An elliptical and treadmill are two of the most common cardio machines found in gyms. Both machines can provide an effective cardiovascular workout and help burn calories and improve aerobic capacity, but each machine has unique benefits and drawbacks.
Is an elliptical or a treadmill more effective at burning calories? Which machine should you choose for cardio workouts? These questions and more will be answered in this introductory article, which will examine the pros and cons of each exercise method and explore some research studies.
Calorie Burn Comparison: Elliptical vs. Treadmill
A study by the Medical College of Wisconsin found the average calories burned jogging on a treadmill for one hour was 705 to 866. By comparison, an estimate by Health Status found using an elliptical trainer for one hour will burn approximately 773 calories. Based on these and other similar studies, the treadmill may have a slight advantage in calorie burn, although oftentimes the amount of variance is considered negligible compared to the elliptical.
In terms of fat loss and increased aerobic capacity, another study found that people using a stair climber, treadmill, and elliptical at similar exercise intensities experienced similar physiological changes in 12 a week program.
Bottom Line: Elliptical vs. Treadmill
The elliptical can be used as an effective cardiovascular machine for those who want to help improve cardiovascular health with minimal impact. For optimal fat loss, high intensity interval training should be implemented when using an elliptical. Beware that the calorie burn calculators on an elliptical trainer tend to overestimate calorie expenditure, which can dupe people into thinking they are burning more calories than they are. Treadmills offer more versatility and the motor of a treadmill forces you to work out of your comfort zone. If you’re an experienced exerciser, the treadmill offers the most calorie burn because you’re supporting your own body weight. The few extra calories you might burn on the treadmill come with greater potential for injury and stress on your joints, which is why the elliptical is an adequate alternative.
If you have a nagging injury that is made worse by the weight bearing effect of running, then the elliptical may be the most suitable option. Consider incorporating both machines into your regimen to reap the most benefit. Varying exercises and machines will help to avoid monotony and activate different muscle groups versus doing the same exercise on a continual basis.
Elliptical & Treadmill Research
Here are some research reports on elliptical and treadmills:
If you have any questions or comments, let me know! For an effective workout program that takes the guesswork out of losing fat and getting strong, check out BuiltLean’s 12-Week Body Transformation Program.