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Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which One is Right for You?

It’s not easy when you’ve got too equally good decisions in front of you, but when it comes to fitness equipment, at least, we can help simplify the buying process.  When you’re torn between an elliptical and a treadmill, consider these characteristics before making your purchase.

Treadmill 101

Treadmills offer a number of advantages over ellipticals, but they’re not for everybody.  Here’s a quick list of the benefits of the classic treadmill:

You already have the proper form.  Ellipticals require a specific stride to get the most out of the machine, but it takes some time to get it right.  On the other hand, most people have already mastered the proper form for running or walking on the treadmill -- it’s a plug and play option.

You’ll get a more consistent workout.  Once you’ve programmed your workout into the machine, your treadmill automatically raises and lowers the ramp and changes the speed on the belt, forcing you to keep running at a certain pace and intensity.  An elliptical is powered by your legs alone, and if you’re not really consistent your workout will suffer.

You’ll strengthen your bones while building muscle.  You can certainly burn fat and work your muscles on either machine, but it takes weight-bearing exercise to build and strengthen bone.  In general, the better body-wide exercise comes from the treadmill.

Decades of thought were put into their design.  The treadmill is one of the longest-used pieces of complex exercise equipment in the modern world.  First designed in the 1800s, there’s not much that hasn’t been researched about these flexible machines.  That’s great if you’re worried about long-term effects or have specific health questions that need answers.

Elliptical Basics

Even though treadmills are time-proven technologies, they’re not a hands-down winner in the great elliptical versus treadmill debate.  Consider an elliptical if any of these items applies to you:

You’ve got joint pain or degenerative joint disease.  Joint problems are the number one reason anybody should choose an elliptical over a treadmill.  Even though you won’t be building up your bones, you also won’t be destroying your already unstable joints by using this machine.

You’re looking for a cross-training machine.  Working out on a treadmill is great for your legs, hips and glutes, but it does very little for your upper body.  By employing the ski pole-like handles on an elliptical machine, you get a more complete workout all in one place.

You want to push yourself.  Anybody can follow the program on a treadmill, but it takes real dedication and determination to get a proper workout on an elliptical.  You have to be honest with yourself and adjust the tension any time the workout gets too easy to get the most from the machine.  Otherwise, the momentum from your initial speed will do the workout for you.

Before you settle on one piece of equipment, make sure to read our

Proform treadmill review page for a complete picture of this type of machine.  Don’t forget to also check out these elliptical reviews here. Beyond just knowing what the machines do, it’s a good idea to find out what real people think about them -- that’ll help you get an idea of how each piece works for people like you.

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