Cross Trainer Or Treadmill – Which Is Best?

Cross trainers and treadmills are staples in any gym. You’ll find that both of these popular machines are frequently occupied because both facilitate a great cardio workout – but which comes out on top?

If you’re wondering which machine to spend time on during your next gym session and which is the best option for your training goals, our article will help you decide.

woman walking on a treadmill

The cross trainer vs treadmill

Both cross trainer and a treadmill will raise your heart rate and get your blood pumping. They’re both great options for weight loss and improving general fitness, so let’s look at the other main factors to consider for both machines.

Which is best for toning?

The cross trainer has the edge on a treadmill for toning. On a cross trainer, you stand on pedals and grip handles to push yourself forwards or backwards in a circular movement. You can set the resistance level on your machine, which determines how difficult this movement is. 

This resistance is great for toning the quads and glutes and targeting your arms, back, and chest. Plus, on the cross trainer, you can work different muscle groups. Pushing yourself forward works your triceps and chest while pulling the handles works your biceps and lats.

Though the treadmill also tones the glutes and thighs (particularly if you set an incline), the cross trainer provides an upper and lower body workout.

Which is best for joints?

The cross trainer is a better option for people with joint pain. 

Some people find that running on a treadmill or outdoors can cause joint pain, particularly in areas like the knees. On the other hand, the cross trainer is a low-impact cardio option that puts less strain on your joints. So if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury, it may be the better machine for you.

However, we also need weight-bearing exercises to strengthen our bones and muscles. Unlike using a cross trainer, walking, jogging, and running on a treadmill require you to carry your body weight – and doing so will strengthen your bones over time.

Should you use a treadmill or cross trainer for weight loss?

The number of calories you burn on the cross trainer compared to a treadmill depends on several factors, including speed, incline level, and weight. 

A Harvard Health study showed that a 155lb person can burn 324 calories on an elliptical machine, while running at ten minutes per mile will burn 360 calories for the same person. Though this may vary on a treadmill, you can generally burn more calories running. 

This could be down to the fact that the momentum of the cross trainer helps your body through the workout. However, supporting your body weight while running requires considerably more effort on a treadmill.

Which is best for beginners?

The treadmill emulates going for a walk or running outside, so it’s very intuitive. Some people may find the cross trainer more challenging at first, but it’s a very user-friendly machine that doesn’t take much getting used to. 

The treadmill is also versatile; you can go at your own pace and set the incline to whatever suits you. Some days you might want to walk on a high gradient; other days, you might want to do a HIIT workout or a run.

woman using a cross trainer machine

Cross trainer vs treadmill at a glance

Cross trainer pros

  • Great for toning upper and lower body
  • Targets different muscle groups
  • Easy on the joints
  • A good option for injury recovery

Cross trainer cons

  • Slightly harder to use at first
  • Not a bone-strengthing, weight-bearing exercise
  • Not as versatile 

Treadmill pros

  • Strengthens leg muscles
  • Offers versatile workout options
  • Burns calories quickly

Treadmill cons

  • Works fewer muscles
  • Doesn’t target the upper body
  • Can cause injury and joint pain

The verdict

There are many factors to consider when choosing between a cross trainer or treadmill. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference, physical health and what you’re looking for from your workout.

If you’re looking for a cardio machine that offers toning benefits, too, the cross trainer is your best option. Similarly, if you’re someone who suffers from joint pain or recovering from an injury, the low-impact nature of the cross trainer might be preferable. 

On the other hand, the treadmill is your best option if you’re looking for versatility and lots of control. You can choose to walk, jog or run and change your pace and gradient whenever you like. A session on the treadmill also has the upper hand when it comes to burning calories.

Your best bet? Include both in your gym routine for a well-rounded workout that gets the benefits of both.

Related articles

Treadmill Benefits: The Rundown

Elliptical Machine Workout Benefits

Home Gym Essentials For 2022

Comments are closed here.