A question I often get asked by my readers is whether a treadmill or elliptical trainer is better for losing weight.Â Well, it depends, and the answer is which machine are you the most likely to use in the pursuit of your fitness goals.
Weight Loss on a Treadmill
The advantage of a treadmill is that it accommodates a form or exercise that comes natural to us, walking or running.Â The way you burn calories on a treadmill is that you adjust the speed and the incline.Â Obviously, the faster you move and the steeper you set the incline the more intense cardio burn your will experience.Â Â In addition, by raising the incline you simulate hiking up hills or mountains and you target additional lower body muscles.
The one disadvantage to a treadmill is that you do have a form of impact as your foot strikes the deck, however, the impact is significantly less than running on the street or sidewalk because of the shock absorption that is built in.
Weight Loss on an Elliptical Trainer
One of the major advantages to an elliptical trainer is that it works out both your lower and upper body.Â And there are some controversial studies that suggest when exercising on an elliptical you are able to exercise harder with a lower perception of exertion. In other words, you are burning more calories, but you do notice it as much. (See abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14625510). Regardless, the benefit of an elliptical trainer is that you can target muscles in both your upper and lower body.
Another benefit of an elliptical trainer is the reduced impact.Â Your lower body moves in an elliptical motion, and your feet never leave the pedals.Â In fact, the original elliptical trainers were designed to assist individuals with previous injuries from exercising.
Elliptical trainers utilize a form of resistance to increase the level of cardio exertion. By increasing the resistance the user must exert more energy to keep the motion going.Â Â Furthermore, most elliptical trainers include an incline feature that works in a very similar fashion as the incline on a treadmill.Â Â You can increase the incline of the elliptical motion and also increase your cardio exertion (Click here to see elliptical trainer reviews.).
However, some people find the dual action and the elliptical motion to be a drawback.Â They are not comfortable with the feel of the exercise, and prefer the simplicity of the tried and true treadmill.
So which machine is best for burning calories and losing weight?Â It is a matter of preference and it comes down to which one you will most likely use on a regular basis.
What is important is that every time you workout on either a treadmill or an elliptical trainer, you push yourself.Â That means you gradually increase the speed, incline or resistance.Â Â You will find that except for the dirt cheap machines, all treadmill and ellipticals come with installed workout programs.Â With treadmills they control the speed and incline, with ellipticals they control resistance and the incline.Â By varying the challenge you can break out of the monotony of exercising in place.Â These programs are designed to help you lose weight.Â In fact, some utilize interval training that is used by professional athletes.Â With interval training you go from an intense cardio burn to a cool down period.
You will also find a number of treadmills and ellipticals that allows you to track your progress.Â Some store you results directly on the console, while others let you transfer your exercise stats to an online account, where you can graphically view your progress.Â Studies have shown that individuals that monitor their progress are more likely to achieve their fitness goals.
In conclusion, you want to find the machine that works best for you in achieving your fitness goals.Â I personally have both a treadmill and elliptical trainer, and I split my workout between the two. Â I like the upper body workout that I get on my elliptical, but I also feel I burn more calories running on an incline on my treadmill. Both machines have their unique benefits in keeping me healthy, slim and in shape.
More thoughts on elliptical machines vs. treadmills.