Weight loss methods come in all shapes and sizes: diets, exercises, big changes, and little changes. What works for one person may not yield weight loss in another. If you’re trying to lose weight (or have been trying and haven’t seen results), then you may not be exercising for weight loss in a way that fits best with you. In this article, we will discuss how to determine the best weight loss method for you, specifically when looking at weight loss on ellipticals vs. treadmills.

Once we discuss how treadmill and elliptical training differs (and who benefits most), we will also lay out several of the best ellipticals and treadmills to consider for weight loss. With the Fitnessator’s top picks in ellipticals and treadmills, you will be able to better determine which specific product will fit your needs and yield the most weight loss based on your personal characteristics. Also, check out our chart below that details the research behind which characteristics benefit most from these machines!

Reading the full reviews does take a bit of time. If you’d rather get a quick overview of the products available, scroll ahead to “The Rundown” section where you’ll find a quick side-by-side comparison of specific treadmills vs. ellipticals to consider. Also, be sure to see our tips to getting a better cardio workout for weight loss. If you follow the tips provided, it will help you burn more calories and lose more weight.

Treadmills vs. Ellipticals: On Which Can You Lose More Weight?

Women Using Treadmill and Elliptical Machine For FitnessAbove all, the machine that will make you lose the most weight is the one on which you will burn the most calories. You burn the most calories when you consistently exercise day after day, week after week. In order to exercise consistently, then you need to make time and continue to motivate yourself to exercise. See the chain of events here?

There are various factors that can prevent or enhance our calorie burn on various cardio machines. Check out the chart below to determine if a treadmill vs. elliptical is right for you. With this information, you can make an educated guess when purchasing your new treadmill or elliptical.

When reading through the characteristics (leftmost column), consider if this is something that describes your situation. On the right, you can read and link out to the supporting research.


Elliptical Machine

Treadmill Machine

Notes and Supporting Research

You have joint issues and/or injuries.

XWhile exercise in general can help with restoring function and strength after an injury, according to the research, ellipticals provide a low impact exercise and reduced load on the knees (1). Thus, ellipticals can be better for those with compromised joints (i.e. knees, hips, ankles) and legs who need reduced weight-bearing exercise.

You want more intense workouts.

XAccording to one study, treadmills require greater oxygen consumption, resulting in a more intense cardio workout. Increased oxygen consumption will make you breathe harder and get the heart pumping like crazy!

You want muscle toning in your lower body.

XWhen compared to treadmills, walking, or jogging, ellipticals may be able to stimulate leg muscle activation and strengthening more so than other methods (2). Ellipticals tend to have varying degrees of resistance and programs that target different areas of the body. Some ellipticals can even provide upper body workouts!

You want a workout that simulates conventional running.

XFor those who want to mimic running outside, then the treadmill may be more beneficial. Use a treadmill to help you train for outside running or when the weather is suboptimal for running outside.


Aside from these factors, you also may have a preference as to which type of cardio machine you enjoy. Motivation is another key factor to meeting your fitness goals. For instance, if you are looking for fun features on a cardio machine to keep you motivated during the workout session, then consider choosing a machine that offers connectivity and other cool features. On the other hand, if you are not tech savvy, choose a machine that focuses on giving you a great workout.

So, such personal preferences can be the difference between sticking with your weight loss program or not. According to the research, such factors may affect how likely you are to stick to a program and follow through with exercise (3). For any weight loss program, try to be honest with yourself and identify barriers to exercise. Then, work on fixing these barriers so that you actually start losing weight. Certain barriers include:

  • Lack of scheduling your workouts (or not following your calendar)
  • Finances
  • Inability to travel to your workout space (So, having a home fitness space is really beneficial!)
  • Choosing other activities over working out, especially activities that are food related (Have you ever skipped a workout because your friend invited you out to dinner and drinks?)

Fitnessator’s Picks in the Best Ellipticals vs. Treadmills for Weight Loss

Now that you have more information on how to determine if a treadmill vs. elliptical is a better fit for your needs, check out the Fitnessator’s top picks in cardio machines to choose for your weight loss journey. Also, don’t forget to see a side-by-side comparison of all of these products in “The Rundown” section.

Fitnessator’s Top Pick 

Bowflex Treadclimber – The Best Elliptical & Treadmill Combo Machine

Bowflex Treadclimber Elliptical and Treadmill Why We Love It:

We love this machine because if you’re still unsure whether to choose an elliptical machine vs. a treadmill, then you don’t have to choose with this one! The Bowflex Treadclimber is the best of both worlds. With separate revolving tracks, you can get the feel of a treadmill while getting the low impact movements of an elliptical.

The Research:

Overall, even for the most intense therapy and rehabilitation, such as restoring functionality in those with spinal cord injuries, ellipticals and treadmills offer similar results. With a machine such as the Bowflex Treadclimber, combination machines can give you a well-rounded workout. 

  • Uses a combination of treadmill tracks, stepper elevation changes, and elliptical motions
  • Speed ranges from 0.5 to 4.5 miles per hour
  • Includes a Bowflex training app, Bluetooth connectivity and ability to transmit data to several weight loss and food tracking apps
  • Bowflex Website Price: $2999
Things to Consider:

Aside from the hefty price tag, this Treadclimber is not meant for fast-paced running. With so many moving parts, the machine has a max speed of 4.5 miles per hour for safety. While you will get a good calorie burn, those who want speed will not find it on this machine. 

Customer Reviews:

According to customers who have had conventional treadmills in their homes before, the Bowflex Treadclimber takes up a much smaller footprint than other models. So, this can be great for smaller home fitness spaces.

Per customer reviews, customers complain that this machine is really loud and clunky during use. So people who live in apartment buildings might want to consider finding a quieter machine. Also, some people state that the treadmill belts begin to wear down, especially on the edges after a few months of use.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you want a relatively slow-paced workout that still allows you to burn calories, tone your legs, and offers low impact strides, then this Treadclimber machine is definitely the best option to choose. This machine is the best of both worlds (and great for people who can’t decide between a treadmill vs. an elliptical).

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Tomasar Elliptical – The Best Folding Elliptical Machine

Tomasar Elliptical Folding Elliptical MachineWhy We Love It:

Getting in a good cardio workout for weight loss does not have to be expensive, and the machine does not have to have a permanent spot in your home. If you’re looking for a compact elliptical that you can fold away, then choose the Tomasar elliptical machine. Also, it’s significantly cheaper than the Fitnessator Top Pick. 

  • Includes 8 resistance levels to help you improve and increase the intensity
  • Max user weight capacity is 250 lbs
  • Monitors heart rate and workout session progress, however, it does not hook up to any apps
  • Sears Website Price: $149.99
Things to Consider:

Even though this product is foldable and can be stowed away, it weighs nearly 80 lbs, which may be hard for some people to move every time they use the machine and want to store it. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that if it takes effort to fold away and roll back out, will that deter you from using it more often? 

Customer Reviews:

Customers appreciate that this machine is smooth and quiet during use. Also, compared to the other products on the list, this elliptical has a quick and easy assembly (for most people).

If you are taller than average, then reconsider if this product is the best for you. According to one customer who is 5’4”, which is more of an average size, their knees hit the machine occasionally during use. So, anyone who is taller may find that their knees knock into the machine more often.   

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Since this machine offers the classic low impact elliptical workout, this particular machine is a great choice for those with limited space who need equipment that can fold away for more space. Also, if you are on a budget, then this is a cheaper elliptical than the Fitnessator Top Pick.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

Xterra Foldable Treadmill – The Best Folding Treadmill

Xterra Foldable Treadmill Folding TreadmillWhy We Love It:

Do you think a classic treadmill is a better fit for you? Then look no further than the Xterra treadmill! With this machine, you get a classic treadmill workout with up to 10 miles per hour band speed. Also, it can be folded almost completely flat! So, talk about a space saver!

  • Speed ranges from 0.5 to 10 miles per hour
  • Contains 3 separate incline settings for diversifying the workout
  • Max weight capacity is 250 lbs
  • Shop Fitness Website Price: $319
Things to Consider:

As with the folding elliptical, this treadmill can fold up as well. If you have a small workout space, then rest assured that this machine folds almost completely flat. However, this machine weighs over 100 lbs, so folding and moving this treadmill may not be suitable for everyone.

Customer Reviews:

For those who don’t consider themselves to be handy, you can rest easy because assembly of this treadmill is pretty easy, according to customers. Along with a helpful manual and pictures for set up, customers can set it up and get jogging within a couple of hours.

According to some customers, they believe that there are some inaccuracies in the heart rate monitor that is built into the machine. Also, even though most treadmills have a safety pin that is pulled if you fall off the machine, it tends to fall out frequently, resulting in loss of workout data for that session.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you have a need for speed, then the Xterra treadmill can go up to 10 miles per hour! Also, it is relatively quiet during use. So, if you live in an apartment with roommates or have a family, then you can work out on this machine without bothering other people!

The Best Treadmill for Under $300 

SereneLife Treadmill

SereneLife Treadmill For FitnessWhy We Love It:

The price is the pudding on this machine! Also, with a max user weight capacity of 265 lbs, most people will be able to use this treadmill.

  • Max user weight capacity is 265 lbs
  • Speed ranges from 0.6 to 6 miles per hour
  • Constructed with a longer platform to allow for an extended long stride
  • Walmart Website Price: $299.99
Things to Consider:

Unfortunately, while this machine has a built in 5-cm incline, the runner has no ability to change the incline on the machine. If you want to burn more calories, then instead of increasing the incline you would have to run faster on the machine.

Customer Reviews:

According to customers who just like to walk and/or do a slow jog on this treadmill, the SereneLife treadmill is plenty fast for their needs. Also, if you need a machine that can fold away, this is yet another model on this list that can do so.

If you’re on the heavier side, then reconsider using this small, narrow machine. According to one customer who claims to have wide hips, this machine is too thin for her to use. Also, set up is quite difficult due to inadequate instructions upon delivery.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Since you can’t adjust the incline for greater intensity, those who can reach 6 miles per hour would enjoy this machine. However, keep in mind that this machine does not offer the fastest speeds on the list of the best ellipticals vs. treadmills. Also, this is a very narrow machine. Again, be sure to really take a look at the dimensions and compare that with the users who will be working out in the treadmill.

The Best Elliptical for Under $150

Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Bike

Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical BikeWhy We Love It:

If you’re on a budget, then choose this cheap elliptical for your home fitness space. While low in price, you can still get a workout that grows with your improving fitness and burn calories for weight loss. As you will see, this elliptical is small, lightweight, and budget-friendly!

  • Includes 8 resistance levels
  • Small stride length so that the machine can be used in small spaces
  • Max weight capacity is 220 lbs
  • Walmart Website Price: $141.99
Things to Consider:

Compared to the other models, a max user weight capacity of 220 lbs is somewhat low. Many people, especially those interested in weight loss, may actually weigh more than what is recommended for this machine.

Customer Reviews:

For those who want easy assembly, rest assured that this machine is easy and quick to assemble, even by yourself. Also, many people have had the elliptical for several years without issue.

Surprisingly, this machine may not fit with people over 5’3”, which is a below average height. Similarly to the Fitnessator Runner Up, some customers complain that their knees knock against the frame during use. As with any exercise equipment, be sure to read up on the product dimensions and/or ask questions pertaining to recommended user height and weight.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re on a budget or want to invest in other fitness equipment besides your elliptical or treadmill, then consider this cheap elliptical. You can still get a good weight loss cardio workout in while having money for other equipment like a cable machine or home gym.

3 Tips for a Better Cardio Workout for Weight Loss

Cardio High Intensity Workout For Weight LossAs you can see, you can get a great calorie burn on both an elliptical machine and treadmill. However, there are plenty of ways to burn even more calories and lose even more weight. Check out our tips to burn more calories during your next cardio workout on your new treadmill or elliptical:

Tip #1: Increase the resistance and/or incline

If you exercise on an elliptical machine, then make sure to purchase one that has several resistance levels. As you may imagine, the higher the resistance, the harder your body has to work and thus, the more calories you burn. If you exercise on a treadmill, then you have to increase the incline of the machine to increase the calorie burn. Thus, increasing the incline activates more leg muscles and makes the heart work harder.

Tip #2: Add hand weights for resistance

Even though this can be a good tip to follow for increasing the calorie burn, do proceed with caution. So, compared to using hand weights or light dumbbells on an elliptical, using hand weights on a treadmill may make more logistical sense because you have more freedom to move your arms on a treadmill.

Above all, make sure you have good stability on your cardio machine before trying light weight exercise during your cardio session. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can also try items around the house like cans of soup, water bottles, or milk jugs filled with water for a good calorie burn.

Tip #3: Use a weight vest

Weight vests are fabric vests that hold various weights to pack on pounds for resistance. If you want to lose more weight, then consider purchasing a weight vest that you use while exercising on your machine. In fact, in one 2018 study, obese participants who wore a weight vest every day demonstrated safe weight loss. So, wearing a weight vest during exercise and daily activity may help you burn extra calories during the day.

By using the tips suggested above, you can increase your daily calorie burn, therefore losing more weight (and at a quicker rate). Above all, along with a well-rounded diet and exercise regimen for weight loss, you can be on your way to achieving your goal weight!

The Rundown on Ellipticals vs. Treadmills for Weight Loss

Now that you’ve seen detailed reviews of Fitnessator’s top picks in elliptical machines vs. treadmills, take a look at this breakdown which will help you compare them all:


Less than $1000

Elliptical features

Treadmill features

Allows for resistance (for increased calorie burn)

Bowflex Treadclimber (Top Pick)XXX
Tomasar Elliptical (Runner Up)XXX
Xterra Foldable Treadmill (Honorable Mention)XXX
SereneLife TreadmillXX
Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical XXX


Before You Purchase

Now that you’ve read through this article, you have a wealth of information that will help you determine if you personally will lose more weight on a treadmill vs. an elliptical. Furthermore, you have several of the best ellipticals and treadmills to consider for losing weight. Aside from the product reviews and science-backed research, you can also refer back to this article for ways to increase your calorie burn to lose more weight on your cardio machine.

Regardless of which elliptical or treadmill you choose, a good quality weight loss routine needs exercise consistency and a good diet for weight loss. Above all, make sure to approach weight loss with a well-rounded, comprehensive plan. Also, setting goals and scheduling your workout time will help to hold yourself accountable.

Based on your experience, would you rather exercise on a treadmill or an elliptical? Your experiences and opinions may help someone else decide if they need an elliptical machine vs. a treadmill, so share in the comments below!