Elliptical vs. Treadmill

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical vs Treadmill

Both an elliptical and a treadmill can be used indoors to boost your cardio workout. While there are a lot of similarities between them, there are some key differences.

This makes each one of them more suitable for different workout goals.

Which one should you use if you are looking to improve your muscle tone or to lose weight? Which to use to minimize injuries? What are the benefits of each, and why should you use them?


Everyone knows how to use a treadmill. You simply walk or run on the moving platform, with the options to adjust the incline and speed. But how does that benefit you?

Why Do You Need to Use a Treadmill?

1. Race Training 

 If you are looking to improve your running form, treadmills are the way to go.

They help you strengthen your bones and muscles, especially your legs. This is because while using a treadmill, you are bearing the weight of your entire body on your legs.

The treadmill targets your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, abs, and heart muscles.

2. Warm Up Before Other Exercises 

It feels natural to use a treadmill. We all walk or run every day. This is why it only takes a few seconds to adapt to the moving belt of the treadmill. 

A few minutes on the treadmill will make you feel active and get you ready for the following exercise, and it doesn’t require any skills. 

3. Versatility and Control

Unlike ellipticals, treadmills possess a variety of speed and incline controls. They allow you to choose a training program that serves your goal. For example, it can be used as a part of rehabilitation programs – of course, under supervision – you can use it to stay fit or to relieve stress as well. 

4. Health Improvement 

 It’s no secret that using a treadmill helps your circulation, improves your heart functions, and increases your lung activity as well as oxygen capacity. 

5. Fat Burning Workouts

The treadmill can be an essential corner in your weight loss program. If you run at 8 mph for 20 or 30 minutes, you burn around 350 calories. Treadmills are the best to slim down and get rid of extra fat. 

6. Not Affected by the Weather

Who doesn’t enjoy a run outside? You get to breathe some fresh air while doing your routine exercise, and you can choose different parts of town to run through.

However, a lot of times, the weather makes it difficult to keep practicing regularly. This is why using a treadmill is a more effective way to keep up with your routine or your training program. 

Disadvantages of Using a Treadmill

1. Safety

Injuries are more common when using a treadmill in comparison to using an elliptical. Incline sprints can be very dangerous, especially if you are not qualified for such exercises. Most of the injuries are shin splints, knee injuries, and stress fractures as well. 

 Tips : 
  • To reduce the risk of injuries, try to start your training with a simple warm-up.
  • If you tend to feel dizzy while using the treadmill, consider using lower speeds or switching to other cardio workouts that are less stressful to your body like riding a bike or swimming.

 2. Targets Fewer Muscles 

As mentioned above, treadmills focus only on your lower body  and core.

This is not the case when it comes to ellipticals as they allow you to engage in a full body workout. Add to this the fact that unlike treadmills, ellipticals allow you to focus on isolated body parts. 

3. Avoid Using the Treadmill in the Following Situations:

  • If you have had recent heart surgery or you are suffering from severe cardiac conditions. 
  • If you have a musculoskeletal injury, such as back pain, a bone injury, or plantar fasciitis. 


With ellipticals, you put your feet on the pedals and move in an ellipse or an elongated circle.

Why use an elliptical?

1. Full-Body Workout

While using an elliptical, you are engaging your upper as well as your lower body parts. You can use your arms more to engage your back, chest and arms, or you can pedal backwards which places more emphasis on the quads

2. Ellipticals are Better When You Have an Injury 

Ellipticals are low-impact machines; they are more gentle on your joints and therefore are less likely to aggravate your injuries. Ellipticals are a smart decision if you are suffering from low-back pain, hip or knee pain, as well as other medical conditions like osteoporosis.

3. More Wallet-Friendly 

Generally ellipticals are less expensive than treadmills. If you want to build on your home gym and have a budget, it may be best to get an elliptical, then invest your savings in getting another piece of equipment. Though if you can find a used treadmill or elliptical, it’s common to find deep discounts as people are sometimes happy to clear the space.

Disadvantages of Using an Elliptical

1. Less Muscle Development and Bone Strengthening

This is because they have a less weight-bearing effect. This can be an advantage in case of an injury, however if you are looking to build stronger muscles and strengthen your bones, then a treadmill is the way to go.

2. Not as Dynamic

Several lower end model ellipticals don’t allow you to increase resistance or the incline. While it’s common for higher end model ellipticals to have these features, a treadmill is typically going to be better at giving you more round workouts by increasing the incline degree and the speed.


Treadmills are best for race training and tracking your progress, burning more calories, and strengthening your legs. They should be avoided in case of injuries, and they are not as safe as ellipticals.

On the other hand, ellipticals are safe to use if you have previous injuries and are typically more affordable than treadmills. However, they are less dynamic and don’t help as much with developing your muscles.