Cross Trainer vs. Treadmill for Burning Calories: Which One Should You Be Using?

Finding the best workout plan to burn calories tends to be the highest fitness goal. But with the busy lifestyles we lead and the limited amount of time we have to actually get it done, people want – and need to – get the results fast in order to maintain a healthy level of enthusiasm. And the right machine plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals as quick as possible.

You walk into the fitness club or the store for your next home gym purchase and you see the usual assortment of cardio equipment. Which exercise machine do you pick to burn calories in the shortest amount of time? Cardio machines are perfect for giving you the ultimate workout to shred some kilos without leaving the comfort of your home. Two of the best examples of these machines, the treadmill and the elliptical cross trainer, are subjects of an ongoing debate to determine which will give you the most effective cardio workout. Here’s a few tips to find out what one you should be using:

1. Cranking Up the Cross Trainer

Elliptical cross trainers have boomed in popularity because they are highly variable in their workout opportunities and burn a decent amount of calories. Perfect for fitness enthusiasts at any level, they decrease the impact on your bones and joints by engaging more on your muscle groups making them an ideal machine option for people with previous or ongoing injuries.

Man and woman with elliptical cross trainer at gym

It’s this comfort that makes the cross trainer such a versatile and valued exercise machine. They have more workout options than most other machines, building on strength as well as cardio. For the best cardio workout you’ll want the machine to be on high resistance. This is more important that working out at a fast pace when it comes to cross trainers and burning calories.

If a cross trainer is more suited to your fitness goals and health needs, opt for one with handles. This allows you to pump your arms as you move which is highly advised to do. By adding this movement to your workout, your upper body muscles will be engaged and this will help burn more calories.

2. Tackling the Treadmill

Ideal for extreme cardio lovers and those that thrive off running, treadmills have the potential to burn a lot of body fat. Running (or jogging) involves a good full-body workout and if you choose a speed setting that challenges you, it’s one of the best ways to burn a significant amount of calories.

Treadmills offer both low and high impact cardio workouts from slow walks at a controlled pace to runs and sprints and full potential. These machines allow you to set your desired speed and incline and because you’re forced to keep up with the moving belt, treadmills are slightly better for burning calories. This is due to the machine holding you at an intensified level. To burn the most amount of calories in the shortest time frame you’ll want to maintain an incline grade of at least 1-2%.

People running on treadmills

3. Essential Considerations

The problem with cardio workouts is it doesn’t take long for your body to become immune to the workout. As you get comfortable in your fitness plan, you’ll burn less calories because the resistance has diminished. This is why, regardless of what exercise machine you choose, it’s essential your cardio workouts are mixed up to continually challenge your body and keep burning more calories.

Other factors that can impact your ability to shred kilos on either exercise machines include your level of cardio fitness, the weight you’re sitting on now, how intense the workout is and how long you’re working out for. Once your body is at ease with the cardio workout; change the dynamics, speed and intensity of what you’re doing – the higher the resistance the more effective it’ll be.

4. Crunching Calories

The primary reason why many choose the cross trainer over the treadmill is because they don’t enjoy running – whether it’s because of injuries or just the fact that jogging and running isn’t their thing. But if you crave variety and strength building too, then make sure you focus on maintaining a moderate to high intensity. This way the cross trainer can still provide an excellent calorie burning workout (around 600-800 calories per hour). Choose the right settings for your body type and use intervals. Because the cross trainer is one of the easiest machines to just ‘tune out’ on, make sure you focus on your workout and avoid hanging onto the support bars as this won’t help in crunching calories at all!

On average, the treadmill will burn 600-1200 calories per hour between jogging, walking uphill, sprinting and running. To effectively burn calories quickly keep interchanging; start with a slow warm up for 2-3 minutes and break into a run for 3-6 minutes, sprint for 6-7 minutes, run for 7-10, sprint for 10 etc. Ideally you want to commit to a 20-30 minute workout at least. Keep workouts intense and build bone density and shred calories by elevating the incline on the treadmill.

Despite the cross trainer ticking a variety of fitness boxes, there’s still greater weight loss benefits with a treadmill. Mixing between the two exercise machines at the gym though can get all muscle groups moving and keep your cardio workouts spontaneous and intense. Invest in a heart rate monitor and maintain a solid awareness of your intensity levels to ensure you’re burning the most amount of calories – regardless of the machine you choose.

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Author Bio

Jayde Ferguson writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.