How many pieces of exercise equipment have you bought that you never use? There’s a good chance that your last big purchase ended up holding laundry instead of getting you ripped.
If you know where to look on social media, though, then you can find reviews from real people who actually want to share their pitfalls so you don’t fall into this trap over and over again.
The Top Reddit Threads on Ellipticals vs Treadmills
- Treadmill vs Elliptical: It might be old, but this thread offers an overview of the endless debate that comes to a very interesting conclusion – both machines can work for anybody if they know what they’re doing.
- Bike vs Treadmill vs Elliptical: What makes this thread so unique is the fact that it’s debated from the point of view of those who mostly engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. If you’re relatively new to cardio, then this is probably where you want to start.
- Treadmill vs Elliptical – Which to buy?: Are you just starting out on your fitness journey? This might be the best place to start, then, since the discussion is closer to what you’d find in, say, Consumer Reports than Muscle & Fitness.
- Treadmill or Elliptical?: Fitness fanatics love to talk, which is why this thread attracted almost 40 replies. This thread touches on the issue of which machine is better for your knees.
- Is the elliptical trainer as effective as running on a treadmill?: This thread represents one of the biggest debates on /r/fitness today!
The Top Reddit Threads on Ellipticals
- I’m eating and training like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: So many people were interested in this elliptical fan’s pro wrestler-like workout that they had to lock the thread! It’s great if you’re looking for inspiration.
- From 327 pounds to 229 pounds in one year: This is another very long thread. It’s unique because it promotes elliptical usage alongside other workouts.
- How I stayed fit from my 20s into my mid-40s: Another inspiring story, this one from someone who used an elliptical machine as part of a workout that helped them overcome stunted growth.
- Elliptical vs Running: While you usually see people debating about whether elliptical machines are better than treadmills, this takes the debate into the great outdoors.
The Top Reddit Threads on Treadmills
- Why is it so much harder for me to run outside: It’s possible to train yourself to do nothing but run on a treadmill. This thread addresses this problem as well as potential solutions.
- How do I go about starting treadmill and cardio workouts as a “big man”?: Bigger individuals sometimes find it harder to burst into the world of cardio. This thread gives some pointers that should help make the transition much easier.
- Treadmill Trainers: How fast do you go?: Pacing is always important, which is a lesson the posters in this thread may or may not have had to learn the hard way.
- When you game/watch video whilst on a treadmill/bike: Sure, it sounds surreal, but more and more people are finding they have the time to workout by running a treadmill during extended gaming sessions. If nothing else, then it at least gets them off the couch!
Is Elliptical Better than Treadmill?
Traditional treadmills can be very rough on joints. Considering that those with extra weight are already at risk for joint damage, this can be a pretty big issue.
One study conducted by Northern Arizona and Colorado State researchers found that obese children were almost twice as likely to develop joint problems (1). Keep in mind that a treadmill should help you shed some weight, though, so the news isn’t all bad.
Elliptical machines are normally seen as less damaging on your joints, plus you can reverse your stride so you’ll be able to work a larger section of muscle groups.
However, treadmills tend to offer a much more dynamic exercise package than elliptical machines do. They can vary intensity much better too, since you don’t normally find an elliptical machine that can vertically raise or lower itself.
On the other hand, running on an incline can be rather difficult, which might be discouraging to some treadmill users. As a result, both machines still have their place. Give them both a fair shot if you’re shopping for workout equipment.
Do You Lose More Weight with a Treadmill or Elliptical?
Scientists absolutely love to debate this back and forth. A number of researchers from the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy tested several pieces of equipment and found that treadmills actually work your Tibialis anterior muscle a little better (2).
This is in front of your leg, and it usually doesn’t get a good workout. However, it seemed that elliptical machines gave your buttocks a better go.
As far as flat out weight loss goes, treadmills might be better based solely on anecdotal evidence. Most people report burning more calories with them. The problem is that the workout computers on both treadmills and elliptical machines aren’t really the best.
Another study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that treadmills contribute more to certain types of oxygen consumption (3). This might suggest that this kind of thinking is true, and a high-incline treadmill would burn more calories.
Why is the Elliptical Easier than Running
Elliptical machines allow exercisers to emulate the same running motion without causing any strenuous impact on the joints, so it usually feels much easier. Since elliptical pedals are sort of floating around off the ground, they lack the weight-bearing effect you get when you go for a run.
This makes it much easier to keep going longer than with a traditional treadmill. Some hardcore trainers claim that you don’t get all the bone-building benefits without a weight-bearing impact while others say you’re actually doing less damage.
There’s probably a little truth to both statements!
Which Burns More, Elliptical or Treadmill?
Perhaps the fairest study to answer this quest was done at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. They found that after 12 weeks, people who stuck with the exercise program they got assigned would burn the same amount of calories whether they used a treadmill, elliptical trainer or even an old-school stair climber (4)!
While in theory traditional treadmills should burn more, it depends more on how willing you are to stick with your workout.
Perceived Effort of Treadmills vs Ellipticals
Perceived effort, however, is a big deal. Eastern Washington University researchers found that people actually work harder on elliptical trainers than they think they do (5). This might suggest that much of the idea that elliptical machines are so easy is not much more than an illusion.
That being said, you can make this illusion work for you if it gets you working out for a longer period of time every day! Just make sure you don’t end up overdoing it or hurting yourself in the process.
Then again, that goes for any kind of workout regardless of which joints or muscle groups are involved.
Ellipticals vs Running
Technically, you sort of are running or at least pedaling on an elliptical trainer. The biggest difference is that your ankles and the rest of your legs aren’t bearing too much weight. Like we mentioned before, this means less impact on your joints while also lessening the amount of bone and muscle-building you’ll be doing.
Keep in mind that there’s no reason you can’t have one of each! Of course, you probably don’t have room in your house or garage for two big workout machines. If you get to the gym regularly, then you might want to switch things up occasionally.