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Treadmill vs. Elliptical -- Whos In The Lead?

See ya later stationary bikes and row, row, rowing to no where!

Elliptical trainers have over taken stationary bikes in popularity with the gym-going population and have long since left rowing machines back at the dock. This is evidenced by gym operators reducing the number of stationary bikes and rowing machines in their facilities to make way for newer varieties of elliptical trainers.

During their day (1980s) stationary bikes and rowing machines along with steppers and climbing machines were about the only options in cardio equipment. You could get a good cardio workout if you stayed on these machines for at least 30 minutes. Though sitting on a stationary bike for that long can leave you with a sore butt. Studies have shown that prolonged use of stationary bikes can lead to impotence in some men. Sure doesn't sound like something I'd want to chance!

Stationary bikes still have their use - hop on one for about 5-10 minutes for a quick warm up for your quads and knees before launching into a heavy leg workout consisting of squats and leg presses. Given the choices in cardio equipment these days, whenever I see someone at a health club slogging away at the lone rowing machine I think -- "must be a new member."

David vs. Goliath

Treadmills have been around longer than elliptical trainers and remain hugely popular. Treadmills must have something going for them. The great thing about treadmills is they simulate the experience of both jogging and walking -- both great cardio exercises. With treadmills you can bring your jogging or walking indoors -- no need (or excuse) to miss a workout because it's raining, snowing, too hot, too cold, etc.

Treadmills have programs that allow you to add variety and challenge to your workouts. You can also increase the incline on many treadmills to further increase the intensity of your treadmill workout and also target other muscles in your lower body more directly. Treadmills have the additional advantage over jogging and running that the belt provides more cushioning to your joints than pounding away on asphalt or concrete. However, treadmills still are much more of an impact exercise than that offered by elliptical trainers.

There's just something more graceful and less stressful about exercising on a quality-made elliptical trainer than a treadmill. And let's face it, many people will agree that working out on an elliptical trainer is somehow less boring than pounding away on a treadmill. Maybe it's not a coincidence that another expression for the "rat race" is "going around on a treadmill!"

Rich Rojas

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