If you’re planning on running races, then a treadmill is probably a better option than anything else. You can still benefit from cross-training with an elliptical machine or other low-impact exercise equipment, even if running is your primary aerobic fitness activity.

Which Is Best Treadmill or Elliptical

Elliptical pros

Easy on your joints

elliptical machines are low-impact. An elliptical machine may be an excellent alternative if you have trouble with the jarring motion of walking or jogging.

High-impact exercise can be hard on your joints; low-impact exercise, on the other hand, is gentler. If you have a musculoskeletal disease like low back discomfort, knee or hip pain, or other health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis, the elliptical is a better option than the treadmill.

Although low-impact exercise may not sound taxing, it nonetheless works the heart and lungs well. According to a 2017 study on aerobic exercise, a 24-week low-impact workout regimen enhanced participants’ body composition, physical fitness and cardiovascular health.

Maintain fitness after injury

You can still get a high-intensity workout on an elliptical, even though it’s a low-impact equipment. If you’re healing from an injury but still want to maintain a high level of fitness, this can be a great option.

According to a study conducted in 2010

On both machines, Trusted Source discovered nearly comparable calorie and oxygen consumption, as well as heart rate. The elliptical was found to be a viable cardio workout alternative to the treadmill, according to the study’s findings.

Get an upper and lower body workout

Some ellipticals include handles on the arms. While moving your legs, you can push these back and forth. Your shoulders, chest, and back will benefit from the resistance provided by the handles.

Aside from boosting your upper-body strength, this machine may also help you tone and sculpt the muscles in your lower body.

Option to work different muscles

An ellipse allows you to work backwards and forwards at the same time. This can change the muscles you’re targeting. Legs like the calves and hamstrings benefit from working out backwards rather than forward.

Elliptical cons

There’s a learning curve

An elliptical may take some getting used to if you’ve never used one before. At first, the movement may feel awkward and unnatural. If you’re unsure what to do, seek the advice of a licenced personal trainer.

Less muscle development

An elliptical is an excellent low-impact aerobic training alternative, but it won’t provide the same muscle-building benefits as a treadmill.

Add weight or strength training a couple times per week to your elliptical workout if you want to build muscle and keep utilising it.

Treadmill pros

Lots of control

Treadmill workouts are great because they allow you to do a variety of exercises. You may choose the exact speed and incline of your activity, whether it’s a quick stroll or an uphill run.

The majority of treadmills come with a number of different workout routines pre-installed. Achieving your fitness objectives may be easier if you have greater control over your workout.

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) programmes are ideal for treadmills because you can control the speed and incline.

HIIT workouts have been shown to burn calories, reduce body fat, and improve cardiovascular fitness in a short amount of time, according to studies.

Strengthens the legs

The quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves of your legs can be strengthened by running or walking on a treadmill. The hip flexors and glutes can be improved with a treadmill workout.

Practicing squats and lunges in addition to your treadmill routines will help you build stronger legs and prevent injury.

Treadmill cons

May lead to injuries

When compared to elliptical training, running or jogging on a treadmill can put more strain on your bones and joints. In the long run, this could result in injury. A Reliable SOURCE Shin splints, knee problems, and stress fractures are among the most common running injuries.

Always begin and complete your treadmill activity with a warm-up and cool-down to minimise the chance of injury. After using the treadmill, make sure to stretch out your muscles.

Switching to milder cardio routines like swimming or bicycling can help if you find treadmill jogging too taxing on your joints.

Alternating between running and walking is another option, as is cutting back on the number of miles you run each week. Running shoe inserts may also aid in the prevention of injury by providing additional support.

Works fewer muscle groups

Compared to an elliptical machine, a treadmill can only target a small number of muscle groups, such as the glutes, hip flexors, and calves.

Using an elliptical machine, you may exercise your upper and lower body muscles at the same time. An elliptical also helps you isolate specific muscles by switching direction, which is more difficult to do on a treadmill.

What Machine Is Better than A Treadmill

Best for Tracking Progress: Treadmill

Mackenzie Banta, a personal trainer with Trainiac, a personal training app, explains that treadmills are easy to use and micro-programmable because everything you need is right on the screen in front of you.

To Karli Alvino of Mile High Run Club in New York, treadmills are a goldmine of information thanks to all the new technology. Most treadmills have built-in time, distance, segment time, and pace sensors, so you can keep track of your progress. The screen doesn’t lie, so it’s a terrific method to hold yourself accountable and track your progress over time. If you’re looking for a treadmill workout that’s actually enjoyable, check out this article.

It’s also possible that one mile on one elliptical may demand more effort than another mile on another elliptical, as there is a lot of diversity in the machines and manufacturers.

Best If You’re Recovering from an Injury: Elliptical or Bike

For Manning Sumner, C.S.C.S., an RSP Nutrition certified strength and conditioning coach, the main advantage of the elliptical and stationary bike is that they are lower impact than the treadmill.

He argues that because your foot is always on or clipped into the pedal, you don’t have to exert the same amount of force lifting and lowering your foot as you would when jogging. Because of this, it’s an excellent choice for people who are just starting a fitness routine, are returning to the gym after a break, or have joint problems like knee or ankle injuries.

There is less of a stress on the major joints with the elliptical than there is with treadmills, which makes it easier for folks who have knee or hip or back ailments to do a good cardiovascular workout.

Exercises like the elliptical and stationary cycle can help keep your muscles and joints in good shape even if you don’t have a history of lower-body injuries. Related: This HIIT Workout for People with Knee Pain Is Designed for You

Best for Race Training: Treadmill

If you’re looking for something that’s less taxing on your joints than running on the street, treadmills are the way to go, says Banta.

TRUE: “Treadmills are misunderstood as being a high-impact training instrument. When compared to running on pavement, using a treadmill offers a lower effect on the body’s joints, notably the feet, knees, and hips. (By the way, have you heard about the latest pace-matching treadmill? It could make pacing even easier).

When compared to the elliptical, which has a predetermined pattern of movement, the treadmill allows you to focus on your running form, which is beneficial for training on both pavement and trails.

(Also see: 8 Treadmill Mistakes You’re Making)

Best for a Full-Body Workout: Elliptical

Leg and arm motions are often combined in an elliptical trainer. To accomplish a full-body workout, Banta explains, there are handlebars that are pushed and pulled against resistance.

Allen Conrad, D.C., C.S.C.S., a chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning coach, agrees that your arms are actually moving enough to improve your upper body. Your triceps, upper back, shoulder, and chest muscles are all included in this exercise. To get an even better arm pump, up the resistance or do some arm-only intervals.

To keep your body in balance, Banta adds, your core must engage because you’re using both your lower and upper bodies at the same time. Your calves and hamstrings will be worked differently if you cycle backward instead of forward.

Best to Strengthen Your Legs: Bike or Treadmill

Climbing a hill on a bike (virtually or in real life) puts a lot of strain on your lower body, as well as your heart, lungs, and mind, but that’s another tale. You’ll need to take a break for your quadriceps, gluteus hamstrings, and calves when you’re riding inside in any one of a variety of positions, from the seat to standing upright to extended over the handlebars. But, hey, isn’t that the point of falling downhill? Cycling indoors has been shown to improve both physical and mental health.

Running isn’t a substitute for leg day. (However, given the numerous advantages of heavy lifting, why would you want to?) According to Conrad, using the treadmill’s inclination range can help you build stronger legs. It’s like running up a hill, but on steroids. The more inclines you encounter while running, the more your quads, glutes, calves, and core will be put to the test. Why? Because even if the incline degree isn’t extremely steep, you still have to struggle against gravity.

“If sprinting or running is too difficult, you can walk at an incline and still receive fantastic strength improvements,” sums up Sumner in a helpful PSA.

Best to Burn More Calories: Treadmill

Let’s be clear: working out doesn’t solely revolve around burning calories. Although many exercise equipment indicators can give you an approximation of how many calories you’ve burned throughout a workout, they aren’t always accurate. Furthermore, if your objective is to burn the most calories, cardio may not be the ideal option. The afterburn effect of HIIT and weight training can be explained by reading more about it.

However, a well-rounded fitness regimen includes both cardio and strength training, so treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike still matters. (Related: The Best Low-Impact Recumbent Bikes According to Reviews)

The elliptical and cycle have similar calorie burn rates, but Alvino asserts that the treadmill is more efficient when comparing apples to apples. In this case, it’s because whenever you have to lift your foot off the ground, your body is going to use more energy. (If you want to get the most out of your treadmill workout, check out these suggestions.)

As a result, your level of effort matters: For example, a 20-minute jog on the treadmill burns fewer calories than an H-A-M session on the elliptical with high resistance.

Alvino recommends interval-based training, which has been proven to burn fat and increase metabolism, no matter what type of exercise machine you use.

Exercise on an elliptical machine is just as effective as running on the treadmill, so give it a shot.

Best for Weight Loss: Any

You may be thinking which equipment is better for weight loss. Sumner thinks there’s no clear winner here. For him, neither option is better than the other. “You just have to figure out what works best for you,” the man adds in his opening statement. This will be determined by your particular preferences, any current ailments, and the machine that best aids you in achieving your goals.

A treadmill and an elliptical are excellent ways to shed pounds, as Banta affirms. “Both can help people log the calorie deficit needed to lose weight when combined with a healthy diet.” (Also see: How to Create Your Own Workout Routine for Weight Loss.)

To Save Money: Elliptical or Bike

There are many options when it comes to buying a treadmill for your home gym, but cycles and ellipticals are more affordable (and take up less room) than treadmills that cost more and are more cumbersome. For example, Amazon’s best-selling elliptical costs $260, while the top treadmill costs $600.

While the Peloton cycle may be the latest in fitness equipment, these Peloton substitutes are available for as little as $300 and the cost of a monthly Peloton membership on the app, if you truly want a cheaper dupe.

For best results, Banta recommends a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercise. It’s possible to save money on ellipticals by purchasing dumbbells or kettle bells, which may be used to buy additional inexpensive at-home gym equipment. (Do you need help deciding which elliptical to buy? See the Shape elliptical selections.)

So, Which Is Better? Treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike?

Conrad says, “Ultimately, it all comes down to your body and your ambitions.” When it comes to race and sports training, the treadmill is the best option because it mimics the movement of running outside. Since the elliptical and bike have a lesser impact, they’re a better choice for people who have concerns with their hips, knees, or ankles.

When it comes to losing weight and burning calories, the key is to choose a workout you enjoy. There’s always the rower, stair climber, or the weight room if neither of those appeal to you.