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Treadmill vs. Crosstrainers, Pros & Cons

Treadmill vs. Crosstrainers, Pros & Cons

, by Joris Lans, 5 min reading time

You're looking for a nice fitness equipment to train at home but you're not sure which fitness equipment best fits you. No worries. We've made an overview to compare treadmills' to crosstrainers' pros and cons so you can make the best choice. We compare treadmills to crosstrainers because they share some resemblance in the way you can train with them. Of course there's also other fitness equipment for a cardio workout. Please visit our other pages for information on hometrainers and recumbent bikes.

Treadmills and crosstrainers are different types of fitness equipments. Which of these is best for you depends on how you're going to use your fitness equipment and on your training goals. A treadmill can be used to walk, jog or run and train your calves, thigh muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, shoulder muscle and glutes. Training with a crosstrainer makes you use no less than 80% of your muscles. During training you use your lower legs, calfs, thigh muscles, glutes, arms, shoulders back and abdominal muscles. Some crosstrainers offer you the possiblity to walk reverse which is really good for the glutes.



They way you train with a treadmill and a crosstrainer differs. You walk, jog or run on a treadmill the same way you would do outdoors. If your treadmill has an adjustable angle of inclination you can simulate walking, jogging or running up and down hill. With a crosstrainer your training motion resembles cross-country skiing. Your legs move back and forth on pedals, forwards and/or backwards. A crosstrainer has handles so you can move your arms back and forth as well simultaneously with your legs on the pedals. It's up to you which type of training you prefer.

Equally important as your preferred type of training are your training goals. Both a treadmill and a crosstrainer are suitable for cardio workouts to train your level of fitness, slim down and train your muscles. An intense workout on a crosstrainer makes you burn about 500 calories per hour easily. Working out on a treadmill makes you burn about 300 t0 400 caloriers per hour. The amount of calories you burn totally depends on the intensity of your training but if you want to improve your level of fitness and want to lose some serious weight you best choose a crosstrainer.

Apart from the fact that you'll burn a lot of calories the crosstrainer also has the advantage over the treadmill that you can train your muscles. Of course training with a crosstrainer isn't as effective as training with a power station but it does a fine job in improving your muscle strength. If you're more of a walking type or you really like running the treadmill is your best bet.

You want to train as intensively as possible as long as it is not too straining to your joints. Especially not when your joints are vulnerable and you're prone to injuries. Exercising with a crosstrainer, same as with hometrainers and recumbent bikes, is less straining to your joints than exercising on a treadmill. With walking, jogging or running on a treadmill your feet get off the running surface entirely causing your feet, ankles and knees having to carry your weight and absorb blows when your feet return to the running surface.

Especially with intensive running your joints have to withstand a heavy load. Most treadmills are equipped with a shock absorption system to somewhat limit the load on your joints. You're also risking losing your balance or stepping off the treadmill which can cause falls and injuries. With exercising on a crosstrainer your feet don't come off the pedals entirely so your feet, ankles and knees don't have to carry your weight or absorb blows from your feet returning to the pedals resulting in a smooth movement which is less straining to your joints.

If you don't mind a heavy load on your joints or if you're an avid walker of runner a treadmill is the best choice for you. If you're joints start to hurt pretty quickly and you're sensitive to injuries you better opt for a crosstrainer. Depending on the model, treadmills, unlike elliptical trainers, require periodic maintenance. It's up to you whether you're up for that.


Treadmill workouts are more dynamic and more challenging than those with a crosstrainer. The movement on a crosstrainer is very smooth but also very repetitive which ultimately can get quite boring. During your treadmill workout you can choose to walk, jog or run and use an incline or decline angle of inclination. This way you can vary with your movements and train more versatile and realistic. Especially at high speeds and with a high incline or decline angle of inclination it's hard to keep your balance which makes your training very demanding on your muscles.

Most crosstrainer have an adjustable resistance level but these are less effective than the angle of inclination on a treadmill.
In general treadmills are slightly shorter in length than crosstrainers so they can easier be placed in small rooms. In addition to being taller in length crosstrainers also need more space due to the rotation of the pedals pushing you up and down while training. Many people have a tendency to `bounce'' on a cross trainer, especially when the rotation of the pedals is at the highest point.

This means you need extra space between the crosstrainer and the ceiling. If you have limited space available, it is best to opt for a treadmill. Treadmills are noisier than crosstrainers because of the motor, the moving running surface and your feet coming off and returning to the running surface. If noise troubles you and you want or need to train in peace because you have roommates to consider, you best go with a crosstrainer.

So when you're about to purchase either a treadmill or a crosstrainer take these pros and cons into consideration to decide which option best fits your needs. Both forms of cardio exercise equipment offer you an effective workout to lose weight, improve your level of fitness and train your muscles. The more you crank up the resistance, incline or decline and speed the more you'll maximize your caloric burn and weight loss potential. Note that fitness equipment is only beneficial and effective if you're actually use it. So pick one you're definitely going to be using and enjoy the results.

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