Friday, January 20, 2012

Treadmills vs Elliptical Trainers - Which Gives a Better Workout

In today's world of fitness crazes and new-fangled exercise tools, many fads come and go. For example, how many people are working out daily with a Thigh Master. But, occasionally, an idea is hit upon that really works! An exercise machine is created that actually does what it says it will do. It promotes fitness and wellness. It helps both novice and fitness enthusiasts reach their exercise goals. It has 'staying' power!

Two of the most popular fitness machines used today are the treadmill and the elliptical trainer. What makes these machines so popular? Why are they favored over other exercise devices?


The treadmill has been around for over a decade and remains popular among novice and seasoned athletes. The reason for its popularity is it is appealing to walkers and runners and it is a relatively simple machine. Anyone can walk, there are no special skills involved.

A newer exercise machine, the elliptical, is gaining on the treadmill in its popularity ranking. It offers the benefit of a total body workout without the impact.

How do treadmills compare with elliptical training equipment? What benefits do each machine offer? Could one of these be right for you?

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical trainers are relatively new to the fitness equipment industry. They have increased in popularity during the last few years. And rate of growth is surpassing that of treadmills. But, do they deliver what they promise?

Elliptical trainers allow the athlete to burn a similar number of calories as jogging...but without the risk of injury to the back, knees, hips, or ankles. Your feet never leave the pedals. As a result, this type of machine is quite low-impact and goes easy on the joints. In fact, whereas exercising on a treadmill requires your body to absorb the impact force of walking or running, exercising on an elliptical can be compared to running in midair. Running can result in 2.5x your body weight impacting a treadmill.

Because ellipticals are so low-impact and easy on the joints, this type of exercise equipment may very well be one of the best choices for older people or for individuals who are recovering from a joint injury. That may be why it is so popular with us baby boomers, whose joints have taken such a beating over the years.

Elliptical machines mimic the normal elliptical motion of the foot, the extension of the leg, and the rotation of the hip during walking or running. This motion uses all the leg muscles, giving you a total lower-body workout.

But, WAIT! There's more! Elliptical motion machines ALSO simultaneously work the upper body (unlike the treadmill, which works only the lower body)! As the feet go through their elliptical motion, the hands grip the moving handlebars, exercising the arms. The movement of the dual handlebars mimics cross-country skiing. Now, this particular type of workout may not necessarily pump you up to look like a bodybuilder. However, because you are including the upper 30% of your body in your workouts, the results will be more efficient. (And, those arms will be toned in no time!)

Because elliptical trainers DO work the upper and lower body simultaneously, the heart rate climbs more quickly. Thus, less time is required to achieve more results. The amount of energy expended is optimized. As the legs are being worked, the back, shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps are also working...making it possible to burn more calories in less time. (An optimal workout need only be about 20-30 minutes long.)

The foot pedals can be worked in a forward or reverse direction. When you change the direction of the pedals, you'll target your lower body in different ways. It is nice to be able to add versatility to your elliptical workouts, and such a change works to ensure optimal training of the leg muscles.

The intensity level can be adjusted on elliptical equipment to fit your personal level of fitness. Resistance may be added as desired to increase the workload on your legs throughout the forward or backward stride. With such an efficient workout, you can say 'goodbye' to flabby thighs and derrieres!

Previous studies have shown that working out on an elliptical unit can trick the body into believing it is working easier than it actually is. Therefore, as you're burning more calories in less time on an elliptical trainer, your body feels as though it doesn't have to work as hard to achieve its goals. This phenomenon is known as the "Rate of Perceived Exertion."

Additional benefits of elliptical training include its ability to build bone density and to inhibit the onset of osteoporosis.

Everyone needs strong, healthy bones. This is especially a concern as we grow older, and our body's bone mass begins to deteriorate. Elliptical exercise can inhibit bone deterioration and actually improve bone thickness.

An elliptical device is safe to use (i.e. it stops when you stop). It uses very little electricity and is economical to operate. Because of its lesser impact, there is less wear and tear of the machine, making maintenance quite low. It has a small footprint, so it takes up less floor space than other fitness equipment. And, as with the treadmill, it allows you to exercise in a controlled environment for more comfort and convenience.

With all the benefits and the practicality of elliptical training machines, they just might end up exceeding the treadmill in popularity! For more information on elliptical trainers go to Elliptical Trainers Ratings and Reviews.


Treadmills are the most popular fitness equipment. They are simple to use and provide an excellent cardiovascular workout. Treadmills allow you to walk, jog or run, they also can simulate hill climbing.

The two most popular forms of exercising are running and walking. Whether you are a casual walker or a serious runner, a treadmill can accommodate your exercise needs. Set the speed and incline to suite your desired cardiovascular goals. You can do a power walk up an incline or a heart pumping run at high speed.

Most power treadmills offer a number of pre-set programs and intensity levels from which to choose. On these particular machines, you may program in your personal information (i.e. age, weight, height, fitness level, etc.). Then, you may choose a pre-set program (such as 'killer hill' or 'weight-loss'), and the unit will automatically adjust the workout to fit your specifications.

If you'd rather manually begin treadmilling, you can bypass the pre-set programs and adjust the incline, speed, and the time yourself. And, even if you've chosen a pre-set program, you have the option of changing the incline level or speed level at any time.

Running on a treadmill with a nicely cushioned running surface provides less impact on the knees, shins, ankles, back, and joints than does running on pavement or on a track or trail. As a result, the runner who uses a treadmill is less likely to sustain a running injury than a runner who runs upon a harder surface. (Nonetheless, a runner's body will still experience impact when the foot lands on the belt.)

Outdoors, you could possibly trip over a rock or twist your ankle in an unseen hole in the ground. You don't have to worry about unseen road or trail hazards when exercising on a treadmill. You need only maintain your rhythm on the moving belt.

And the Winner Is!

So which is better, a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Both give an excellent cardio workout and when used regularly will burn unwanted calories.

For a walking or running devotee, the treadmill is the machine of choice. Even if you prefer the great outdoors, the treadmill allows you to continue your favorite sport all year long and in the most inclement weather. A treadmill will reduce injuries since you workout on a flat surface that is cushioned. It can add variety to your workout through various challenging programs. And with heart rate control you can optimize your exercising by allowing your heart rate to control the level of exertion.

The appeal of an elliptical is the combined upper and lower body workout, and the low-impact. You exercise more muscle groups, while avoiding the kind of impact that can result in injuries. For those of us whose knees or ankles just can't take it any longer, the elliptical trainer is the obvious choice.

So which one do you choose? Depending upon your preference and needs either can be an excellent choice.

Treadmills vs Elliptical Trainers - Which Gives a Better Workout

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for years. To learn more about treadmills you can visit his Treadmill Ratings and Reviews site.

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