The Best Exercise: Elliptical vs. Treadmill [Pros & Cons]
Elliptical vs Treadmill
Gauging which workout machine would work best for your needs when entering a gym depends on where you stand on the elliptical vs treadmill debate. For a cardiovascular workout, both machines offer a great benefit and the chance for a superb workout. What differs between the two is the level of impact and the effect they have on the body. When faced with the dilemma of the elliptical vs the treadmill for matters of weight loss there isn't a lot of difference between the two. How you design your workout has more to do with picking the right machine for your needs.
Pros and Cons
Both machines have their individual benefits and drawbacks. To better understand what type of workout you wish to experience it is important to note their differences. To bring new light into the elliptical vs. treadmill argument, Kevin Deeth (2016) offers some helpful information on how each machine can benefit and detract from a workout.
1) Versatility- Treadmills offer various inclines, speeds, and training programs that allow an individual to mix up their workout for better effect.
2) Allows Natural Movement- This machine allows the body to move naturally without any awkward or difficult movements to perform.
3) High Output- Since moving the body forward requires effort the treadmill can help to burn calories faster by making the body work harder.
1) Joint Pain- Despite being able to toughen the body, running is particularly hard on the joints, and can cause pain and even inflammation in the knees if performed too often or in an unnatural manner.
2) Bad/Awkward Posture- When running outside of a gym people can run more naturally without worrying over whether they will step off of a moving belt. By that reasoning, it is easy to assume that posture will change when running on a treadmill for an extended period.
3) Difficulty- There's no other way to say it, running is hard. The effort expended can take a heavy toll on many users and the variant training programs can burn many runners out before they've gone more than a mile.
1) Non-Impact- This type of training can provide the cardiovascular workout desired without any unwanted stress being placed on the joints.
2) Reverse Stride- Many ellipticals are equipped to allow the user to stride in reverse and work out different muscle groups.
3) Lower Perceived Exertion- Many people who use ellipticals, are unaware of how hard they are working thanks to the easy-glide and low impact. This allows for a smoother workout and lowers the need to push the body harder than is necessary.
1) Less Dynamic- There is a great deal more variety in workouts with the treadmill, as this function in the elliptical is often not present or is not as effective.
2) Lowered Weight-Bearing Effect- Despite being better on the joints because of its suspended pedals, the elliptical does not offer the realistic impact that can strengthen bones and muscles.
3) Momentum- One of the main drawbacks that can detract from a workout is that a user can use the momentum of the elliptical to facilitate movement. The treadmill requires a user to do the work.
Elliptical vs Treadmill for Weight Loss
The average calories burned from running one hour on the treadmill can range from 700 to almost 900. By comparison, an hour spent on the elliptical can burn nearly 800 calories. This gives the treadmill a distinct advantage despite any variable workouts that could be performed on either machine. In regards to fat loss and the effect such exercises can have on the body it has been discovered that when used at the same intensities, both the treadmill and the elliptical can have the same effect over the course of a rigorous 12-week regimen.
The Bottom Line
The continual elliptical vs. treadmill debate doesn't end with one machine being better than the other. Both provide a useful means of keeping active and increasing a person's health through proven, effective cardiovascular routines. While the treadmill has the obvious edge for burning more calories due to supporting one's body weight, the elliptical offers a lower impact workout with roughly the same results. The decision over which machine to use is highly dependent on the individual and the level of impact their body can withstand.
If an individual has weak knees or is just starting out, the elliptical is often the smartest choice as it can offer added momentum once a user starts, and it doesn't force the user to support their weight. For advanced users, it is often smarter to utilize the realistic impact of the treadmill to strengthen the body through variable training routines.
Most gyms feature both treadmills and elliptical as their primary cardiovascular options, normally in front of banks of television screens. Stair climbers, stationary bikes, and other such machines have almost faded out for these two highly used machines. The benefits to be gained from both the treadmill and the elliptical have outdistanced most machines, though the stair climber still tops the list of most used cardiovascular machines in many gyms. While neither machine is truly better than the other in overall terms of fitness, it is recommended that a user incorporates both machines into their workout to optimize their added potential. If nothing else it breaks up the monotony.
Deeth, Kevin. "Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which is Better?" Built Lean. 20 April 2012. Web. 17 July 2016.