Building your own home gym: Treadmill or Elliptical

This is the fourth in a seven-part series on building your own home gym. Today, we take a look at which aerobic machine is better for you: Treadmill or Elliptical.

Either a treadmill or elliptical would be a great addition to your home gym, but it’s important to fully understand what your fitness needs are. And try out several models before making a purchase.
Pick the style of workout equipment that you’re most likely to use.
Treadmills and Ellipticals both offer outstanding benefits for any home gym.
Depending on what your needs are for space, finances and training goals, there are many options to choose between them.

Treadmills have been around a lot longer than elliptical trainers and are more widely recognized.
But how are they different?
The biggest difference between the two is that you’re not physically connected to a treadmill. There is no pre-set motion to follow and one size fits all.
Anyone from a rehab patient who walks at an extremely slow pace to a marathon runner putting in a grueling indoor workout can use a treadmill.
Right behind treadmills as the top selling fitness equipment are ellipticals.
Ellipticals are excellent for a cardiovascular workout that will not put as much impact on a person’s joints. Since your feet are placed on a pad, you are burning calories but not getting as much shock to the knees or hips as
with a treadmill.
Another factor to consider is perceived exertion, or how hard a person thinks they’re working. Since we can all practically walk, or maybe even run with our eyes closed, it might not seem like we’re working as hard as when we’re following a less natural movement pattern on the elliptical. The truth is you’re working hard on both of them if you’re putting out effort.
If you’re trying to get more motivated, then this aspect of the elliptical might be a good selling point for you. The elliptical can be set for forward or backward movements. Elliptical handles allow a person to get more of an upper body workout than with treadmills.
Both pieces of equipment can usually change the plane you’re moving on and offer different workouts, such as fat burning, aerobic or strength training.
For hard-core walkers, joggers or runners, it’s hard to beat the treadmill.
However, for older people, those with joint issues or maybe just people looking for a new twist on their workouts, then an elliptical might be the best choice. Octane and Life Fitness are two leading brands for ellipticals. Both pieces of equipment are excellent ways to burn calories and improve your aerobic health.
If space is a concern, AFG and Landice both offer folding and non-folding treadmills.
Treadmills will usually start out at around $1,200 and can be priced upwards of $5,000 for the elite models.
AFG and LifeCore are among the top makers of ellipticals, which are usually slightly less expensive than treadmills and take up less space.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at