For the longest time, the elliptical and treadmill have battled for superiority.
Both are useful pieces of equipment, and each offers some unique benefits (and, sadly, drawbacks).
Today, we’ll go over some of their pros and cons and help you decide which is more useful for you.
Ready? Let’s go.
Pros And Cons Of Elliptical Trainers
First, let’s take a look at some fantastic benefits of the elliptical machine:
1. It Offers a Variety of Programs
Thanks to the ability to adjust resistance and pedal incline, the elliptical machine offers an array of different programs you can do.
For example, if you want to build more endurance and burn more calories, you can decrease the resistance. If you’re more interested in building whole-body strength, then increase the resistance. And, if you want to emphasize your butt muscles, you can tweak the pedal incline and see what works best.
2. It’s Easy to Learn
The elliptical is a fantastic choice for everyone looking to get started with fitness because it’s easy to learn.
When most folks hit the gym for the first time, they feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of exercises. Plus, most take time and effort to learn, which can make it even more challenging.
But, hopping on the elliptical and becoming good enough can happen in mere minutes. That way, you can gain some momentum and develop the habit of regular exercise.
3. It Makes It Easier For You to Burn Fat
At its core, burning fat comes down to creating a calorie deficit. You have to consume fewer calories than you burn, thus forcing your body to tap into its stored energy reserves.
An elliptical is a fantastic tool you can use to create a calorie deficit because it helps increase your daily energy expenditure. That way, you can consume more calories and burn more fat without having to restrict yourself too severely.
For example, if you do five cardio sessions every week and each helps you burn around 350 calories, that would equate to a weekly expenditure of 1,750. That’s roughly half a pound of pure fat loss.
Before moving to the treadmill, let’s take a look at some drawbacks of the elliptical:
1. It Can Lead to Smaller Muscle Gains in the Lower Body
A common critique against the elliptical is that it may lead to less significant lower body development. The idea is, because the elliptical is low-impact, it causes less stress to the lower body and we can’t expect to build as much leg strength or size.
In that same line of thinking, some experts suggest that the elliptical doesn’t improve bone mineral density as effectively as other activities like running and lifting weights.
2. It May Not Be Beneficial For Certain Sports
The motion of the elliptical isn’t the same as running, so it doesn’t have a direct carryover to our running performance. Our core and lower body musculature are engaged differently, thus preventing us from excelling in certain sports.
So, if you want to improve in a sport that requires speed, agility, and running, then a better option might be treadmill training. And speaking of that:
Pros and Cons of Treadmills
First, let’s take a look at some pros:
1. It’s Convenient
One of the greatest benefits of the treadmill is that it offers a lot of conveniences. For example, if you’re an avid runner, but the cold months are approaching, you might find yourself unable to stick with your regular program due to bad weather.
The great thing is, with a treadmill, you can keep the momentum going and still reap the benefits of running without leaving your home.
2. It Burns a Lot of Calories And Aids With Weight Loss
Treadmills help us burn a lot of calories, which makes them a great tool for people who are looking to shed some extra fat. For reference, a person who weighs 160 pounds can burn about 330 calories by running for 30 minutes at a speed of 5 mph.
And even if you don’t have the aerobic capacity to jog for a long time, you can still set a higher incline and a lower speed for incline walking.
3. It Ensures Precision And a Consistent Pace of Training
One of the greatest benefits of the treadmill is that it keeps you in check. Instead of you dictating the pace, the treadmill does. So, even as you get tired, the treadmill will keep you running at a consistent pace.
The elliptical, on the other hand, is not like that. With it, you dictate your speed on every revolution, and it’s much easier to slack off once you get a bit tired.
But, like most things, the treadmill also has some disadvantages. Here are three:
1. It Is High-Impact
Because you have to support your entire body on your legs, the treadmill causes stress to your hips, knees, and ankles. Because of that, it might not be the best choice for overweight individuals who are getting started.
2. It Can Get Boring
Outdoor running is fun, challenging, and highly variable. You can run across different terrains, speed up and slow down as you please, and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful sceneries.
The treadmill, on the other hand, can be tedious because it offers none of these benefits.
3. It Mostly Works Your Lower Body
Yes, one of the most significant drawbacks of the treadmill is that it mostly trains your lower body – your calves, in particular. Because of that, you can also expect to burn slightly fewer calories when compared to full-body activities like using the elliptical or rowing machine.
Elliptical vs. Treadmill – Which Is Better?
The elliptical and treadmill are good types of equipment, and using either of the two consistently is good.
With that said, the elliptical is probably better for most people as it’s low-impact (meaning, it’s suitable even for overweight beginners), it trains your entire body, and it’s easy to learn. Plus, if you’re overweight or suffer from chronic lower body pains, the treadmill could do more harm than good.
With that said, if you prefer running and the potential downsides don’t bother you, the treadmill is a perfectly fine choice.