Which Is Better for Weight Loss Elliptical or Treadmill?

If you are trying to determine which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill, you may want to read this article to find out what each offers over the other

Which Is Better For Weight Loss Elliptical or Treadmill?

Category: Fitness Tips & How-Tos

If you are trying to determine which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill, you may want to read this article to find out what each offers over the other.

When working towards weight loss it is important to maintain consistency to burn the calories needed, and to burn more calories then you consume. An all over approach is the best, using weight or resistance training as well as cardio exercises to both burn calories and increase muscle strength and muscle mass.

It is necessary to consider all goals and any previous injury as well as health concerns before choosing or beginning a new exercise routine. Both an elliptical and a treadmill will help with weight loss, each one having its own benefits and risk, and personal preference plays a key role in maintaining the consistence required to meet your goals, so when considering elliptical vs treadmill not only does calorie count matter, but targeted muscle groups and comfort of use.

Choosing which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill may come down to determining the right fit for you in ensure you achieve your goals. The elliptical  is a great workout option for low impact on the joints with it’s circular stepping motion and arm movements, or a treadmill for walking or running.

Elliptical vs Treadmill, what does each do?


For a full body work out

For a full body work out comparing which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill, the elliptical has a slight edge of advantage, as the arms move along with the legs, and the positioning causes the core muscles to engage keeping the body upright and moving well together. If the goal is to maintain natural movements and easily adjustable workouts the treadmill creates several challenges with includes and speeds to keep things different each time.

Flexibility and a natural movement

A treadmill offers flexibility and a natural movement of walking or running, allowing the body to maintain a natural position throughout. With changes in speed and timing along with the ability to add ankle or wrist weights a treadmill can offer a wide range of work out possibilities with little other equipment. It will help to increase the running speed and can be used for training as needed, and help people remain active no matter the season or weather outside.

While either of these machines can be used almost daily it is still important to include rest days every week to allow the muscles time to heal and restore, or they become more likely to be injured. A muscle injury can be minor and heal in a few days or it may take weeks or even months to heal. Even a safe activity can lead to injury when not done correctly or with the right posture, using the equipment correctly, and allowing rest days and time to recuperate.

Low Impact movements

When comparing which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill, it is necessary to first know what each does and how.

The movements of an elliptical are created to be gentle on the joints and keep the impact on the joints and the muscles to be low, reducing the likelihood of injury and slowing down the wear on the cartilage between the joints to a minimum. This is a safe work out that the majority of people can do with low injury risk, but it everyone should check with their doctors before starting any work out routine.

An elliptical has separate footholds that will move separately and oppositely with each leg as it moves forward and backward. The foot never leaves the platform of the foothold and therefore there is no impact when it returns. The hands go on a hand hold and move with the motion of the machine, increasing the calories burned by moving more of the muscles throughout the body. 


A treadmill is one conveyor belt type base that moves with the footfalls in a constant direction front to back. They each require correct posture for the most effective work out and to lower the risk of injury, engaging the muscles of not only the legs but also the core. In each instance correct form is important to avoid injury, though each is a safe activity when done with caution.

Both do for weight loss

Either an elliptical or a treadmill will encourage weight loss and maintaining the loss, through burning calories and increasing the heart rate. With consistent use either elliptical or treadmill will improve health in general, stamina, lung capacity, and muscle strength. Choosing one to purchase should be done after trying each to see which is the better fit.


The disadvantages of the elliptical are that it is repetitive, which over time can wear the cartridge and joints, increasing pain after a session and making the muscles more susceptible to injury. Having a cardio work out is important, and can be aided by having other work outs added in between to change the motion of the muscles and build strength, which will boost the affects of your elliptical sessions as well.

Size and popularity

Treadmills are a popular way to get cardio workouts and fit well in any home gym or even as a stand alone piece of equipment within a home. It allows for any speed of exercise, making it suitable for those starting out and for those who are more experienced and even training. Many are folding and can fit in any small apartment or space, and they range in size and functions to large units that track statistics and usage, even those that are programmable.

A treadmill offers a good way to begin exercise regimes as they can be adjusted to fit the needs of anyone, however the impact made each time either foot comes down and hits the surface to push forward another step can be jarring and may increase damages to the joints and the speed at which those joints deteriorate.

Comparing Elliptical vs Treadmill:  Summary of Pros & Cons for each


which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill


An elliptical is easily fit into a home gym or even just included with the home as the only piece of work out equipment, allowing anyone to work out at home. Creating a space for a workout whenever suits each individual schedule and keep exercise accessible even when a gym pass is unavailable, or the weather is detrimental to exercise outdoors.

Elliptical Pros:

  • Whole body work out including arms, legs, core
  • Low impact on joints
  • Adjustable speed
  • Can combine with other activities such as watching TV, listening to music, etc
  • Can be used almost daily
  • Can be used year round
  • Increase lung capacity
  • Increase stamina
  • Improve overall health
  • Strengthen muscles

Elliptical Cons:

  • Repetitive movements can wear on joints and muscles
  • Can make misaligned joints worse through use
  • Not hands free for other activities
  • Even folded takes up a large footprint in the room
  • It does not offer a complete workout on its own
  • Injury can occur with improper posture



14 Best Ellipticals under 500: Build A Home Gym On A Budget


Treadmill Pros:

  • Fully adjustable for personalized work outs
  • Full control over speed and incline
  • Can be hands free as needed, for working, reading, and other activities
  • Many are foldable and take little storage space
  • Can be used year round
  • Full body work out if arms are moved with the legs
  • Builds muscle strength in legs
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Increases stamina
  • Can increase running speed
  • Used for training for runners, long distance or short
  • Can carry hand weights for extra resistance
  • Ankle weights increase resistance for legs, making them stronger

Treadmill Cons:

  • Repetitive impact on knees can be hard on the joints
  • Faster running creates harder impacts
  • Repetitive work outs may become boring


19 Best Treadmills Under 1000: Ultimate Fitness Buying Guide

Which Is Better For Weight Loss Elliptical or Treadmill: Deciding Which Is Best For You


which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill


When choosing which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill it may come down to personal preference. Each machine can be a full work out on its own, boosting cardio, lung capacity, and endurance. Each of the two machines will provide a stable workout that is safe to use several days each week, with rest days on the others. It is very important to maintain rest days, as they allow muscles to heal and strengthen between sessions.

While both an elliptical and a treadmill will provide cardio exercise, an elliptical is easier on the joints and maintains a lower impact then a treadmill will. This impact of each foot fall is the biggest difference when comparing elliptical vs treadmill. The foot does not lift off the machine but instead the footholds move with the foot, removing the impact moment of the foot returning to the surface. The treadmill however allows the hands to be free and to do other activities at the same time, making it easy to fit into daily life and easier to remain consistency in use.

Final Take

Considerations on which is better for weight loss elliptical or treadmill should be based on size, function, and compatibility with your lifestyle, as well as any goals in addition to weight loss, and which feels most comfortable to you. 

An elliptical will cause less strain on the joints in the ankle, knee, and hips, and will increase calorie burn by using the arms as well, but a treadmill offers more flexibility in when it can be used and what activities can be completed during the session.


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