Getting the right elliptical for your body and budget!

Is Elliptical or Treadmill Better for Weight Loss?     

(Last Updated On: September 1, 2022)

is an elliptical or treadmill better for weight loss?Is the elliptical or treadmill better for weight loss and for burning calories? That is the burning question of the hour. (Pun Intended)

Both cardio machines target major muscle groups in the lower body. So if you’re trying to lose weight, both will help you burn extra calories.

Does a Treadmill or Elliptical Burn More Calories?

A study performed by Harvard Medical School found that for the average 155-pound person, 30 minutes on the elliptical burns 335 calories. On the same person, 30 minutes on the treadmill can burn 372 calories. So, if your goal is overall caloric burn rate, the treadmill outshines the elliptical by a smidge. It’s important to keep in mind that the calorie burn of your workout will largely depend on your weight and the intensity output of your exercise. 

Advantages of Treadmills Over Ellipticals


You can use the treadmill for walking, jogging, and sprinting

High Intensity Exercise

Studies show that consistent HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is shown to reduce total body fat mass and waist circumference. 

Burn Calories

Many studies performed give treadmills a slight edge in caloric burn when compared to ellipticals.

Feel More Natural

By using a treadmill, you’ll mimic walking or running outdoors.

Ideal for the Lower Body

Using a treadmill targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. That’s why it’s a great lower body exercise. If you want your lower body to get into shape and toned, consistent treadmill exercise is a great tool.

Disadvantages of Treadmills

Tough on the Joints

When you’re walking or running on a treadmill, your joints are getting continual impact. If you have an injury or joint pain, this can cause issues/

Targets the Lower Body Only

Walking and running on a treadmill is a great exercise for the lower body, but the upper body is ignored. A treadmill doesn’t target any muscles in your upper body. 

Not Considered as Safe as Ellipticals 

Running at high speeds, and having to change your treadmill speed can increase your chances of falling and injuring yourself.

When to Use a Treadmill

A treadmill may be more appropriate if:

  • You do not have any injuries and running on a treadmill doesn’t aggravate any joints
  • You’re trying to achieve a certain goal – such as a race 
  • You enjoy the option of high intensity exercise training
  • You want to focus on engaging your calves and glutes

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When Should I Avoid Using a Treadmill?

Avoid running or walking on a treadmill if:

  • You recently had a knee injury
  • If you are suffering from low back pain
  • If you just had heart surgery
  • If your doctor says so

Advantages of Ellipticals Over Treadmills

Easy on the Joints

During elliptical movement, the feet are stationary. This completely avoids joint impact.

Exercise for the Whole Body

Your arms and legs are in constant motion when exercising on an elliptical. So, not only are your leg and arm muscles active, but it strengthens your core as well. 

Go in Reverse, Too!

On elliptical machines, you can use the pedals in reverse. This way you can perform mixed workouts that target other muscles.

Great for Injury Rehab

Ellipticals are a great cross-training option if you are rehabilitating an injury. 

Read more: How to Rehab Injuries with an Elliptical

Disadvantages of Ellipticals 

Unnatural Movement

Some people simply won’t like the movement pattern of an elliptical.

Less Muscle Growth 

Although ellipticals incorporate more muscles than ellipticals, ellipticals are less impact. Less impact translates into less muscle growth. If you want to increase your muscle and bone strength, you’ll still need to add some weight-bearing exercises to your exercise regimen. 

When to Use Ellipticals

Elliptical machines can be used in the following cases:

  • You have an injury or joint pain
  • You need a low-impact form of exercise 
  • You want to incorporate your upper body as well during exercise 

Shopping for an elliptical? See current elliptical coupons and sales

When Should I Avoid Using an Elliptical?

Since ellipticals are such a low-impact exercise option, the only real reason that you should avoid elliptical use is if the movement is unnatural to you/you don’t like it, or if you’ve been instructed by your doctor to avoid exercise. 

The Bottom Line: Is an Elliptical or Treadmill Better for Weight Loss? 

When it comes to losing weight, any type of cardiovascular exercise is going to increase your daily calorie burn, and help you in your journey to weight loss. The US Department of Health & Human Services suggests to aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

There are pros and cons to using both ellipticals and treadmills. The choice mainly comes down to your preference. At the end of the day, the main variable in weight loss is consistency. Find the right piece of cardio equipment that you enjoy using and that you’ll be able to stick with to achieve your health and wellness goals. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can you lose belly fat with an elliptical? 

Any type of consistent aerobic exercise, including an elliptical, in combination with a good nutrition plan, can result in loss of belly fat.

What is the best type of cardio for losing weight?

A great option for low intensity cardio is the elliptical trainer, while a good option for high intensity activity is the treadmill.

Is 30 minutes of exercise a day enough? 

It’s recommended to exercise moderately for 150 minutes a week, or vigorously for 75 minutes a week. 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to maintain or even lose weight.

Can an elliptical make my thighs smaller?

Ellipticals don’t spot target fat loss, however they can strengthen the thigh muscles, making them appear smaller.

How long does it take to see results on an elliptical?

If you stick to consistent exercise several times a week, it generally takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks to start seeing results from elliptical exercise.

How often should I use an elliptical to lose weight?

In order to lose weight, it’s recommended to use an elliptical 5x per week to help in burning more calories.

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