The elliptical cross trainer and treadmill are among the most popular exercise machines around. Both encourage walking and running movements to burn calories and boost cardiovascular fitness. But which of these two gym machines is more effective? Here’s a list of factors that can help you choose your perfect equipment match.
Why Choose an Elliptical Trainer
Elliptical machines have foot pedals that you can step on at your pace. While pedalling, you can simultaneously push and pull the handlebars. Doing this full-body exercise lets you work out your hamstrings, quads, glutes, arm muscles and upper back muscles. But you can also use this equipment hands-free to flatten and tone core muscles.
With this combination of movements, your heart rate goes up, giving you the cardio health and weight loss goals you need. But what makes the elliptical trainer a better choice are the following.
It protects the joints.
Walking or running exercise involves constant pounding of your ankles, knees, heels and feet against the hard ground. Some cannot tolerate this jarring motion, though, especially those with certain health conditions.
But the elliptical cross trainer is a low-impact machine. And that means it can give you a good cardio workout with minimal stress on your back, hips and joints. Elliptical training is then ideal for:
- older adults with joint pain or problems
- patients with lower-back issues, arthritis or osteoporosis
- women who want to exercise during menstruation
- mums recovering from a caesarean delivery
- workout beginners or those returning from a gym hiatus
It allows injury recovery.
Low-impact exercises are ideal for athletes who are at risk of various sports accidents. Compared with a treadmill, the elliptical keeps your feet on the pedal. Using this piece of equipment can then reduce your chances of slipping or falling while keeping yourself fit and recovering from an injury.
Elliptical exercises also let you imitate the stair-climbing motion, which helps with recovery. This movement, in turn, promotes joint and muscle strength. Plus, you can even adjust the machine’s resistance level to match your progressing abilities and record your training data.
It provides a full-body workout.
If you’re after exercise variety and flexibility, the elliptical will not disappoint. While you can pedal forward and increase your resistance or speed, you can also move your legs backwards. This way, you get to exercise other muscle groups in your lower extremities.
Of course, you can reach for its arm handles so you can simultaneously work your shoulders, chest and back. Whether you choose to go hands-free or not, either movement involves your core muscles to keep your balance. Compared with treadmills, elliptical machines offer better, full-body muscle toning.
It burns calories with low body impact.
All exercise machines and workout routines help you achieve probably everyone’s ultimate goal: to lose excess body weight. But it’s hard to identify which of them can burn more calories. For one thing, your current weight, workout intensity, diet regimen and several other factors can affect your weight loss speed.
But what makes the elliptical machine a good option is its low-impact feature. Findings from a 2010 study showed that both treadmill and elliptical burn calories at the same level. However, a low-impact elliptical makes you feel less sore after working out. As a result, you are likely to exercise more often and, perhaps, be more eager to combine your routine with high-intensity exercises.
It is a low-maintenance, more affordable machine.
The elliptical will not hurt your muscles or your wallet. Of course, high-end machines are expensive. But compared with treadmills, good quality but low-cost elliptical trainers are more readily available. Plus, this equipment does not require constant maintenance or parts replacement. So, if you want to lose weight and boost heart fitness on a budget, go for an elliptical machine.
Why Choose a Treadmill
Treadmills let you walk, run, jog or sprint indoors while on a moving belt. Depending on the model, the control panel also allows you to adjust the speed and incline.
With these machines, you get to increase your heart rate and burn calories while working out your core, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. But like the ellipticals, treadmills come with distinct features that can match your other fitness needs.
It tracks progress with ease.
If you are into programmable and high-tech machines, you will have no problem hitting the treadmill regularly. Its built-in buttons give you optimum workout control, while the screen display lets you see how you are doing from Day 1. This feature comes in handy when you want to keep tabs on your weight loss plan for sure.
Most treadmill models are detailed and can record vital information, too, from track time to distance to pace. With these data, athletes or coaches who need all sorts of numerical data can track progress more objectively.
It allows exercise variety.
While some say elliptical cross trainers are better when it comes to exercise variety, treadmills are just as versatile. Yes, the treadmill may be all about your lower body, but it doesn’t mean you have to do the same routine every time.
For instance, aside from adjusting its speed and incline, you can step it up by walking backwards or sideways and doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You can even pair it with a resistance band to work your upper body. With plenty of options, you become more engaged and committed to your fitness plan. Check out these treadmill workouts that you can add to your weight loss goals.
It strengthens leg and core muscles.
If your job requires you to drive, walk or be on your feet for long hours, a treadmill can help you minimise leg soreness and those painful cramps. Athletes who use their legs for sports activities can also benefit from a treadmill exercise. With strong legs, they can protect themselves from injuries.
The machine’s adjustable incline is especially useful in this case. Running and walking on the treadmill make your leg muscles more powerful. However, changing the incline settings makes you exercise and train better. Unlike the low-impact elliptical machine, running on the treadmill requires you to lift your feet off the belt. This motion, in turn, powers up your ab muscles, too.
It supports marathon training.
The treadmill is the best equipment for runners or people into race training. With it, you can adjust the incline and mimic walking, running and jogging uphill outdoors. You can also recreate your morning run at home any time, even if it’s stormy outside. Its intuitive controls allow you to do consistent workouts, too.
It is a more space-efficient machine.
An elliptical and treadmill take up almost the same amount of space. However, the bouncing motion and pedal rotation while using the elliptical machine require more width and height considerations. On the other hand, the treadmill is more compact than the elliptical. Moreover, you can opt for a folding treadmill if you have limited room for a home gym. So, if you need to lose weight and boost heart fitness but space is an issue, then a treadmill is for you.
Is an Elliptical Trainer Better than a Treadmill?
Both are reliable cardio exercise machines when it comes to health benefits and caloric burn. Choosing between the two, however, depends on your body, preference and other fitness goals. Do you want to lose weight through a full-body workout with low risk for injuries? If yes, then an elliptical is your best match. But if you love running or need sport-specific training while burning calories, then you better start planning for a treadmill routine!