Are Elliptical Machines Better Than Treadmills?

Elliptical machines and treadmills are two of the most popular pieces of equipment in the modern gym. Both provide the opportunity for individuals to obtain a cardiovascular workout in an indoor environment. So which one should you use? Elliptical machines are a more recent invention, so you might assume that they are better, but treadmills have been around a long time for a reason. The truth is that both machines have their advantages, and only after understanding them can you decide which is better for you.

The Elliptical vs the Treadmill

First up is the treadmill. This piece of equipment has been the standard of indoor cardiovascular workouts for quite a while. The biggest advantage of the treadmill is that it closely mimics the experience of running over ground. The muscles it works are identical to those used in long-distance runs. Different inclines mimic uneven terrain, adding even more versatility. Put it all together, and the conclusion is that if you are training for an activity that involves running, then the treadmill is your best bet.

Advantages of the elliptical machine

If, however, you just want to get the best cardiovascular workout that you can, the elliptical machine is probably the way to go for the following reasons. To begin with, the elliptical is not as pounding on leg joints as the treadmill. This is especially advantageous for those that have had lower extremity injuries or are prone to joint problems. Also, while the treadmill focuses more on a lower body workout, the elliptical includes handlebars in addition to foot pedals to provide an upper-body element.

The involvement of the upper body makes the elliptical a more efficient cardiovascular workout experience than the less-involved treadmill. While getting used to the motion can take a few visits to the gym, after the adjustment has been made, you can achieve a better workout in a shorter amount of time. With the ability to provide different levels of resistance and the addition of different workout modes on newer elliptical machines, these machines provide the better option for general cardiovascular workouts.

Advantages of the treadmill

Like many things, in the end the choice between these two indoor machines comes down to an “it depends.” The serious athlete in training will probably get more out of the treadmill. The casual, fat-burning gym member will probably get more out of the elliptical. Regardless, both of these machines will remain mainstays in indoor workouts for years to come.

H. H. Morgan writes for the blog to help people buy the best elliptical trainer for home workouts. He writes about the best-selling elliptical brands (i.e. Proform elliptical reviews) to help people save money on their purchases.


This post was written by a guest author and edited by Hive Health Media Staff. If you would like to submit health or fitness news, click here.

2 thoughts on “Are Elliptical Machines Better Than Treadmills?

  • December 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I s it really a question of which one is better? To me they are both great tools for fitness. And its always a good idea to mix up your work outs. If you want an affordable way to have both a treadmill and an elliptical at home try, or your local Play It Again Sports.

  • December 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    For cardio, such as HIIT work, I think its hard to beat an elliptical on max resistance. I can easilly get my heart rate into the 190’s on an elliptical, when trying to emulate the workout with sprints (not on treadmill but outside) its really hard to get heart rate above 160-170. Also, I think it might be really difficult to do true HIIT on a treadmill as you have to ramp up the speed and then be able to ramp down the speed (and your supposed to be doing max efforts) – you can’t just go all out and speed up and slow down as easily like you can with elliptical.


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