the studies underestimated the intensity of their workout based on their heart rate. Basically, studies show that you’re getting a better workout with an elliptical than you realize.

Cons:

Limited options – treadmills allow you to vary the intensity of your workout by adjusting the speed and incline. This is not an option with most ellipticals, and even when that option is available on an elliptical, it’s not very effective.

Low-impact has its drawbacks – although a low-impact workout is great for relieving stress from your joints, the weight-bearing effect you get from running helps increase bone density, making your bones stronger, and you don’t get that benefit from an elliptical.

Using momentum – On an elliptical, you can use momentum to keep the machine going, rather than using your muscles.

The Pros and Cons of a Treadmill

Pros:

Versatility – a treadmill gives you a lot of options. You can walk, jog, or run and you can also adjust the incline of the machine. This can give you a workout that is similar to running outdoors, going up and down hills or running faster when you have the energy and slowing down a bit when you need to recover.

An intense workout – moving your body takes effort and burns calories, moving your body uphill or at faster speeds (or both) burns even more calories. You also get the weight-bearing effect that you don’t get from an elliptical, which will help build muscle and strengthen bones.

Cons:

High-impact workout – running can put extra stress on your ankles, knees, hips and spine. However, some treadmills have a cushioned deck to help reduce impact.

Bad posture – treadmills with a smaller belt size will force some people to change the way they walk or run, and that can be dangerous. If you’re treadmill is large enough, that shouldn’t be a problem though.

Elliptical or Treadmill – Which One Gives You a Better Calorie Burn?

There have been some studies showing that people jogging on a treadmill for an hour can burn more calories than people training on an elliptical for the same amount of time.

However, the differences were not very significant.

When it comes to calorie burning and fat loss, you can get a great workout whether you are using a treadmill, an elliptical, or even a stair climber.

In our research, it’s clear that either machine can give you great workout. The choice of which one to buy will come down to whether you want a low-impact workout or the added benefit of building some extra muscle and increasing bone density.For people with bad knees, an elliptical might be a better option but for a lot of people a treadmill, especially one with a cushioned deck, is a great choice.