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Workout Showdown: Treadmills vs. Ellipticals

Workout Showdown: Treadmills vs. Ellipticals

Everyone knows that regular exercise is important, but that doesn't stop you from foregoing the gym because it's too cold, too far or too crowded. Bringing some quality fitness equipment in your home not only makes working out convenient, but it also helps you stick to your plan. But which machine is right for you: a treadmill or elliptical?

Before you make a decision, check out the differences between each machine so you can get some healthy, mood-boosting cardio under your belt whenever it fits your busy schedule. Once you make the final call, there'll be no more excuses to skip that Monday morning session.

Treadmills Ellipticals


Slightly more expensiveSlightly less expensive

Level of Impact

High-impact activityLow-impact activity

Fitness Customization

Offer customizable programsOffer customizable programs


Offer adjustable inclinesOffer reverse motion, cross training and adjustable inclines


Advantages of Treadmills

  • Running preparation - Because treadmills simulate outdoor running better than elliptical trainers do, these machines are better machines when preparing for a marathon or other run.
  • Ease of use - As long as you understand basic treadmill safety, these machines are easy to use for your workout routine.
  • More customizable programs - You can use features such as heart rate monitors and workout programming built into treadmills to customize programs to accommodate your fitness needs.
  • Adjustable inclines - The angle of incline can increase the resistance level of your workout.
Woman on NordicTrack 6.7 S Treadmill

Limitations of Treadmills

  • Different running style - Treadmills offer a workout that is similar to outdoor running, but several factors such as wind resistance, stride length and posture can change your running style outdoors.
  • High-impact workout - While there are some low-impact models available, running is more of a high-impact activity than using an elliptical. Because of this, treadmills are likely to be harder on your joints, which can be a concern for people with previous injuries or weak joints.


shop all treadmills

Featured: NordicTrack 6.7 S Treadmill 
NordicTrack C 850s Treadmill


Elliptical Trainers

Woman on a NordicTrack 7.5Z Elliptical

Advantages of Ellipticals

  • Customizable programs - Just like treadmills, elliptical trainers offer the ability to customize workouts based on your needs.
  • Adjustable inclines - Some machines offer a changeable incline to increase the resistance.
  • Low-impact workout - Since you're not lifting your feet off the ground, there is less impact for your knees, hips and back to absorb.
  • Reverse motion - Many elliptical machines have the option to pedal backwards, working out different muscles in your legs.
  • Cross training - Elliptical cross-trainers give you the ability to work your arms and upper body as well as your lower body with arm handles that move in conjunction with the elliptical pedals.

Limitations of Ellipticals

  • Little strength training - Because of the low-impact nature of an elliptical workout, you may not build as much muscle as you would while running on a treadmill.
  • Too easy - Elliptical cross-trainers add an upper body workout; however, the arm handles allow users to work their arms and feet with momentum rather than body strength, so there is less of a challenge in the workout.


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Featured: NordicTrack 7.5Z Elliptical
NordicTrack E 9.5i Elliptical Trainer