There are two machines at the gym that fill up fast during the 6 a.m. rush. Yes, the good ole' treadmill and the cross trainer. We know they're two of the most popular picks for a quick cardio-based workout, but does one trump the other if you're looking to burn as many calories as possible in your 30-minute sesh?
Maybe! Equinox Tier 3 plus trainer Rachel Mariotti says the short answer is the treadmill. But, of course, this truly depends on what you're doing on each machine and if the activities are even comparable.
"With jogging or running, you will most likely burn more calories [on the treadmill] than you would wheeling on the cross trainer, roughly 100 calories per 10 minutes," says Mariotti. "With the cross trainer, you have more of an opportunity to rely on the momentum of the pedals, so it’s hard to gage how many calories you’re actually burning, even if it says 100 calories at the 10 minute mark. You are most likely burning 20-30 percent less."
That's not to say the cross trainer can't be more effective in burning calories than the treadmill. It all goes back to what type of workout you're sweating through.
"If you have the highest resistance on the elliptical and you go for 10 minutes, this will absolutely burn more calories than walking on the treadmill for the same amount of time—maybe even more than slow jogging," explains Mariotti. "If you are jogging at 60 percent intensity while sprinkling in some runs, sprints, and inclines, you will, hands down, have a higher calorie burn. And there’s no way to cheat your way out of that."
Each machine also has its own pros and cons for your body, though. The elliptical, Mariotti says, reduces impact while still giving you resistance for your hips, quads, glutes, and arms. "No one is still quite sure if it is natural movement, though. So keep that in mind," she adds.
For the treadmill, our pros says the biggest plus is that it's a natural movement and it puts impact on your joints no matter your pace. However, overdoing can put too much impact on your joints, which Mariotti explains can set you up for an injury. Using the treadmill also reportedly gives you a better shot at burning fat. "Keep in mind, a slow jog or walk indeed has a higher fat burning ratio vs, sugars, but you’re burning at a very slow rate. Interval training is the way to go. Short incline runs, incline sprints, low incline runs, and sprints paired with recoveries will lead to a higher fat burn than a constant, medium speed."
So if burning cals is your goal and you don't have any major injuries, why not rely on your Drake Spotify playlist and snag a treadmill while you can? You know they'll all be booked come 6:15.