Smutty Fitness: Treadmill or elliptical?

February 19, 2015 14:48:41 Posted at February 19, 2015 14:48:41
Hayley Posted by Hayley

Hi Hayley,
Which do you recommend - treadmills or elliptical machines?  And if I'm considering buying one for home, can you recommend a brand that is actually worth the investment?


When it comes to exercise, unless you are training for something specific, it does not matter what you are doing to get your heart rate up, you just need to be getting your heart rate up. So for me to say that one is better than another would be wrong, as both serve a purpose in weight loss and fitness.

Why am I a fan of these machines? They allow you to work hard without placing too much stress on your joints. A few years back when I tore ligaments in my ankle I was forced to use an elliptical for 4 weeks to keep up my fitness, which allowed me to compete in a half marathon just 6 weeks after the initial injury, and I nearly ran a personal best. These machines are great if you have joint problems or you are over-weight and find that anything of impact causes you pain.

Why I am not a fan of these machines? It is very easy to fool yourself into thinking you are working hard.  You can waste a lot of time on an elliptical if you are not pushing yourself, so it takes a lot more drive from within to make sure you are keeping your heart rate up. I highly recommend that you wear a heart rate monitor and stay in your higher end zones if you are doing anything less than 40 minutes. They are also quite large and can take up a lot of space in your home, so when you are buying one do not go with a commercial model as you will not need something that heavy duty. 

Why I love them? Because I use them all the time. They are a quick way to get in a very intense workout and they allow you lots of variety from steep incline walking to speed intervals to long, slow runs. They are efficient calorie burners and it is not up to you to set the pace, like the elliptical, but rather you need to keep up with the pace that you have set it to. They are also great to lessen the impact you would have on your body if you were running outside, so it is great if you are wanting to walk or run, but limit the stress on your joints.

Why I don’t like them? If you are not careful, you can also trick yourself into thinking that you are working harder than you are. Walking, or running, while holding on to the machine can dramatically decrease the energy expenditure. Also, running or walking without adding at least a 1.5% incline does not require your body to propel itself forward, or work against gravity, so if you are training for a running event and do your entire program on the treadmill you will be shocked at how hard it is to actually run outside. Just like the elliptical, stay away from commercial models and go with something smaller.

For both ellipticals and treadmills I recommend looking at Life Fitness. They make a great product that is reasonably priced, well made, and will last you a long time.

But why do I rarely recommend the purchase a piece of cardio equipment for your home? Because 9 times out of 10 it turns into a laundry drying rack. I see it all the time! Make sure that if you are going to invest a few thousand dollars into a machine like this, you are actually going to use it. 

Attached - Colin Farrell leaving a yoga class the other day.

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