Pros and Cons of the Elliptical – Is It The Right Cardio Machine For You?

We discussed in our previous post that making your cardio equipment purchase can be a challenging one with all the different options you are faced with when it comes to deciding which machine to go with. Treadmills, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes are all going to be excellent choices no matter which you decide, yet one may be a better option for you than another as they are going to provide different workouts.

We went over the Pros and Cons of Treadmills to help you decide if the treadmill was indeed the right purchase for you. Yet before you pull the trigger and make your purchase it is always good to check out all of your options and weight your pros and cons of each machine first to know which cardio machine is going to be right for you!

Since we went with treadmills last time, we’ll go with the next popular elliptical trainers. Here are the Pros and Cons of Elliptical Trainers to help you in your search:


    Total-Body Elliptical Workout
  • Many prefer the elliptical trainer because it offers more of a full-body workout than treadmills do with the combined moveable handles and foot pedals.
  • According to this Calories Burned Calculator you will burn more calories on the elliptical trainer for 30mins than if you were to run at a speed of 6mph on your treadmill or cycle on an exercise bike at 12-14mph for the same amount of time.
  • While treadmills offer higher impact workout with stress on your ankles, knees, hips and back, elliptical trainers are very low impact, which are ideal for those with lower body injuries or anyone looking to get a good workout without risking any strain on your joints. This allows you to work out more often with less effort and stress on your joints, resulting in decreased soreness and pain.
  • According to Pros and Cons Of Elliptical Trainers from “most elliptical machines can be pedaled in reverse to work different muscles.” This also not only takes the boredom out of workout, but challenges your muscles more than if you were to go forward for the whole workout.
  • Many elliptical trainers come equipped with adjustable resistance levels that add resistance in each stride helping you to burn more calories, increase the intensity and improve your muscle tone. For example the ProForm 910 E Elliptical Machine comes equipped with 22 different digital resistance levels built right in that mix up your workout and increases your intensity with the simple push of a button.
  • Along with resistance levels, most elliptical trainers also have adjustable stride lengths that allow you to “quickly change your stride to find a better fit or change up your workout for more variety” as stated on the previously mentioned ProForm 910 E Elliptical on These different stride lengths allow you to target different muscles and tone your lower body.


Open Stride on the Elliptical

  • One major drawback to elliptical trainers is the fact they are not specific to regular walking and running patterns. This could be an issue if you run races or play in sports that involve excessive running as training on an elliptical will not allow your body to adapt to the demands that running places on it.
  • According to another article, “building strong bones is pivotal to prevent osteoporosis as you age. This can be done through weight-bearing exercise. Unfortunately, when you work out on an elliptical machine, there is no stress being placed on the bones to make them stronger.”
  • Elliptical trainers may not be as great for beginners as you have to get some momentum to move the handles and pedals which can be difficult for some who do not already possess higher levels of strength. The combination of upper and lower body movements may also be more difficult for beginners.
  • Some feel the elliptical trainer can be uncomfortable due to the width of the foot pedals being too wide for some users’ body frames and may bother their hips, knees or ankles. FitSugar’s article Pros and Cons of the Elliptical states that “since they’re a one-size-fits-all kind of machine, someone who’s got a naturally shorter stride may end up hyper-extending their knees, which could lead to injury.”


There are many pros and cons that come with an elliptical trainer it all just depends on whether or not the pros outweigh the cons to fit your needs! While we did mention that you will burn more calories on the elliptical trainer than other cardio machines, don’t let that be your only deciding factor. It still all depends on how hard you are working out and at what intensity.

According to Treadmill Sensei in Comparing Treadmills and Elliptical Trainers, “if you just want a virtually no-impact exercise that you don’t care if it emulates actual running, then the elliptical might be the choice for you. Inversely, if you train for races quite frequently and need the authentic running experience then the treadmill is a better fit for you.”

Yet these are not your only two options! If you are still unsure which cardio workout is going to fit your needs, be sure to come back next time for the pros and cons of exercise bikes!