Battle of the Machines: Treadmill vs Elliptical

Getting a good workout in is key to losing or maintaining weight and feeling great. And, with so many different kinds of fitness equipment, there are lots of different ways you can achieve your fitness goals — at home or at the gym. Two of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment are treadmills and elliptical machines. They work well for cardio fitness and are effective for increasing your heart rate and burning calories. But, which one is best for you and your workout needs? We’ll take a look at the benefits of each of these machines to help you decide which one is right for you in the debate of treadmill vs elliptical machine.

Machine Basics: What are Treadmill and Elliptical Machines?

We know that both treadmills and elliptical machines are great for cardiovascular fitness. But, what exactly are they, and how do they work? Getting an idea of what each machine is and how it works will help us get a better idea of which machine is going to help you maximize your workout.

  • Treadmill: Treadmills are a type of stationary exercise equipment with a moving belt that lets you walk or run in place. Most people use treadmills to walk or run, but you can also use it for other cardio based exercises. Treadmills typically have features like adjustable speed, incline, and other settings.
  • Elliptical: Like treadmills, elliptical machines are a type of stationary exercise equipment. They are used to simulate stair climbing, walking, and running but don’t have the added pressure or impact on joints and muscles that other cardio exercise does. Elliptical machines have a variety of custom settings, like resistance and incline to help target core muscle areas and improve fitness.

Now that we know a bit more about a treadmill vs elliptical, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of each of these to help you decide which one is right for you.

Treadmill vs Elliptical

Burning Calories

We all know that one way to maintain or lose weight is to burn the right amount of calories for the food you eat and your desired weight. So, how do treadmills and elliptical machines measure up to each other when it comes to burning calories? Studies show that jogging or fast walking on a treadmill for an hour will burn somewhere between 700 and 800 calories. A heavy workout on an elliptical machine can burn about the same amount of calories, depending on the intensity of the workout. So, when it comes to burning calories, both machines will provide similar results.

Weight Loss

In addition to burning calories, most of us want to make sure we’re maintaining or losing weight. Both machines are effective at helping you lose weight, and neither one is better than the other. They do target some different muscles and have slightly different workouts. But, overall weight loss really depends on how much effort you put into your workout. Want to know more about weight loss benefits with specific gym equipment? Check out our article, Treadmill Benefits for Weight Loss, Drop Those Pounds Fast.


Using a machine without injuring yourself is a pretty big concern when it comes to workout safety. And, treadmills and elliptical machines do have some key differences. Because a treadmill is constantly moving, it may require more balance and concentration compared to an elliptical machine. Of course, that doesn’t mean a treadmill isn’t safe to use. Most treadmills have a safety button that you can use to stop a treadmill moving completely in case you lose your balance or get too tired. Some treadmills even have a switch that can be attached to clothes, so if you accidentally fall, the treadmill will stop working.

Elliptical machines, on the other hand, are a bit safer. And, this is because your feet never leave the elliptical pedals. So, you shouldn’t have as many issues with balance. Generally, an elliptical is slightly safer than a treadmill. But, with today’s modern safety features, using a treadmill can be just as safe.

Getting into Specifics: Benefits of Treadmills and Elliptical Machines

Both treadmills and elliptical machines have unique benefits for getting a great workout. Here are some of them to help you compare a treadmill vs elliptical.

Elliptical Machine Benefits

  • Low Impact Workout: A key benefit of an elliptical machine is that it’s low impact workout helps reduce the impact and stress on joints, hips, and knees. This is especially helpful if you have any physical conditions or injuries that may impact your ability to run or walk on a treadmill. This makes an elliptical the perfect machine for those want to get the benefits of a good cardio workout while helping prevent injuries and support existing ones.
  • Full Body Workout: Unlike a treadmill, an elliptical machine can give you a full lower and upper body workout. This is because an elliptical machine has handles that also move. By using the handles, you can build muscles in your arms too. For more info go here: Best Elliptical Machines Under 500 – Comparison & Buyer’s Guide
Treadmill vs Elliptical

Photo Copyright Sport-Tiedje GmbH / Wikimedia Commons

Treadmill Benefits

  • Consistent Workout: If you’re looking for a consistent workout that burns calories and builds muscle, a treadmill delivers in spades. This is because it’s versatile. And, it offers flexible workouts if the weather is bad or if the road conditions aren’t ideal. So, you can always get in your walk or run in with a treadmill. It’s also a great way to train for races or other outdoor running.
  • Strengthen Your Core: Unlike an elliptical machine, a treadmill requires you to move and lift your feet completely off the ground. This means you’ll be using your abs and core body muscles much more actively. So, when it comes to getting a strong core, a treadmill is the ideal workout.
  • Fits Better in Homes: A treadmill may be longer in length than an elliptical machine, but did you know that they actually fit better in most home gyms? That’s because elliptical machines are fairly tall and much taller than a treadmill. When it comes to adding a piece of equipment to your home gym, it’s easier to add in in a machine that’s wider or longer than it is taller, as most ceilings can’t accommodate a tall elliptical.

Take Your Pick: Treadmill vs Elliptical for Your Workout Needs

Now that you know a bit more about the benefits of both the treadmill and elliptical, the choice is yours. Deciding on a treadmill vs elliptical will depend on your workout needs and goals. Of course, there are good benefits to both machines. But with a more consistent workout and increased core workout benefits, we find a treadmill may be an overall better bet for a well-rounded workout. If you have any medical or physical conditions, you may want to stick with an elliptical. But, many will find that a treadmill can help them achieve their personal fitness goals with ease. Interested in buying a treadmill for your home and looking for affordable options? Check out our article, Want the Best Treadmill Under 500 Dollars? Here are 3 great options! for tips and strategies for buying your own treadmill.

See more: Top 8 Best Treadmills Under $1000 For Home Usage