Elliptical vs Treadmill: How Do They Differ?

Purchasing home gym equipment is a significant investment. If you are hesitating between an elliptical machine and a treadmill, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Here is everything you need to know about elliptical vs treadmill.

What Is The Difference Between Elliptical And Treadmill Workouts?

product photo of a Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machineproduct photo of a Treadmill

A treadmill allows you to walk, run, or use a combination of the two to vary the intensity of your workout. Some treadmills give you the possibility to adjust the inclination of the machine to get a more intense workout.

An elliptical machine is designed to reproduce the movements you would perform while walking. An elliptical workout includes pushing on the handles of the machines with your hands and performing a gliding motion with your feet.

Elliptical machines are meant to replicate walking or running, but the handles of the machine allow you to get an upper body workout as well.

What Are The Benefits Of Elliptical Workouts?

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If we had to compare elliptical vs treadmill machines, we would have to start by stating that both machines allow you to get an excellent aerobic workout. Running on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine will get your heart pumping and help you lose weight.

However, there are some benefits associated with elliptical machines. First of all, an elliptical allows you to get a no-impact workout. This reduces your risks of injury and is ideal if you need to avoid impact workouts.

This is why an elliptical machine would be best if you suffer from joint pain, back pain, or from a condition like osteoporosis. If you want to be active to recover from an injury, a no-impact workout would be a safe option.

If you suffer from obesity, an elliptical workout is better than running on a treadmill. There is a risk of experiencing joint pain if you run on a treadmill, and getting a full body workout with an elliptical will help you lose weight faster.

Being able to exercise several muscle groups at once is one of the main advantages of using an elliptical machine. You can save time by working on your legs, chest, back, shoulders, and arms at the same time.

It is possible to burn 400 calories during a 30-minute elliptical workout, but keep in mind that the amount of calories burned varies in function of your weight and of the speed and resistance of the machine.

What Are The Benefits Of A Treadmill Workout?

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Walking or running on a treadmill will help you develop your resistance. This type of workout is excellent to promote heart health and lose weight.

A 180-pound person could burn 170 calories by running for 10 minutes on a treadmill. A 120-pound person would burn 110 calories in 10 minutes. The amount of calories burned is similar to an elliptical workout.

A treadmill workout will help maintain joint health and will have a positive impact on your mood. Running on a treadmill can also help you improve your running technique. This is important if you want to eventually jog outside or need to prepare for a running event.

Are There Any Downsides To Elliptical Or Treadmill Workouts?

Just like with any other type of workout, you need to be consistent to get results. Here are the cons of elliptical and treadmill workouts.

Downsides Of Elliptical Machines

You need to know how to use an elliptical machine to get good results. You can end up with back pain if you adopt a bad posture when using this machine.

You might be tempted to slouch and use the handles of the machine to support your weight. You should instead stand up straight and rest your weight on the pedals of the machine.

Working out on an elliptical machine requires fewer efforts compared to running unless you increase the speed and resistance of the machine. You might be tempted to keep the machine on a low setting for an easy workout.

Elliptical machines usually can’t be adjusted. If you are short, there is a risk of overextending your knee during an elliptical workout unless you can find a machine adapted to your size.

Some people prefer the sensation of jogging. Using an elliptical machine is somewhat similar to cycling in a standing position. This might not be a workout that you enjoy.

If you are thinking about purchasing home gym equipment, keep in mind that elliptical machines are typically more expensive than treadmills.

Cons Of Treadmills

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The main downside of treadmills is that these machines allow you to work on your cardio and lower body but you won’t get an upper body workout.

Running is a high-impact exercise. Your body is going to absorb a shock every time your feet hit the treadmill. This won’t be an issue if you are in good health and have a good running form.

However, there is a risk of injuries associated with any kind of high-impact workout. Your risks of injury increase if you have a poor running form, if you aren’t wearing quality running shoes, or if you suffer from a condition such as osteoporosis.

A treadmill isn’t ideal if you are recovering from a knee or ankle injury, or if you are overweight.

If you are thinking about purchasing a treadmill for your home gym, you should know that these machines typically take up more space than elliptical machines.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout

You need to know how to get the most out of your elliptical or treadmill workout so you can compare both options and decide which one is best for you.

Your Ideal Treadmill Workout

several treadmill machines facing the window in the gym

Walking on a treadmill is a good way to warm up but won’t help you burn calories. You will only burn 200 to 400 calories an hour if you walk.

You will get better results if you plan your treadmill workout ahead of time and set some goals. Here is a treadmill workout that will help you develop your resistance and work on your upper body strength:

  • Sprint for three minutes at a speed that is five miles per hour faster than your usual jogging speed.
  • Do some resistance exercises for five minutes. You can either do push-ups or lift weights.
  • Sprint for three minutes at a higher speed.
  • Go back to your resistance exercise.
  • Repeat.

Here is another treadmill workout that will help you lose weight and increase your speed:

  • Walk for one minute.
  • Run for one minute.
  • Walk for one minute.
  • Run for one minute at a higher speed than the previous rep.
  • Repeat.

If you want an intense treadmill workout, try jogging for 20 minutes with the inclination set at 10 percent.

Remember to introduce some variety in your workout routine to keep things interesting. Running on a treadmill can get boring if you don’t try new routines.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Elliptical Workout

a line up of several Elliptical Machines

Remember to adopt a good posture during your elliptical workout. Don’t use the handles to support your weight. Engage your abs and keep your back and shoulders straight.

You can work on your cardio and resistance by starting at your usual pace. Wait two minutes and switch to a higher speed for two minutes. Go back to your usual pace and repeat.

You can also progressively increase the speed, resistance, or incline of the machine to get an intense workout. Use five-minute intervals and increase the speed, resistance, or incline progressively.

Just like with treadmill workouts, elliptical workouts can become boring if you don’t switch things up. Try different approaches and set some goals for each workout.

Which Workout Is Right For You?

a spacious gym studio with treadmill and other gym equipment

If you are hesitating between an elliptical machine and a treadmill for your home gym, figure out what your budget is. Elliptical machines tend to be more expensive.

You should also take into consideration how much space is available for your home gym. A treadmill will typically take up more space.

Consider which workout is more enjoyable for you. You might feel more energized after getting a full body workout on an elliptical machine or might enjoy the sensation of running on a treadmill. If you like to watch TV during your workouts, an elliptical machine is probably best since you will be less likely to injure yourself.

An elliptical would also be best if need to avoid impact workouts for one reason or another. This is especially important if you are overweight or suffer from joint or back pain. If you have a bad running form, this is something you will need to address before you start working out on a treadmill.

The elliptical vs treadmill question isn’t relevant if your goal is to work on your cardio or lose weight. These are goals you can achieve with both machines.

However, an elliptical would be best if your goal is to develop upper body strength. On the other hand, a treadmill would be best if your goal is to improve your running form and train for an event such as a marathon.

Head to a local gym so you can try both workouts. If you are still can’t decide, get an elliptical machine. You will be able to get a full body workout at home and can jog outside whenever you feel like it.

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