Without a doubt, the elliptical trainer, Stairmaster and treadmill are all fantastic pieces of cardiovascular training equipment. Every single gym has at least one of each in order to cater to many people’s preferences. Every single piece of equipment has its own benefits and drawbacks. There are definitely some people who would be better off if they used the elliptical trainer rather than the treadmill. Meanwhile, some people would get more benefits from using an elliptical trainer than they would if they used the Stairmaster. At the same time, there are some people who love the Stairmaster for a variety of different reasons.
There is no definite answer when it comes to which piece of equipment is the best because everyone has different goals, training needs and personal preferences. However, we can look at the benefits and drawbacks of each as well as which muscle groups can be targeted. Let’s look at each piece of equipment in more detail.
1. The Elliptical Trainer
The small and compact elliptical trainer, which is also called a cross trainer, can be very beneficial because it allows people to perform a wide range of cardiovascular activities, from running to walking to stair climbing. Not only does the elliptical trainer work the lower body, but it also allows the user to work their upper body. Using the elliptical trainer allows you to work many muscle groups at once, including: the glutes, hamstrings, quads, triceps, pectorals, back, biceps, as well as core. Last but not least, your heart muscle is definitely guaranteed a workout. You can adjust the incline and the resistance in order to change the intensity of the workout.
The best thing about using an elliptical trainer is that it’s easy on the joints, especially the knees, due to the fluid motion with which the machine operates. It takes all the pressure off the knees, hips and ankles and therefore would be a great way for runners to cross train. It’s much safer than the treadmill and the Stairmaster for people who have had knee injuries because of that reduced impact on the joints.
Depending on your resistance setting, stride length and incline, you can recruit different muscle groups and modify the intensity of your workout to suit your needs. The one drawback to adjusting the stride length is that you may risk injury if your stride length is too long for your legs. Therefore, that is one setting that you will want to be cautious with. The higher your incline and resistance is set, the more likely your elliptical workout will feel like a strength workout in addition to being good for your heart. Because using the elliptical recruits many muscle groups, you will be able to burn a lot of calories, which in turn is good for weight loss. Due to the elliptical being easier on the joints, some people may be able to use it more often and for longer periods of time, which will also enable people to see good results. These results can apply to both weight loss and overall fitness.
In general, you can burn upwards of 300 calories in 30 minutes when you use an elliptical trainer. However, your weight and workout intensity are the key factors in determining your calories burned.
2. The Stairmaster
Just like the name suggests, Stairmasters simulate climbing stairs. Stair climbing is a great way to improve your overall strength and get in better shape. Stairmasters primarily focus on muscles of the lower body, especially your glutes and quads. Not only that, but using a stair climber can also improve your hamstring and calf muscle strength. Just like the elliptical, this piece of equipment is easier on the joints than running on the treadmill would be. However, if you want a solid upper body workout too, then this is definitely not the piece of equipment for you.
Stairmasters are good for any fitness level because the speed and resistance settings are adjustable. Depending on your weight and settings, you can burn up to 250 calories in 30 minutes. Not only that, but you will also get a cardiovascular workout when you use a Stairmaster, especially when you go faster. It increases your heart rate which allows you to burn more calories. The more calories you burn, the more weight you are likely to lose.
You will improve your cardiovascular endurance and leg muscle stamina, which will allow you to do more intense workouts as you continue to progress. The endurance and stamina that you will develop when you use the Stairmaster will translate into better performance during other workouts.
3. The Treadmill
Using the treadmill most closely resembles running or jogging. However, you can also use it for walking. Treadmills are great for runners and joggers who would like to get their workout done without having to deal with traffic and the elements. However, in order for your treadmill workout to be equivalent to your outdoor exercise session, you need to have your treadmill incline set to 2. When you set your treadmill incline to 2, you are able to account for the wind resistance and uneven ground you deal with when you are working out outside.
A drawback to using the treadmill is that there is a higher chance that you could trip and fall if you are not used to the moving belt. Therefore, you must make sure that you stay in the center of the belt as much as possible to avoid falling. Another drawback is that since treadmills simulate running, there is a chance that you may get a running related injury, such as Achilles tendonitis or patellofemoral syndrome. If you have knee or back injuries, it’s best not to do treadmill workouts. However, if you have no injuries and are looking for a hard workout, then the treadmill is definitely a great choice.
When you do a workout on the treadmill, you use your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, shins and calves. The more you increase the speed and incline on the treadmill, the more intense your workout will be, which will help you burn more calories. Over time you will find that you will be able to go faster and faster. On average, you can burn anywhere between 216 and 708 calories in 30 minutes depending on your speed and incline.
As we can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to using all three of the aforementioned pieces of exercise equipment. The best way to find out which is best for you is to try them out, provided that you are also considerate of your injuries and pre-existing health conditions.