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    Elliptical vs. Treadmill: What Are the Workout and Health Differences?

    December 10, 2021

    Elliptical vs. Treadmill: What Are the Workout and Health Differences?

    Gone are the days when fitness fanatics had just one or two workout machines to choose from at the gym or for indoor workouts. The elliptical, recumbent bike, rower, and stair climber are among the several cardio machines bound to help you break a sweat. 

    However, the treadmill and the elliptical run are unmatched among aerobic exercise machines. Their ability to simulate an authentic running or walking motion while boosting cardio fitness allows for a varying energy expenditure depending on the intensity you choose.

    Although there are similarities between these machines, the main question is, elliptical vs. treadmill: what are the workout and health differences?

    This article will look into the pros and cons of each machine when it comes to working out and overall health impact. Read on to learn which would be a better fit for your routine. 

    The Elliptical

    This machine gives off the stationary cross country skiing vibe in the sense that it features two-foot holders and two pole-like handles to grab on to while you work out. However, the movement of the elliptical is different.

    While the handles pump back and forth, your feet cycle in the shape of an ellipse, which is where the term "elliptical " originates. The elliptical targets your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and several other muscles of the lower body. You can customize its setting to increase resistance for an added muscle workout or change the incline. 

    Elliptical Pros

    • Perfect for low-impact exercise or active recovery
    • Targets the upper and lower body
    • Offers backward movement settings to isolate the hamstrings and glutes
    • Ideal for high-intensity interval training workouts
    • Great for weight-loss goals

    Elliptical Cons

    • It doesn't provide functional movement training.
    • It doesn't accurately track mileage
    • It doesn't provide strength training. 
    • May or may not allow incline customization

    The Treadmill 

    This machine features a moving conveyor belt that facilitates stationary walking or running. It grants control of speed and incline and lets you keep track of your distance, pace, and program interval training. 

    The treadmill targets the lower back when in walking mode. Sprinting on the treadmill tightens the core and burns the calves, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and abs after a thorough workout. Avid runners and racers who want high-intensity interval training without dealing with adverse weather prefer treadmills.

    Treadmill Pros 

    • Tightness the core while strengthening your lower body
    • Convenient for race training when outdoor weather is adverse
    • Assists in speed training
    • Useful in programming HIIT workouts
    • Great for working on running form
    • Adjustable inclination
    • Builds leg strength
    • Perfect for weight loss

    Treadmill Cons

    • Not ideal for those recovering from joint injuries without supervision from a physical therapist
    • May lead to bone and joint injuries
    • Works fewer muscle groups

    Not ideal for perfecting running gait how to Pick the Best Machine for You

    Deciding on which machine is best for you depends entirely on your physical health and fitness goals. While both machines are almost equally beneficial for weight loss and thorough cardiovascular workouts, one may offer benefits that the other can't. For instance, if you're injury-prone or suffer from a musculoskeletal condition, the elliptical may be the machine for you because:

    • It offers an excellent cardiovascular workout without straining your bones and joints.
    • It may be an injury risk while you workout.
    • It provides upper and lower body workouts over a shorter period. 

    Alternatively, the treadmill is ideal for you if:

    • You are not prone to injuries and have no joint issues.
    • You're working towards a specific goal, like training for a race.
    • You want to build glute and leg muscles.

    Bottom Line

    The elliptical and treadmill both offer effective cardiovascular workouts and are effective machines depending on your individual goals. If you suffer from a musculoskeletal issue or are prone to injuries, stick with the elliptical. The treadmill is a better choice to burn calories while building up glute and leg muscles.