Treadmills and elliptical trainers are without a doubt, the most popular pieces of fitness equipment for anyone wanting to lose weight. Both machines offer an excellent cardiovascular workout and are very simple to use.
Many people ask us what is the better choice between treadmills and elliptical trainers? Well, there is no simple answer, so we need to look at both treadmills and elliptical trainers to be able to choose one over the other.
A closer look at the Treadmil
Our bodies are built to walk and run so it makes sense for us to mimic natural body movement when we want to be active by using a treadmill. I mean, who doesn’t know how to walk or run?
There are two types of treadmills, the manual treadmill and the motorised treadmill. Manual treadmills do not possess a motor and therefore rely on the user to force the belt to turn over a series of rollers. They are quite cumbersome and difficult to use. No serious runner would use a manual treadmill and there are very few companies manufacturing them today.
Cheap motorised treadmills have short decks, manual incline levels, if any, and very few programs. They are built to a price and built not to be used. Quality treadmills on the other hand offer excellent shock absorption, a variety of programs, large running surfaces and can be a pleasure to use for beginners, intermediate, and advanced runners alike. Using an incline on a treadmill, it is possible to target different areas of the legs.
A closer look at the Elliptical Trainer
Elliptical Trainers are quite new to the fitness industry when compared to treadmills and are gaining popularity very quickly. They are designed to mimic the natural motion of walking or running without imposing any impact on the joints. Elliptical trainers are said to recruit more muscles in to a workout but most of the work is still performed by the legs. It is possible to use your arms to relieve the legs when fatigue sets in.
Cheap elliptical trainers can make you bounce up over the arc of the fly wheel while with quality ellipticals your hips stay level even at higher resistance levels and you should notice on a quality machine that your heel hardly lifts off the pedal while in use.
So which machine is going to offer the better workout?
The one you are inclined to use, I mean, if you are not comfortable on either machine then there is no point investing in either machine. You need to try them both out and decide which you prefer. If you can’t decide between the two – buy them both and bring more variety into your workouts and break through plateaus. Both machines will get your heart rate up and into the fat burning zone. Both can be very comfortable to use, and both offer varying levels of resistance and intensity.
If you are a serious runner who likes to run outdoors, then chances are you are already leaning towards a treadmill. I can’t think of any serious runner who would prefer an elliptical over a treadmill although I do know several who run outdoors when the weather permits and train indoors when the weather isn’t so good.
The elderly or injured may prefer elliptical trainers as there is less of a jolting impact to be suffered. Quality treadmills offer excellent shock absorption these days so don’t assume that you need an elliptical. Try both machines and let your body tell you which you prefer.
Momentum can affect the workout on an elliptical resulting in a lower level of perceived exertion. Once you get up to speed on an elliptical it is easy to slacken off every now and then and let momentum carry through the movement. If you were to do the same on a treadmill you would soon be on the floor.
What do we recommend?
There are cheap and nasty variants of both ellipticals and treadmills available on the market like the ones you will find in BIG W, Aldi and other department stores. The models sold by these department stores are not designed to be used seriously and won’t offer a great deal of comfort – this is why they don’t allow you to try before you buy.
Specialty fitness equipment stores on the other hand will have a decent range of quality equipment so we strongly recommend that you head in to your nearest store and try as many models as you can. Take everyone with you that plans on using the machine and don’t think that you have to settle for one over the other. If you have the room and the budget buy one of each.