Elliptical or Incline Treadmill

Elliptical or Incline Treadmill: Choosing the Best Cardio Machine for You

  • 10 min read

When it comes to cardiovascular equipment, the decision between using an elliptical or an incline treadmill can be driven by personal fitness goals, physical condition, and preference.

Elliptical trainers offer a low-impact workout that simulates stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure on the joints. This makes them a good choice for those with injuries or joint issues.

On the other hand, incline treadmills enhance the intensity of walking or running by adding an uphill component to the exercise. They can be particularly effective for building leg strength, improving cardio fitness, and burning calories.


 Jump to section


The design and features of elliptical machines and incline treadmills cater to different workout needs. Elliptical machines often include handles, providing an opportunity to engage the upper body in addition to the lower body, contributing to a full-body workout.

Additionally, most models let you pedal backward, targeting different muscle groups.

Incline treadmills, designed for walking or running, offer adjustable incline settings to simulate uphill terrain. This can increase the intensity of the workout and target specific muscle groups like the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.


Key Takeaways

  • Ellipticals provide a low-impact, full-body workout suitable for those with joint concerns.
  • Incline treadmills focus on leg strength and cardio, offering high-intensity uphill exercise.
  • Both machines offer features that cater to varied fitness goals and can be adjusted for workout intensity.
elliptical or incline treadmill main image



Understanding Treadmills and Ellipticals


When selecting a piece of exercise equipment, it's essential to understand how treadmills and ellipticals differ, along with their effects on joints and calorie burning potential.


Key Differences

Treadmills offer a versatile workout platform that can simulate the natural movement of walking or running. They can be adjusted for speed and incline to vary the intensity of the workout.

Ellipticals, on the other hand, provide a low-impact cardio exercise that typically combines lower-body pedalling with upper-body resistance, targeting multiple muscle groups.


Impact on Joints

One of the primary considerations when choosing between a treadmill and an elliptical machine is the impact on joints.

Treadmills, although often equipped with shock absorption, still involve a degree of impact with each step. This can be stressful on joints, especially with higher speed and incline.

Elliptical machines offer a low-impact alternative, as they allow the feet to remain stationary on the pedals, reducing stress on the knees, hips, and back.

Calorie Burning Potential

When it comes to calorie burn, both machines have the potential to offer a high-calorie workout. However, the actual calories burned will depend on several factors such as intensity, duration, and the user's body weight.

Typically, using a treadmill at a high incline can increase the calorie burning potential because it requires more energy to overcome the added resistance.

Ellipticals can also provide a significant calorie burn, especially if the resistance and arm involvement are utilised to engage the whole body.


elliptical or incline treadmill


Choosing the Right Machine for Your Goals


When selecting the ideal exercise equipment, it's crucial that one considers their specific fitness objectives and personal health constraints, while also taking into account space availability and financial limitations.


Evaluating Fitness Goals

To align with personal fitness ambitions, one must discern their targeted outcomes. Those aiming to prepare for endurance events like marathons may find an incline treadmill advantageous due to its simulation of varied terrains and its facilitation of vigorous cardiovascular workouts.

Conversely, ellipticals offer low-impact alternatives that are gentle on the joints, catering to those who prefer a comprehensive, full-body regimen without the high-impact strain on lower extremities.


Consideration of Health Conditions

Exercise machines should cater to individual health concerns. Ellipticals are notably beneficial for individuals with osteoarthritis, as they minimise joint stress while delivering a considerable aerobic challenge.

Those with osteoporosis may consider treadmills with incline features to help improve bone density through weight-bearing exercises. Monitoring one's heart rate is essential for patient's with cardiovascular conditions; machines with heart rate monitors are preferred in this scenario.

  • Treadmill: May be suitable for improving bone density in osteoporosis.
  • Elliptical: Excellent for those with arthritis or fragile joints.


Space and Budget Constraints

Space confines and financial resources are decisive factors. Treadmills often require more room and can be folded for storage in a home gym setting, whereas ellipticals tend to occupy a fixed amount of space.

The cost of these machines varies, with budget-friendly options available alongside high-end models that provide additional features like variable incline or advanced heart rate monitors. It is critical to balance one’s budget with the desire for durability and technological conveniences.


Design and Features of Ellipticals and Incline Treadmills


Ellipticals and incline treadmills incorporate a range of design features and settings to cater to the diverse needs of users. These workout machines differentiate themselves with various resistance settings, incline options, and additional functionalities that enhance the exercise experience.


Resistance and Incline Settings

Ellipticals, known for their low-impact cardiovascular workout, typically offer adjustable resistance levels, which can alter the intensity of the exercise.

The resistance of an elliptical machine is often controlled electronically and can be easily changed during a workout. Users can simulate climbing hills or increase the intensity as they improve their fitness levels.

On the other hand, incline treadmills provide an adjustable slope, emulating uphill walking or running.

The incline level can significantly impact the intensity of a workout, targeting specific muscle groups and increasing caloric burn. Most contemporary incline treadmills allow users to adjust the incline mid-session, offering a dynamic and challenging workout.


Additional Functionalities

Modern ellipticals and incline treadmills come equipped with an array of additional functionalities to improve the user experience.

These can include pre-set workouts designed for different fitness goals, whether it's cardio health, weight loss, or endurance training.

Interactive features may range from simple LCD screens displaying real-time workout data to advanced touch screens with internet connectivity and immersive running environments.

Handles and pedals are ergonomically designed to provide comfort and safety. Many machines offer heart rate monitors built into the handles, allowing users to stay within their target heart rate zones.

Pedals are typically oversized to accommodate a wide range of foot sizes and include cushioning to minimise the impact on joints.

The integration of technology is another feature, with Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with fitness apps allowing users to track their progress and customise their programs.


Exercise Techniques and Workout Routines


The following describes focused approaches to using elliptical machines and treadmills with incline for enhancing cardiovascular health, building muscle strength, and preventing injuries. These regimens aim to maximise the benefits while mitigating risks during exercise.


Optimising for Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health can be significantly improved through consistent and correctly-executed aerobic exercises.

Utilising an elliptical trainer at varying resistance levels can increase the heart rate efficiently. It simulates running or walking without the high-impact stress on the joints.

Similarly, utilising a treadmill with an incline can mirror the intensity of uphill running, which elevates heart rate and increases cardiovascular exertion.

For an effective cardio workout, individuals may begin with a 5 to 10-minute warm-up followed by 20 to 30 minutes at a moderate to high intensity that feels challenging yet sustainable.


Strength Training and Muscle Engagement

Strength training is integral for overall muscular health and can be incorporated into elliptical workouts or treadmill sessions.

By adjusting the resistance and incline, users can target different muscle groups. These include calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and even the upper body when using the moving handles of an elliptical machine.

A variety of routines such as interval sprints, hill repeats, or steady-state hill walks ensure that muscles are engaged differently in each session. This promotes muscle growth and prevents plateaus in strength gains.


Injury Prevention and Posture

To avoid injuries such as joint pain or running injuries, maintaining proper posture on an elliptical or treadmill is crucial.

Attention to body alignment — head above shoulders, shoulders above hips — coupled with mindful, controlled movements can minimise strain.

On an elliptical, one should ensure even weight distribution. Meanwhile, on a treadmill, setting an appropriate incline without overstriding helps in reducing injury risk.

Including backward walking or running in the routine can also engage muscle groups differently and provide a break from repetitive forward motion.


Maximising Results and Tracking Progress


When endeavouring to enhance fitness outcomes on an elliptical or incline treadmill, an individual should establish clear fitness objectives and engage in varied, challenging workouts. Accurate progress tracking enables the optimisation of each exercise session.


Setting and Tracking Fitness Objectives

It’s critical for exercisers to define specific goals related to their fitness journey, such as a target for calories burned or an improvement in cardiovascular endurance.

These objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

For effective tracking, they might use tools like fitness apps or wearables that provide real-time data on calories burned and other exercise metrics.


Incorporating Variety and Challenges

To prevent plateaus and maintain motivation, adding variety and challenge to workouts is essential.

Interval training—alternating between periods of high and low intensity—can maximise calories burned on both elliptical machines and incline treadmills.

Incorporating changes in intensity and incline not only introduces variety but also increases the challenge, encouraging the body to adapt and improve.


Health Benefits and Safety Considerations


When engaging in physical activities such as using an elliptical or an incline treadmill, one can enjoy numerous health benefits, including weight management and improved musculoskeletal health. However, safety considerations, especially for individuals with joint issues or those new to exercise, are crucial to prevent injuries and maximise the advantages of these exercises.


Low-Impact Advantages

Elliptical machines and incline treadmills offer low-impact cardiovascular workouts, posing less strain on the joints compared to high-impact activities like running.

These exercises can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing joint issues or recovering from running injuries, as they help maintain fitness without exacerbating pain or discomfort.


Improving Bone and Muscle Health

Regular use of an elliptical or an incline treadmill may contribute to improved bone density and muscle strength. Such weight-bearing activities stimulate bone remodelling and growth, aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Moreover, the resistance and incline settings can be adjusted to tailor workouts for muscle building, beneficial for weight loss and overall fitness.


Consulting Health Professionals

Before beginning any new fitness regimen, it is essential to consult with a health professional, particularly for those with pre-existing health conditions.

A doctor can provide personalised advice that may include a suitable diet in conjunction with an exercise plan. It ensures the chosen exercise not only aligns with the individual's weight loss or fitness goals but also takes into account their overall health and dietary needs.


Maintenance and Equipment Longevity

Proper maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of elliptical machines and incline treadmills, ensuring they remain cost-effective and high-quality components of a fitness regimen.


Routine Care and Upkeep

Elliptical machines require regular cleaning to keep them in optimal condition.

Users should wipe down the sweat and any other debris after each use to prevent corrosion. The joints and movable parts should be lubricated semi-annually to ensure smooth motion and reduce wear on the machine.

Regular inspection of the foot pedals and handlebars ensures safety and can preempt the failure of these critical components.

For incline treadmills, one must routinely adjust the belt to keep it centred. It is crucial to keep the belt clean and free of debris that can accumulate from the surroundings or shoes, as this can affect the motor's performance.

At least once a year, one should verify the tension and alignment of the treadmill's belt to avoid undue stress on the motor.

Should the treadmill's motor become noisy or emit a burning smell, it suggests the need for immediate servicing to prevent costly repairs.


Understanding Warranties and Servicing

When investing in fitness equipment, it is important to understand the terms of the warranty.

Most manufacturers offer a variety of warranties covering labour, parts, and the motor for different lengths of time. The length and terms of the warranty can be indicative of the equipment's quality; a longer warranty often suggests a more durable product.

Customers should register their product upon purchase to facilitate easier access to support and servicing.

Knowing when and how to use the warranty helps maintain the equipment effectively without incurring additional costs.

However, for issues not covered by warranty—or for equipment out of warranty—engaging with a reputable service provider is essential for research and part replacement to ensure the repairs are effective and do not further compromise the machinery's integrity.


Frequently Asked Questions


In considering options for fitness equipment, it is essential to understand the distinctions in effectiveness and impact, especially when judging between an incline treadmill and an elliptical machine.


Which is more effective for weight loss, a treadmill with incline or an elliptical machine?

It largely depends on the intensity of the workout.

A treadmill with incline increases resistance and can lead to higher energy expenditure, often translating to more calories burnt compared to a standard treadmill. However, an elliptical can also provide a low-impact, full-body workout that is effective for burning calories.

What are the benefits of using an incline treadmill compared to an elliptical for cardiovascular health?

Using an incline treadmill enhances cardiovascular conditioning by simulating uphill exercise, which may improve the heart's efficiency. Elliptical trainers offer cardiovascular benefits as well but may allow for longer workouts with less perceived exertion.

Can the use of an elliptical machine reduce abdominal fat as effectively as a treadmill?

Reduction of abdominal fat can occur with any cardiovascular equipment that burns calories, including ellipticals and treadmills. Neither machine targets abdominal fat specifically, as fat loss generally occurs throughout the body.

Which is more suitable for older adults looking to maintain fitness, an incline treadmill or an elliptical?

For older adults, an elliptical machine is often recommended. It provides a low-impact workout, reducing strain on the joints while still offering the opportunity to maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness.

How does an incline treadmill impact lower body muscles, such as the glutes, in comparison to an elliptical?

An incline treadmill specifically targets the glutes and hamstrings, as it simulates an uphill climb, which increases muscle activation in these areas. An elliptical also engages the lower body but distributes the effort across a broader range of muscles.

Are there any significant drawbacks to using an elliptical machine for regular workouts?

Elliptical machines are popular for their low impact on the joints. However, some users may find the movement less natural than walking or running. They also may not provide the same level of weight-bearing exercise, which is important for bone health.

Learning to bench press properly is crucial for anyone interested in strength training. The bench press is a fundamental exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It’s known for building significant upper-body strength and muscle mass. Practising with the right form ensures maximum effectiveness and minimises the risk of injury.
  • 28 min read
If you're serious about leg day, you've likely encountered the leg press machine and the hack squat machine. Both machines are excellent for building strength, size, and definition in your lower body.
  • 13 min read
Choosing between an exercise bike and walking as a workout can be a tough decision. Each option offers unique benefits, and the best choice often depends on your personal fitness goals and preferences.

If you're looking to burn more calories in less time, an exercise bike might be the better option for you. On the other hand, walking is a more accessible and low-impact exercise that is easy on your joints.
  • 8 min read
Cardio Online Easy Returns
Cardio Online contact us phone number
Cardio Online Live Chat Contact Us
Cardio Online Price Match guarantee
Cardio Online Aussie Owned Small Business