Difference Between Elliptical and Treadmill

The two most common cardio machines that are found in gyms are the elliptical and the treadmill. Both of these machines are effective cardiovascular workout devices and will help you burn calories. These machines function quite differently. Most people often wonder whether they should use an elliptical or a treadmill. The elliptical and the treadmill both have pros and cons. This article will examine the differences between the elliptical and the treadmill.

A Look at the Treadmill

What Are the Pros of Treadmill’s?
Treadmills were created back in the 1800’s. All gyms have them and many homes as well. Their longevity as far as exercise equipment has made them the subject of many research studies. These studies have lead way to many enhancements and one could say that they all the flaws have been honed in making treadmills a perfect piece of cardio equipment.

Most treadmills offer a wide range of options allowing the user to go from a brisk walk to an uphill climb and then to a sprint. The users has the ability to set the incline, speed, and in some cases the treadmill will offer multiple training programs.

Many of the new treadmill models have designs that mimic natural walking, jogging, and running movements. This helps to propel your body weight causing you to burn calories at a higher rate. Many people don’t realize it, but activities like running, jogging, and walking help to strengthen your bones and muscles. Strong bones and muscles help you to have good posture and can help to prolong their use.

What Are the Cons of Treadmill’s?
Although the treadmill has undergone enhancements that have made them the top go to piece of cardio equipment that does not mean that treadmills aren’t without flaws. Despite being good for the bones and muscles, treadmills can be particularly harsh on the joints. When the user runs on a treadmill without stretching or warming up first will cause stress to your ankle, knee, spine, and hips joints. Latest enhancements do include shock absorbers but the impact is still significant.

Many people want to start out high or matching the level of someone else when using a treadmill. When the skill level does not match incline sprints o other high intensity movements can be a safety concern. Another safety concern is the handles. For those that want their heart rate while running, grabbing the handles can pose quite a challenge. The same studies that have been great for treadmill enhancements have also pointed out some flaws. The quality of the treadmill that is used is an important factor to protect the body from muscle imbalances and posture problems especially the positioning and the size of the belt.

What About the Elliptical?

What Are the Pros of the Elliptical?
Elliptical machine are praised for allowing you to emulate running without causing a strong impact on your joints. They are equipped with handles that move so the user gets an upper body work while working on the lower body. Different muscle groups can be targeted with the elliptical running in reverse. Studies on the elliptical show that people are actually working out more than they know they are with an elliptical meaning that the user burns more calories without putting in more effort than they would with a treadmill.

What Are the Cons of the Elliptical?
In contrast to a treadmill the ability to incline on an elliptical is either not present with the current machines on the market or they are not as effective. The elliptical is also designed to have less impact and while that is great in theory this means that you won’t get that extra calorie burn that is caused by the weight bearing effect. Remember it is the weight bearing exercise action of the treadmill that helps to strengthen our bones and muscles. Another con is that most of the calorie burning calculators on the elliptical vastly overestimate the amount of calories burned making the user think they have burned more calories than they actually have.


Both machines are great cardiovascular machines. It is recommended that an elliptical be coupled with an high intensity interval training routine for optimal fat loss. All in all a treadmill will give you the most calories burned since the machine causes you to bear your own weight.