Treadmill vs Elliptical: Which Is Better?

Collection of treadmills in gym

If you want to do cardio exercise indoors, you have a few choices. One common choice people face is: treadmill vs elliptical trainer. The question is, which of these cardio machines are better for you? We have a look at the pros and cons below.

Once you’ve learned which device is better for your needs, have a look at our reviews of the best home treadmill & the best elliptical.


A motorized treadmill is a machine which makes use of a motor to move the belt that you will be walking or running on. The movement of the belt allows you to walk, jog or run in the same manner that you would on a flat surface, without having to move from your position. This is by far one of the most widely used and popular gym equipment.


The biggest advantage of running on a treadmill is the fact that you can enjoy both low and high-impact workouts. Both these workouts are both excellent when it comes to strengthening your bone structure and burn off more calories during a workout session.

You can adjust your speed from simple walking to high sprinting speeds as well as increase the incline to adjust the intensity of the workout. The variety you can avail is another major advantage of a motorized treadmill.

When you consider the two machines from the point of view of a runner, the treadmill definitely provides you a better training experience since it emulates actual running within an indoor space.

There is no real learning curve when it comes to using a treadmill. You just need to get used to the fact that the belt moves. You have to maintain a steady speed to match the moving belt’s speed.


While the treadmill comes close to the experience of outdoor running, it isn’t exactly the same thing.  The belt moves backwards and that essentially helps your legs in terms of pulling them back. There is also the fact that it doesn’t emulate the wind or change in surface, which you can experience in the outdoors.

A lot of people find the treadmill boring because it can become monotonous after a while. You will need to resort to tactics that can keep you from getting distracted.

There is also the risk of injury when using a treadmill because you can slip and fall from it.


An elliptical gym machine is often confused to be quite similar to the motorized treadmill but there are a few key differences between both. It is a machine which involves the movement of both your arms and legs at the same time. There is a fly wheel, which provides you adjustable tension. While the treadmill has been around a lot longer, elliptical training machines are becoming quite popular all over the world for gym and home use.


You enjoy a low-impact workout using an elliptical machine. This means your feet will never leave the pedals. Your bones, ligaments and joints are not put under the same pressure as they are on a treadmill, which can be beneficial to someone with back issues.

The fact that you’re using both your arms and your legs while working out with an elliptical machine means you get a full body workout – not just your lower body.

Elliptical trainers are developed in a way that they help you imitate more natural movements that are akin to standing up or riding a bicycle. This is why it feels a lot more natural working out with these.

The lack of impact through the elliptical makes workouts significantly easier, even though it also burns a significant number of calories.


You can only enjoy a low-impact workout using an elliptical trainer, which is not very helpful for people looking to give their bones and joints a good workout.

The fact that your feet will never leave contact with the pedals of the machine also means that your feet might go numb after prolonged use. You might have to shift your feet from time to time in order to ensure a healthy circulation of blood in the feet.

When you experience using an elliptical for the first time, you will be using your leg muscles in a slightly different way than you would for the treadmill or running. This will put some unexpected pressure on the muscles you have not been exercising enough and you will feel muscle burning for several sessions until your muscles can get used to it.


The elliptical vs treadmill decision ultimately depends on your preferences.

If you want the twin benefits of low impact, and an upper body and lower body workout on one cardio machine, the elliptical is your best option.

If you want to train specifically for running (perhaps in winter), or want a higher-impact workout, the treadmill may be a better choice.

If you are looking for something to use at your home, it is a good idea to first go to the gym, work out with both of them and buy the one which is best for your workouts.