You can create a more well-rounded routine with more than one machine.
Using both a treadmill and an elliptical machine in your workout routine can give you some benefits over using one machine alone. Some people might decide that one machine is more beneficial to them than the other for specific needs or goals, but in general, using both machines can give you a more well-rounded routine. This is because each machine gives specific benefits over the other, so using both combines those benefits.
The elliptical machine and treadmill will provide similar objectives in some categories. In a June 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the participants had very similar oxygen consumption and energy expenditure on both the elliptical and treadmill. So for these goals, the machines are interchangeable. But the participants had higher heart rates on the elliptical machine.
Combining the Different Benefits
In some ways, one machine will give you benefits over the other. Combining the two machines will give you both sets of benefits. For instance, the elliptical machine provides a low-impact workout that is gentle on your joints and your back. You can usually pedal backward to target your calves and hamstrings, which are not used as much when you go forward on the elliptical or treadmill. Also, many elliptical machines include moving handles to add an upper body workout. On the other hand, treadmills are beneficial if you are training for a running race. They also help your body move in a more natural way than it does with the elliptical machine.
Using both an elliptical machine and a treadmill provides cross-training so you can get a more balanced workout. A December 2009 study in the journal Physical Therapy shows that the machines work out the body in different ways. In the study, the elliptical machine provided more flexion, which is a bending movement, in the trunk, knees, pelvis, hips and thighs than walking. However, walking gives more flexion in the ankle than the elliptical machine does. Cross-training can also prevent you from overworking certain areas of your body.
Instead of using two separate machines, you can use an elliptical and treadmill combined into one machine such as the Bowflex Treadclimber that combines those two movements with a stair stepper. It has separate moving pedals like an elliptical with belts on each one like a treadmill, plus it gives a climbing movement, giving the workout and benefits of all three machines at the same time.