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Elliptical Bike vs Treadmill, Is One Better Than the Other?

Ellipticals and treadmills are two of the most popular cardio machines available. Both provide a great cardio and calorie-busting workout but each has its own positives and drawbacks. If you are interested in doing cardio exercises at home but don’t know which equipment best suits for you here are the pros and cons of each type of machine.

The Pros of the Treadmill

  • Natural Body Movement: A treadmill moves your muscles in a natural way whether you are jogging or sprinting.
  • Variety of Workload: Treadmills are equipped with the ability to change speed and incline, offering the user a high intensity running workout or a gentler light jogging or walking cool down. They are great if you want to do speed intervals and endurance training with running.
  • High Development: Treadmills have long been a staple of gym equipment, improved over years to reach a pinnacle of development that other cardio machines have yet to reach.

Treadmill Cons

  • Tough on Joints: Running, in general, is known to put stress on the joints. Poorer quality treadmills have less shock absorption and can cause significant damage to your knees and ankles. Elliptical trainers, on the other hand, are low-impact and easy on the joints.
  • Safety: High-intensity workouts can be dangerous if you are not used to the machine or fit enough to cope with the workout intensity, so always use the safety catch and have some free space behind the treadmill when you are running. Do not use a treadmill that is right in front of a wall.
  • Ergonomics: The handles and controls on some treadmills are not easy to use while running. Trying to see heart rate levels or changing settings while running can be an awkward experience if the console is not large enough. Luckily, modern treadmills are easy to use and come with easy to reach buttons and knobs.

Elliptical Pros

  • Low-impact Workout: Elliptical machines work muscles in a similar way to a running motion without the impact on joints.
  • Upper Body Training: Elliptical machines generally include handles that enable an upper body workout while still working on the lower body.
  • Easier Workout: Although elliptical workouts still reach a similar impact on the muscles used, the exertion on the body is not felt as much. So if you are a beginner you will have an easier time adapting to your workout.

Elliptical Cons

  • Lack of Incline: Most lower end ellipticals lack an incline feature so the same intensity of a treadmill cannot be reached.
  • Momentum: Using an elliptical machine on a low level can take the workload off your muscles as the momentum of the machine takes over.

Elliptical vs. Treadmill

The bottom line comes down to what the user is looking for and her fitness goal. An elliptical machine can offer a great cardio workout while having less impact on joints and less chance of injury. An elliptical is highly recommended for those at a lower fitness level trying to build up their cardio. For more experienced users and those with a higher fitness level, the treadmill offers a great high intensity and calorie burning workout. But the risk of joint damage and injury increases with the intensity of the workout. Variation is key, incorporating both machines into a weekly workout schedule is a good idea to exercise different muscle groups and avoiding workout monotony.