Treadmill vs. Elliptical: Which is Best for You?

One of the most common topics of conversation you hear in places like David Barton Gym is the treadmill vs. elliptical debate. Which one is better when it comes to improving flexibility and burning calories? The truth is both machines have benefits, but you have to understand what each one can do before you can decide which is better.


The Benefits of Treadmills

Treadmill-GymMembershipFeesThe biggest benefit of a treadmill is its versatility, as it can simulate a brisk walk, sprinting uphill and everything in between thanks to multiple incline and speed options and programs. Furthermore, a treadmill is very capable of simulating natural sprints, jogging and walking, so the learning curve is very slight.

For gym aficionados, the treadmill allows them to work to the limit since it requires a lot of effort out of the body. Aside from burning calories, the constant walking and running strengthens your muscles and bones while improving your posture. Finally, there’s a reason why treadmills are staples in gyms around the world, and it’s because they have been tried and tested much more so than other cardio machine.

Potential Drawbacks

Treadmills can be hard on your ankle joints, knees and hips especially if you run at a very high setting. To avoid this and other problems you should always warm up and stretch before using it. You should also bear in mind that high intensity treadmill workouts can be difficult if you are just a beginner, and holding on the handles as you run can be somewhat awkward. In addition, you must make sure you’re wearing the belt properly to avoid muscle problems.

Benefits of Elliptical Machines

Elliptical-GymMembershipFeesThe elliptical machine has many followers too mainly because of non-impact conditioning. In other words, the machine allows you to simulate running without the heavy impact that you feel on a treadmill. Elliptical trainers today also have moveable handles that enable you to work out both the upper and lower body at the same time. In addition, elliptical machines permit striding in reverse, allowing you to work on various muscle groups and focus on your quads more.

In addition, people who work out on elliptical machines think they’re not working out as much when it fact they do, so they burn a lot of calories without too much strenuous effort. As the latest studies show, most people who use elliptical machines underestimate their output, meaning they’re not as stressed out when compared to using other gym equipment.

Potential Drawbacks

One of the drawbacks with an elliptical trainer is it isn’t as dynamic as a treadmill because it doesn’t have any incline adjustment feature. Elliptical trainers also don’t have the weight bearing effect that treadmills do. This is actually a good feature in a way, as it reduces the chances of injury. However, the fact that the pedals are suspended means your bones and muscles are not strengthened the way a treadmill will. Among older people and those suffering from weak bones or muscles, this is an important consideration.

Finally, there’s the fact that due to the design of an elliptical trainer, you could end up using the trainer’s own momentum for powering, which defeats the purpose. To avoid this, you must get acquainted with the machine before using it.

Treadmills and Elliptical Machines Calorie Burning Comparison

A recent study conducted by the Wisconsin Medical College showed that jogging on a treadmill for 60 minutes will burn 705 to 866 calories, while an elliptical trainer burns 773 calories over the same period. Other studies have been conducted and so far they all point to a slight advantage for the treadmill. When it comes to improving aerobic capacity and fat loss, both provide the same benefit.


In the end it really doesn’t matter if you get a membership at LA Fitness
or another gym, because both treadmill and elliptical trainer are essential workout equipment and should be incorporated into your workouts.

If you’re looking for high intensity interval training and want to improve cardiovascular health, an elliptical machine will benefit you. If you’re been working out for a while now and want to improve your performance or challenge yourself, a treadmill will be ideal because you’re supporting your body weight, leading to more calories being burned. However, if you are just coming back from an injury or have a nagging injury that running makes worse, try an elliptical trainer.

If you’re looking for additional versatility and want to push your body to the limit, use a treadmill. But as pointed out you can actually use both to reap the benefits and at the same time work more muscle groups in your body. In addition, using different machines while in the gym prevent monotony and will keep you interested. What’s most important though is that you check each machine before using it because they are not built equally.

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