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Treadmill vs Elliptical: Which One Is Better for Weight Loss

Treadmill vs Elliptical

Losing weight is a journey that involves a lot of dedication, effort, and smart choices. From making changes to your diet to opting for regular exercise, there are a myriad of things that can contribute to weight loss. One question that many fitness enthusiasts and beginners alike grapple with when setting up their workout regimen is whether to use a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. So let’s dive in and dissect the benefits of both to determine which one might be a better fit for your weight loss goals.


The Basics of These Machines

The treadmill and elliptical are two popular cardio machines you’ll find in almost any gym. They’re both excellent for cardiovascular health and can help you burn calories. But which one is superior when it comes to weight loss?

  • Treadmills allow you to simulate walking, running, or hill-climbing, which are all excellent exercises for burning calories and building endurance.
  • Elliptical machines provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the speed and the resistance preference set by the user.

So, let’s compare and contrast these two machines.

The Treadmill: Running Towards Weight Loss

Running on a treadmill can be a great way to burn calories and lose weight.

Benefits of a Treadmill Workout:

Treadmill Workout

1. High-Calorie Burn

Running at high speed or on an incline can burn a significant number of calories. According to Harvard Medical School, a person weighing 155 pounds can burn approximately 186 calories by walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 4.5 mph. If the same person runs at 6 mph, the calorie burn jumps to around 372 calories for a half hour.

2. Suitable for HIIT Workouts:

Treadmills are excellent for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and fixed periods of less-intense activity or rest. HIIT can significantly boost your calorie burn, even after you’re done with your workout.

3. Flexibility and Variety

Treadmills offer a range of settings to add variety to your workout, including speed and incline adjustments, pre-set workout programs, and manual mode. If you are in search of a high-quality treadmill, there are some fantastic models that you can find here.

Drawbacks of a Treadmill Workout:

However, there are a few things to consider before jumping on the treadmill:

1. Impact on Joints

Running can be high-impact, which can lead to injuries over time, especially for people with pre-existing joint issues.

2. Difficulty for Beginners

For those who are new to exercise or significantly overweight, running on a treadmill can be quite challenging.

The Elliptical: A Low-Impact Approach to Weight Loss

The elliptical trainer, on the other hand, offers a low-impact cardiovascular workout that can be suitable for people of all fitness levels.

Benefits of an Elliptical Workout:

Elliptical Interval Workout

1. Full Body Workout

Most elliptical machines come with handles, which means while your legs are working, your arms are too. This can result in a higher calorie burn because you’re engaging more muscle groups.

2. Low-Impact

Elliptical workouts are low-impact, which can be beneficial for those with joint issues. The motion of an elliptical can mimic running without the hard impact on the joints.

3. Reverse Stride

Many ellipticals allow you to stride in reverse, which can engage different muscle groups and add variety to your workout.

Drawbacks of an Elliptical Workout:

However, elliptical trainers also come with their own set of cons:

1. Less Calorie Burn

Typically, ellipticals burn fewer calories than treadmills. The exact number will depend on your weight, the resistance setting, and the intensity of your workout. But generally speaking, unless you’re working very hard on the elliptical, your calorie burn might be lower than on a treadmill.

2. Less Natural Movement

Some users find the movement of an elliptical less natural or more awkward compared to walking or running.

Which One Is Suitable for Weight Loss

Treadmill Vs Elliptical Which is Best for Weight Loss

Weight loss essentially boils down to the simple principle of calories in vs. calories out: to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. So, in terms of pure calorie-burning power, which machine comes out on top?

The Treadmill: The Calorie Incinerator

Running on a treadmill generally burns more calories than working out on an elliptical simply because it typically involves more effort. The exact number of calories you’ll burn during a workout depends on factors like your weight, metabolism, and workout intensity, but running tends to be more intense than elliptical training.

According to Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person burns about 314 calories in 30 minutes of running at 5 mph, while the same person would burn around 365 calories running at 6 mph for the same amount of time.

The Elliptical: The Steady Burner

While elliptical workouts may not burn as many calories as treadmill workouts in the same amount of time, they still offer a substantial calorie burn. According to the same Mayo Clinic report, a 160-pound person would burn about 365 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous elliptical training.

The elliptical is also a great choice if you’re looking for a full-body workout, as it engages both your upper and lower body. This can lead to improved muscle tone and strength, which can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising.

The Verdict: Which Is Better for Your Need?

Ultimately, whether a treadmill or an elliptical is better for weight loss comes down to which machine you prefer and which one you feel you can use consistently. Consistency is key in any weight loss regimen, and it’s important to choose a machine that you enjoy using and that fits with your personal fitness level and goals.

Weight loss occurs when you create a calorie deficit, meaning you burn more calories than you consume. Both treadmills and ellipticals can help you achieve this, but you’ll also need to pay attention to your diet and overall activity levels.

Final Thoughts

While treadmills and ellipticals have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, they are both effective tools that can aid in weight loss. Try them both out and decide which one works best for you and your body. And always remember to consult with a health professional or a fitness trainer before beginning any new workout regimen.

Remember, it’s not just about which machine you use; it’s about showing up for yourself each day, making smart choices, and putting in the effort.

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