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Battle Royale: Elliptical vs. Treadmill

We cannot even begin to guess how many times this question has been asked to fitness professionals:

“Which one is better, the treadmill or the elliptical?”

But what we can tell you is that the answer should always the same.  But before we divulge that answer lets take a moment to compare these two champions of cardiovascular training equipment. Each has the pros and cons as listed below:



  • Variety
  • Mimics the natural movement of walking or running
  • Propelling your body forward is more strenuous than moving in a fixed path


  • Can be tough on those with joint issues
  • The size of the belt can cause you to change your natural gait
  • Safety, especially at higher speeds, may be an issue.



  • Less impact on joints
  • Can work both upper and lower body (if equipped)
  • Ability to go backwards, targeting different muscles.


  • Less variety
  • By building momentum you may not have to exert as much energy to keep a certain pace
  • Not a natural movement

Ok so looking at the list we can see that both have benefits and drawbacks. So this doesn’t really help us answer the question of which is better. What about for losing weight? Well let’s look at the research. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin conducted a study that involved jogging on a treadmill for an hour. This study showed that the average participant burned between 700 and 900 calories in that time frame. A similar study by Health Status found that the elliptical would burn just less than 800 calories in the same time frame. So there may be a slight advantage to the treadmill for some, but once again this doesn’t give us a clear choice in which is better.

So what does this mean? It means that in the case of the treadmill versus the elliptical, one is not clearly better than the other. In reality it is a matter of preference more than a matter of one being the superior choice. The truth is that no matter what you choose for your cardiovascular training, if you push yourself and give it your best effort the result will be the same: A BETTER HEALTHIER YOU! So don’t worry about making the right or wrong choice, worry about what’scomfortable and what will allow you to perform your best.