Informational Guide

Treadmill vs Elliptical Machine Reviewed

Find which one is best for your requirements with this comprehensive guide.


As winter approaches, plenty of people across the world are beginning to consider their goals for the coming year. One of the most common resolutions is to ‘get fit’ by going to the gym and doing some cardio. Cardio is any exercise that raises your heart and breathing rate and improves your heart, lungs, and respiratory system's function.

Because of its intense nature, cardio can shred body fat and improve your stamina while toning your body. Fitness equipment like treadmills and ellipticals are great for those who cannot run outside; but which is better?

  • Treadmill
    A treadmill is a motor-powered stationary moving platform with a conveyor belt that moves backward, forcing the person standing on it to keep pace while moving forward.
  • Elliptical
    An elliptical is a stationary machine that simulates walking, running, or stair climbing. Because your hands and feet never leave the pedals or handles, it is easier on the joints.
  • Rowing Machine 
    A rowing machine is a seat on a ramp with an extendable handlebar designed to simulate rowing in a boat. The user simultaneously pushes their seat backward using their feet and pulls the handlebar towards their body.
  • Spin Bike
    A spin bike is a type of upright stationary bike designed to simulate cycling. There is usually no back support and two handles to lean on that track your heart rate.
  • Recumbent Bike
    A recumbent bike also simulates cycling, but features a high backed seat and is positioned so that the user leans backward rather than forward.
  • Stair Climber
    As the name implies, a stair climber is a conveyor belt of motorized steps designed to simulate walking up flights of stairs. These are usually larger than vertical climbers, which simulate climbing a ladder. 

How They Both Work


At its most basic, a treadmill is a moving platform with a motor-driven conveyor belt. The belt continuously moves to the back at an adjustable speed, forcing the user to walk or run forward at the same pace. Some common features of treadmills include:

  • LED Screen
  • Speed dials
  • Training program select system
  • Progress trackers i.e., speed, distance, calories burned, time
  • Handles with heart rate monitors
  • Safety clip

The areas of the body that are worked by a treadmill are:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Abs
  • Hips


A stationary machine with two pedals and four arms, the elliptical simulates walking, running, and stair climbing.

When the user gets on, they should hold one of the stationary arms, set their preferences, and press down with one foot while pulling a moveable handle towards their body with the opposite arm. Some typical features of ellipticals include:

  • Two sets of arms with heart rate monitors (one set is stationary, the other moveable)
  • Two large flat pedals
  • A motorLED Screen
  • Speed dials
  • Training program select system
  • Progress trackers i.e., speed, distance, calories burned, time

Ellipticals work these areas of the body:

  • Lower and upper body
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Anterior Tibialis
  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Abs
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps

Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Many factors determine a machine's quality and usefulness. However, there is one that is most important to remember; what are your goals? Your fitness goals, such as whether you want to work your upper or lower body, your budget, and how much space you have will determine which machine best suits your needs.

Benefits & Advantages


  • Easy on the Joints
    Ellipticals are perfect for those with joint problems as they are easy on the joints. Your feet and arms never leave the handles or pedals, minimizing the impact.
  • Low Impact Machine
    Getting back into fitness after getting injured is tough. Ellipticals are perfect as they do not run the risk of putting any unnecessary impact on the recovering injury.
  • Cross Training Ability
    Upper and lower body training are easy as ellipticals allow you to work your entire body at the same time.
  • Reverse Stride
    Unlike with treadmills, elliptical users can change their movement direction from forward to backward with ease to work different muscle groups.
  • Improve Balance & Mobility
    While using an elliptical, your abs will naturally engage as they work to keep you balanced and upright while you move, improving your balance and mobility at once.
  • Boost Stamina
    With regular use and varied training, elliptical users can increase their stamina over time, allowing them to exercise for more extended periods of time without stopping.


  • Versatility
    With the touch of a button, treadmill users can switch between walking, running, and various training programs to get the most out of their workout.
  • Builds Leg Strength
    As a treadmill focuses solely on your lower body, it can build muscle strength over time with regular use.
  • Emulates Natural Movement
    When using a treadmill, your body is free to move naturally as you see fit, allowing you to simulate your natural movement.
  • Improve Posture
    As long as you keep an eye on your body, it is possible to improve your posture with regular training and practice.
  • Engages Your Abs
    Depending on the incline and speed of movement, it is possible to engage your abs during a treadmill session while you run.
  • Improves Heart Health
    Cardio is any exercise that raises your heart and breathing rate, meaning that using a treadmill naturally improves your heart health through regular use.

Elliptical vs Treadmill: Drawbacks


  • Learning Curve
    Ellipticals can be intimidating and a little unusual for beginners. For new users, it may take a couple of sessions to become familiar and comfortable with using an elliptical.
  • Less Muscle Development
    Depending on the settings used, there may be less overall muscle development due to the full-body nature of the workout.


  • May Lead to Injuries/Tough on Joints 
    Due to the unyielding design of the belt and platform, moving on a treadmill is a hard-impact activity that is tough on joints, potentially leading to injuries in the future.
  • Works Fewer Muscle Groups 
    As treadmills focus on the lower body and the direction of movement cannot be changed, a treadmill works fewer muscle groups than the treadmill.

treadmill or elliptical for weight loss

Comparing for Calorie Burn & Weight Loss

Depending on the settings and effort put in by the user, both an elliptical machine and a treadmill can burn the same amount of calories during a workout.

Burning calories, working out regularly, and eating well all attribute to weight loss.

Cardio burns many calories, making ellipticals and treadmills good options for your workout regimen.

Elliptical vs Treadmill: HIIT

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a workout style that utilizes short bursts of intense activity with short periods of relaxed activity to shred calories and fat content. There are plenty of HIIT styles, and it is possible to do HIIT training on ellipticals or treadmills. In order to take full advantage of each machine, increase the incline or resistance for an added challenge. Here is one example of a HIIT workout that is suitable for beginners:

  • Warm-up at a reasonable pace for 3-5 minutes with no incline or resistance
  • Increase the resistance or incline and move at full speed for 15-30 seconds
  • Remove the resistance and incline for 30-60 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times. If this is difficult, build up to 10 rounds and adjust the resistance, incline, or time to suit your fitness level
  • Cooldown at a reasonable pace for 3-5 minutes with no incline or resistance
  • Stretch your body thoroughly with static and dynamic stretches
  • Do this workout every other day

People also Ask (FAQs)

Do ellipticals help in toning my stomach?

It is not possible to spot-reduce any area of the body. However, ellipticals do reduce overall body fat and tone your entire body.

Which is better of the two? An elliptical trainer or an arc trainer?

It depends. An arc trainer reproduces the user's natural gait, is easier on the joints, and is highly functional. An elliptical is standard, highly functional, and also easy on the joints.

Are there any safety issues or risks associated with using ellipticals?

Yes, there are. When mounting and unmounting an elliptical, always have one hand on a stationary handle for balance. Be aware of your feet and make sure that they do not come off the pedals during use. Always have at least one hand on a handle at all times during use.

How do I track progress on a treadmill?

Treadmills typically have screens showing distance, calories, and time-lapsed, but there are other ways to track your progress too. Purchase a fitness tracking watch, measure your body every few weeks, and monitor how you feel and see if the routine gets more comfortable to complete.

How long do treadmills normally last?

On average, a treadmill can last from 7-12 years, with 10 years being the most common. However, with regular maintenance and care, treadmills can last much longer than projected.


Choosing between a treadmill and an elliptical machine for your home workout can be difficult, but it is most important to go over your goals, budget, and workout preferences or health concerns before purchase. Overall, the best machine is the one that best suits your body, budget, and health goals.

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