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The Elliptical vs The Treadmill

A clash of cultures at the gym? You have your treadmill people who consist of the “walking warriors” or “running renegades” and then you have the elliptical folks that consist of the “moonwalkers” and “no hands crew”. Each seem to get a pretty good sweat doing their respected workouts, and both also can provide a false image of a workout being done. The question many ask is, which is better?


What this article can do is cover the pros/benefits to each machine and then one can make a choice to use whichever.




This is the grand daddy of the cardio machines. So many gyms have them and at times are all being used. Also, many homes have them as well, but sadly are used to hang clothes or store boxes on. Feeling guilty yet? The treadmill possesses:


  • Versatility- You can start off with a fast walk and go into a dead sprint. You also have a choice between incline percentages or training programs.
  • Mimics Natural Movements- With many goofy machines out there that are everything but “natural moving”, the treadmill keeps it simple with emulating walking, jogging, or sprinting.
  • Higher Intensity Workout- People can say what they want, nothing beats running when it comes to burning calories. The treadmill will work you and wear you out, but the results are their if you can bare through the work.


The Elliptical


Maybe more popular these days than the treadmill, some may call it the “flavor of the week” when it comes to gym equipment. The whole body moves in this fluent, non-weight baring motion. It looks like it is working a person pretty good but maybe not as intimidating. The elliptical possesses:


  • Non-Impact Workouts- If a person has some joint problems or maybe lower back issues, the elliptical may be a good fit. It mimics a running motion without the body ever experiencing impact to the ground.
  • Upper Body Work- Elliptical have handles that can allow the user to get a good workout with the upper body and lower body together. Increase the tension and level on the machine and a person can get a good burn and sweat going in no time.
  • Output Level Perception is Lower- Not to get too nerdy here, but this one is important. Studies have shown that when users are done using the machine, they feel like they did not do as much work as opposed to a treadmill for the same amount of time. The results of those studies indicate that the elliptical can burn close to the same number of calories as a treadmill while the user feels like they are not doing as much. That’s not a bad deal, right?


Fitness is full of “this or that” mind sets. Truthfully, one just has to find what they can stick with and do consistently. Sure, one machine may burn more calories in a shorter amount of time or one may be easier for the user, but at the very least the person is doing something more than just sitting on the couch.


Treadmill or elliptical, it truly does not matter in the end. One must see what their fit is and what they like more. Maybe doing both would be best, mixing it up a bit.


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