Treadmill vs elliptical machines for weight loss

Elliptical machine and treadmill users constantly fight to prove which machine is better for weight loss. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the debate; it all depends on your fitness goals and personal preferences.

The treadmill and elliptical are both low-impact machine cardio machines. Depending on the slope, both can work on your hamstrings, quads, calves and even your glutes. The question is whether the treadmill or the elliptical is better for turning your flabby butt into a firm, toned booty. 

When it comes to weight loss, regular exercise is key to producing change. Two popular options for cardiovascular workouts are the treadmill and the elliptical machine. Both machines offer effective ways to burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness and help in weight loss.

feet walking on treadmill as a low impact cardio weight loss choice

The treadmill is found in most gyms and homes. It allows you to walk, jog or run at various speeds and inclines, simulating outdoor running. On the other hand, the elliptical machine provides a low-impact workout that mimics the running motion but with less stress on the joints.

leg muscles

low-impact machine

Types of cardio workouts

Cardio workouts are important for losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of different types of ways you can do cardio workouts. Cardio workouts can be anything that increases your heart rate from jumping rope, swimming, cycling, walking and even dancing.  In the gym, two of the most common cardio workouts are using the treadmill and elliptical machine. 

Advantages of using the treadmill

treadmill vs elliptical

Increased calorie burn

One of the primary advantages of using a treadmill for weight loss is the potential for increased calorie burn. Treadmills offer a range of workout intensities, allowing you to adjust the speed and incline according to your fitness level and goals. Running or walking on a treadmill engages large muscle groups, such as the legs and core, leading to a higher calorie expenditure than many other exercise forms. The intensity of your workout can be increased by adding interval training, where you alternate between periods of higher intensity and recovery.

Customizable workout options

Treadmills provide various workout options, making them suitable for individuals of different fitness levels and preferences. You can adjust the speed of the belt, incline and even program pre-set workouts to add variety and challenge to your routine. 

Impact on joint health and bone density

For individuals concerned about joint health, treadmills offer a relatively lower impact option compared to outdoor running on hard surfaces. The cushioned surface of a treadmill reduces the stress on your joints, making it more forgiving and suitable for those with joint issues or previous injuries. Additionally, the weight-bearing nature of treadmill exercise can help improve bone density, which is crucial for maintaining healthy bones, especially for women at risk of osteoporosis.

Cardiovascular benefits

Regular treadmill workouts can lead to significant cardiovascular benefits. You improve your cardiovascular endurance over time by elevating your heart rate and maintaining it within a target range during your treadmill sessions. 

By taking advantage of the increased calorie burn, customizable workout options, impact on joint health and bone density and cardiovascular benefits.

Advantages of the elliptical machine

Low-impact exercise option

One of the key advantages of using an elliptical machine for weight loss is its low impact nature. Unlike running or jogging on a treadmill, elliptical machines provide a smooth and fluid motion that reduces the impact on your joints, particularly your knees and ankles.

Full body workout

Elliptical machines offer a full-body workout by engaging both your upper body and lower body at the same time. The elliptical motion requires pushing and pulling the arm handles while pedaling, targeting muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, back, glutes and legs. 

Customizable resistance and intensity levels

Elliptical machines typically feature adjustable resistance and intensity levels to accommodate users of different fitness levels and workout preferences. By increasing the resistance, you can challenge yourself and activate more muscle, ultimately leading to higher calorie burn and improved strength.

Adjusting the incline or using interval training techniques can further enhance the intensity of your elliptical workouts, making it an effective tool for weight loss.

Enhanced cardiovascular endurance

Regular use of an elliptical machine can improve cardiovascular endurance. The continuous motion of pedaling on the elliptical keeps your heart rate elevated, strengthening your heart and lungs over time.

As your cardiovascular fitness improves, your body becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen and energy, resulting in increased stamina and endurance.

By adding elliptical machine workouts, you can achieve effective weight loss while minimizing strain on your joints. Incorporating this versatile machine into your fitness routine can contribute significantly to your overall fitness goals.

How do you choose which machine to use?

Personal preferences and goals

When deciding between a treadmill and an elliptical machine, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and goals. Consider the type of exercise you enjoy and are more likely to stick with in the long term.

Combining treadmills and elliptical machines in your workout routines

Consider adding both treadmill workouts and elliptical workouts into your routine. By alternating between the two, you can maximize the benefits of each machine and add variety to your workouts. 

You might choose to use the treadmill for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and on other days, you can switch to the elliptical machine for a low-impact, full-body workout that targets different muscle groups. Combining both machines also helps prevent workout plateaus and keeps your exercise routine engaging and challenging.

Importance of consistency

Whether you choose a treadmill, an elliptical machine or a combination of both, consistency to a regular exercise routine are key factors in achieving weight loss goals.

Consistency in your workouts allows your body to adapt and progress over time, leading to improved fitness levels and weight loss. Set realistic and achievable goals, track your progress and celebrate milestones along the way.

Is it better to use a treadmill or elliptical for weight loss?

The treadmill is one of the most popular and widely used fitness equipment worldwide. Similar to the elliptical machine, treadmills can be used either at the gym or purchased for a home gym and offer low-impact exercise workouts.

Both pieces of equipment offer a good cardio workout and will tone up your muscles. The elliptical trainer will strengthen your lower and upper body muscles too, while the treadmill will provide a lower body workout.

When it comes to whether to use a treadmill or elliptical for weight loss, though, both machines are pretty similar, yet one is better. Which one? According to research scientific data, it is the treadmill because you can burn more calories on a treadmill compared to an elliptical machine. 

  • You can expect to burn, on average, 250 – 300 calories for 30 minutes of exercising on a treadmill
  • You can expect to burn, on average, 200 – 250 calories for 30 minutes of exercising on an elliptical

The treadmill beats the elliptical for losing body mass and burning fat. There are several factors that go into this, but ultimately the treadmill wins. 

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