Elliptical VS Treadmill for weight loss goals – Which is better?

Heather Campbell
 min read

Elliptical VS Treadmill for weight loss goals: An analysis for plus-size Americans with weight loss ambitions.

elliptical vs treadmill for weight loss goals which is betterWhat is the all-time best fat-lowering workout? Cardio, of course!

Did you know that the two most common cardio devices, treadmill and elliptical, target different muscles and give different results?!

If you know which part of your body these 2 devices engage, you will be able to make a well-informed decision on which device to pick.

Elliptical VS Treadmill for weight loss goals: Introduction

It’s important to learn which device will work best for you. Still, they have a few things in common.

They both:

  • help lessen injuries
  • help weight loss
  • enhance toning your muscle
  • strengthen your core

This short article will explain the benefits and downsides of both a treadmill and an elliptical workout device.

This will make it easier for you to decide which fitness machine is the best for you.

Treadmill advantages

A treadmill is great for the lower body

Running or strolling on the treadmill targets your:

  • calves
  • hamstrings
  • quadriceps
  • glutes
  • core
  • heart muscles

So it’s a fantastic workout for your lower body.

If you have excess fat built up in your lower body, running regularly on the treadmill can help you lose that excess fat successfully.

A treadmill feels more natural

Running and walking are actions that we do on a daily basis.

So when you start using a treadmill, it will only take you a few seconds to get used to the moving platform.

It’s easy to use, and its comfort will quickly make you like running or strolling on the treadmill.

A treadmill engages your core

Running makes you use your core by activating your ab muscles.

This is needed to keep your body balanced and prevent you from falling.

So, if you run for about 35 minutes, your core is engaged the entire time. By doing this frequently, you will build a stronger core.

This will improve your endurance, tone your body and give you more energy.

A treadmill is very universal

You can use a treadmill to stroll (both slow and brisk), jog, run, or sprint.

You can also use the incline alternative to add resistance to your workout.

A treadmill makes your heart stronger

Running and walking briskly on the treadmill is great to activate your lungs and help you pump up your heart rate.

This can help strengthen your heart muscles and enhance blood flow.

Over time, you will be able to run for a long time without going out of breath.

This results in the ability to do any other type of cardio (like playing outdoor sports) without feeling out of breath (too) soon.

A treadmill strengthens your bones

Running needs you to balance on switching legs, meaning that your legs hold the weight of your body one at a time.

Plus, the slope and speed of running will double or even triple the weight of your body!

This means that keeping an upright posture on alternate legs strengthens the bones.

A treadmill helps you burn calories

The amount of calories you will burn during a workout depends on:

  • your speed
  •  the length of your training session
  • your body weight
  • degree of incline used

On average, one can burn up to 300 calories per 25 minutes if you move at a speed of +/- 7 mph.

As you may have noticed, there are lots of health benefits of using a treadmill, but there are also a few downsides that you should know.

Here are the disadvantages of using a treadmill to burn calories.

Treadmill disadvantages

A treadmill may not be safe

Not every workout is meant for everybody.

You might be great at running on the field, but you might feel lightheaded when you’re running on the treadmill.

When you’re running at high speed and want to change the speed of the belt, there’s an increased risk of falling and harming yourself.

A treadmill may affect your posture

The size of the belt might make you change the way you walk or run.

And in time, it can trigger posture issues that might result in back and joint pain.

A treadmill only works the lower body (Elliptical vs treadmill for weight loss goals)

Doing any type of exercise on the treadmill is an excellent lower body workout, but it ignores the upper body.

It might feel like a whole-body workout, but using a treadmill doesn’t target your upper body muscles a lot if you think about it.

A treadmill is challenging on the joints

Whether you sprint on the treadmill or jog slowly for a long period, running can be difficult on your knees.

That is because your knees have to hold double (or even triple) your body’s weight.

They also need to absorb the shock from the impact of your feet touching the platform.

Elliptical advantages

With an elliptical, you can also go in reverse

You can pedal in reversed direction on an elliptical.

By pedaling backward, you will target other muscles and get a combined workout that will give you great results.

An elliptical is easy on the joints and has a low impact

Cardio on an elliptical device puts less pressure on the bones, especially on the knee joints than any other type of cardio.

The machine imitates the movement of climbing up the stairs or cross-country snowboarding.

For that reason, you don’t have to stomp your feet on a belt or floor, which will automatically save you from long-term damage to your knees.

Are you overweight and interested in a heavy-duty elliptical? Then read our buying guide Best elliptical for a heavy person.

An elliptical is an excellent calorie burner

The elliptical helps burn about 350 calories in 35 minutes, which is the same as running on a treadmill.

Nevertheless, with the elliptical, you will get a complete body workout.

An elliptical gives you a full-body workout

The elliptical targets many muscle groups, for example:

  • leg muscles
  • biceps
  • triceps
  • lats
  • core

Basically, you’ll get a full-body workout that will help you:

  • tone up your body
  • reinforce your core
  • improve balance

Read Which type of elliptical is best? to discover how to choose an elliptical that fits your physique, weight and personal goals.

Elliptical disadvantages

An elliptical is not so versatile

On both the treadmill and the elliptical, you can adjust the intensity of your workout.

On a treadmill by adjusting the speed or slope, on an elliptical by changing the resistance.

But on a treadmill, you can move around freely and choose how and in which direction you want to walk or run.

On an elliptical, you are bound to the structure and movement of the machine, so you cannot move around as freely as you can on a treadmill.

An elliptical does not strengthen the bones

The elliptical does not affect your bones and joints, which is both good and bad.

Running on a treadmill helps you improve the strength of your bones, while working out on the elliptical creates less impact and shock, so it does not help to make your bones stronger.

Burning calories (Elliptical VS Treadmill for weight loss goals)

Using a treadmill can help you burn basically the same amount of calories as you would by using an elliptical.

Which device you choose depends on your goals.

You should decide if you want a full-body workout or if a lower-body workout is enough.

You can choose between a treadmill or an elliptical device with that answer in mind.

Tip: Read Which is better for weight loss: walking or an elliptical? for more detailed information about this topic.

But you can have (extra) weight loss with both a treadmill or an elliptical if you exercise frequently.

Also, make sure to do strength training each week to strengthen and protect your muscles and tone your body structure.

Elliptical vs treadmill for weight loss goals: Bottom line

Treadmill and elliptical devices both have pros and cons.

But the bottom lines to consider are your fitness goals and if you have weak joints or are recovering from an injury or surgical treatment.

To use these devices efficiently, wear proper shoes, keep a good posture, and do not overstrain yourself!

Start slow and build your endurance and strength before trying to do a full 45-minute exercise on any of these devices.

More importantly, listen to your body! Rest and stop if the discomfort is abnormal and sharp.

With these tips in mind, we guarantee that it will be much easier for you to decide if a treadmill or an elliptical is the best option to reach your health goals!

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More