Treadmill vs. Elliptical

Treadmill vs. Elliptical: What’s The Better Choice?

Arguably the two most common pieces of fitness equipment on the market today: the treadmill, and the elliptical. Both machines provide similar benefits, while equally hosting a number of pros and cons.

So, which option is better? That’s up to you, the individual…While it may simply come down to personal preference, this article will aim to provide you with the information needed to make the most informed purchasing decision based on your needs and desires.

Let’s jump right into it!

What Machine Burns More Calories?

While there are a number of different reasons why people choose to exercise, It can be agreed by most that the vast majority of users for either piece of equipment simply has the goal to sweat, burn calories, and achieve a satisfactory workout for the day.

With that assumption in mind, the question stands: “What provides a better workout?” or “What machine provides the stimulus to burn more calories, on average?”

The answer? Not so simple…

On a case-by-case basis, one can burn more calories than another on either piece of equipment. In other words, the amount of calories burned is attributed less to the machine and more to the effort and intensity given to a particular workout.

Even if we take a look at the studies that have been done on this question, the results are very similar and both land in the same range of calories burned per x amount of minutes.

To conclude, it’s ultimately up to the user how many calories they burn. One fact that holds true, however, is that the ability to increase the intensity of a workout is much more accessible on a treadmill than that of an elliptical. This is simply due to the versatility of the treadmill.

Benefits of a Treadmill

As mentioned above, the treadmill provides the user a means of versatility. Whether you want to walk, jog, or sprint, the treadmill allows you to do so with ease. What’s more? As it is quite evident, a large reason why the treadmill has gained popularity is due to the nature of movement emulating familiar mechanics.

The treadmill is a staple in almost every gym and home set-up and for good reason. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Below is a list of pros and cons of the treadmill:


  • Versatility
  • Ability for intensity/high output
  • Emulates natural mechanics
  • Well researched
  • Potential for higher calorie expenditure


  • Lack of safety
  • Poor on joints and ligaments
  • Higher barrier to entry/difficulty level

Benefits of an Elliptical

With regards to the elliptical, it has gained its popularity for other reasons. While it doesn’t provide the same versatility as a treadmill, it makes up for it in other ways…

First, for those dealing with joint issues or injuries, the elliptical machine is a first-class choice. It provides an easily accessible, low-impact workout without the worry of injury. Additionally, depending on the user’s output, you can still experience a similar stimulus and calorie expenditure effect as the treadmill.

While the treadmill is unarguably the number one of staple exercise machine, the elliptical comes in a close second. Below is a list of pros and cons of the elliptical:


  • Low-impact
  • Injury prevention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Safe


  • Less versatile
  • Less dynamic
  • Difficulty to reach peak intensity level
  • Doesn’t emulate natural movement mechanics (unless you’re a professional skier)


When it comes down to the purchasing decision, it all comes down to choosing the option that best suits YOUR needs. While the treadmill may provide a benefit that the elliptical doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the treadmill is the right choice for YOU. Once you decipher your needs and requirements is when you can begin to analyze the pro’s and cons of each, ultimately finding out the best choice.

In general, elliptical’s are fantastic machines for those that are injured, or those who aren’t equipped for total weight-barring activity. If you’re looking for a suitable option that provides low-impact whilst still eliciting a fantastic cardiovascular exercise, the elliptical might be the one for you. On the other hand, if you’re someone who prefers to partake in natural movement patterns like running or walking, ultimately seeking a high-intensity workout, the treadmill is likely your #1 option.

Before making a grand purchase (i.e. treadmill or elliptical), be sure to assess your needs and requirements, both physically and mentally. Hopefully, once you have derived at a conclusion, in conjunction with the information provided in this article, you can make the most informed purchase.

Bonus Tips

If you’re unsure of what physical and mental requirements you have in terms of what machine best suits your needs, here are some additional assessments you can take into consideration:

  • If your home space is limited, seek a machine that can fold up into a more compact, storable mechanism. Treadmills are the more likely choice in this scenario.
  • If you aren’t the only one going to be utilizing this piece of equipment, consider the versatility of the machine. Treadmills, again are the more likely choice in this scenario.

Analyze your demographic and health status. If your unsure of what you need, consider well-being and longevity over calories burned and intensity. In this scenario, elliptical is the more likely choice.