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Treadmill vs Treadclimber: Which Is More Effective?

Despite these are two cardio machines that look quite similar with slight differences, a treadmill and treadclimber function and affect your lower body muscles differently. With a variety of versatility and operation, you’ll accomplish your fitness goals variously. To decide what is better – treadmill vs treadclimber – consider the major characteristics of each machine and its performance capabilities to meet your expectations and demands.

Treadmill vs treadclimber: a treadmill is more for beginners, while a treadclimber will suit users with some training background. Being a straightforward running machine, there’s nothing to think about how to use it, however, with the second tool, you need to learn how to utilize it properly for maximum benefit.

Treadmill vs Treadclimber: Which Is More Effective

What Is A Treadmill: General Characteristics And Purposes Of Use 

A treadmill is apparently one of the most popular training machines most athletes use for cardio workouts. This equipment provides a great opportunity to stay fit, improve general body condition, maintain excellent physical and mental state, and increase cardiovascular capabilities.

A treadmill is a stationary exercise equipment that can be used for walking, jogging, or running, and is designed for an indoor cardio workout. So, it’s possible to switch between these modes gradually. It features a running surface of different lengths and widths and can have various settings such as adjustable speed and incline levels.

These options make a treadmill suitable for people of any fitness level. There is an immense range of treadmill models on the market: you can find manual, electric, curved, fixed incline, compact foldable, and under-desk treadmills that will meet the needs of users with different preferences.

A running machine can fit both seasoned runners and amateur athletes who strive to improve their health and enhance their running skills and technique, as well as increase their performance metrics to gain their fitness goals.

Using a treadmill will benefit your overall fitness and body condition by bringing the following advantages:

exercising on treadmill

1. Develop Strong Leg Muscles And Improve Body Stabilization

During running, your lower body is working actively. You’ll strengthen your legs dominantly, by working out such muscles as hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Additionally, while you run you engage the core for better body stabilization and coordination.

2. Get A Toned Body 

Running is a helpful way to become fit and burn calories. You can lose weight by getting lean muscle mass due to accelerating metabolism processes. Alongside healthy nutrition and a regular training regime lead to superb results in a shorter time.

3. Lower Impact

Compared with outdoor running, running on a treadmill has a reduced impact on the knees and joints due to specific features such as shock absorption, cushioning, or incline adjustments. These specs aim to mitigate high-impact running at high speeds or with high-incline options, unlike when running different surfaces in real life.

4. Improve Bone Density

If you don’t push yourself too hard while running, any high-impact activity can improve bone density and build up leg muscles significantly. With regular running, you’ll be able to increase the hip bones’ sturdiness since they’ll respond to such stress better. Additionally, this activity is useful to prevent osteoporosis.

5. Enhance Cardiovascular Health 

Running is cardio training that pumps up your heart rate during the running session. By constantly exercising, your organism will become accustomed to such cardio loads and you’ll be able to manage your pulse zones considering different speed and incline modes.

Running is a sports activity that can fit almost everyone: it’s useful to improve the current performance, facilitate running progress, maintain healthy condition, or back to the training regime after injury, or do mild running during rehabilitation.

Although, there’re some exceptions: people who recover from a recent illness, surgery interventions, have chronic health problems, i.e., heart problems like high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, or have severe knee and joint problems, should restrain from running for some time.

All in all, with a regular training plan, persistent practice, and dedication, you’ll succeed in reaping the benefits of running. Even if you’re a starter, take up running slowly, but confidently, by upgrading the intensity each time. So, you’ll build up your regular running gait and speed to progress over time.

woman trains on treadmill

What Is A Treadclimber: General Characteristics And Purposes Of Use

What is a treadclimber? Let’s imagine a treadmill, elliptical, and stair climber. Try to combine these three training machines in one and here’s a treadclimber. This training machine is designed for getting an effective cardio workout and it works as follows: like on a treadmill, you walk forward while stepping up like when using a stair climber, with the separately rising dual platforms that meet each other after each step. So, these three movements are united in a smooth motion that resembles elliptical training.

Unlike elliptical training where your feet are constantly on the pedals, the treadclimber requires you to pick your feet up since you increase the speed of the machine with the help of your own stride.

A treadclimber is a hybrid training machine that features dual treadles for each of your feet. These treadles are swaying up and down, while the treadmill belt on each foot platform moves similarly to a treadmill’s running surface. There are also handles for balance while stepping.

Like other cardio trainers, this equipment aims to lower blood pressure, improve HDL cholesterol, help in calorie burn, and mitigate heart disease occurrence. With regular exercising on the treadclimber, you’ll get the following perks for your well-being:

  • Strengthening cardiovascular system
  • Toning the leg muscles
  • Losing weight & burning fat deposits
  • Reducing back pain

The Bowflex manufacturers claim that the treadclimber burns up to 3.5 times more calories in the same time as other cardio machines. Additionally, they provide a detailed description of workout plans and a diet regime for users of different fitness levels. 

treadclimber in use

Treadmill Vs Treadclimber: 5 Main Differences

Having these two training machines available for cardio workouts, it’s quite troublesome to distinguish the only model and generally decide which one will be more effective for your training goals. Nevertheless, let us outline the key differences between a treadmill and treadclimber, and compare their performance and characteristics.

1. Speed Range

Depending on a treadmill model, you can get a speed range of up to 12 mph, but a treadclimber offers a lower speed of up to 4.5 mph since this equipment was designed for walking only.

2. Workout Intensity

When speaking about which machine – a treadmill or treadclimber for weight loss – both machines provide a high-intensity workout, but with the latter, you should push yourself harder. That’s why you’ll manage to burn more calories with a treadclimber. However, a treadmill provides high-intensity training with a wide range of adjustment options (speed, incline) for walking, jogging, and running. Meanwhile, a treadclimber brings lower-impact training for your knees and ligaments, dominantly targeting walking. The treadles on a treadclimber have minimal incline as they slightly raise and lower with each step.

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3. Operating Mechanism 

Treadmills imitate outdoor running, but bring more cushioning than running outside. A treadclimber has two treadles that compress under each step, so such movements look like climbing upstairs. When comparing a treadclimber vs incline trainer that is a treadmill, it comes with multiple incline options, making it ahead of a treadclimber undoubtedly.

4. Complexity In Usage

It’s clear even from the first time to use a treadmill – you just step on a running belt, switch on a machine, adjust the needed speed, and start moving. However, a treadclimber isn’t so easy: the movements aren’t so common since it combines the features of three cardio trainers. Thus, it requires more time to get accustomed to it.

TreadmillTreadclimber
can be used for running/walking/joggingis used dominantly for walking
has a great speed range: from 0.5 mph and up to 12 mphhas a much lower speed range, a 4.5 mph maximum
brings high-impact training because of the running intensity and the opportunity to increase speed/incline levelsis a lower-impact training machine compared to a treadmill
is dominantly a high-intensity running machine due to its great adjustability optionsprovides workouts of lower intensity unlike a treadmill since you manage the load with your leg power
doesn’t require specific skills to start runningis a more demanding cardio trainer that requires good condition to start your workout

Treadmill Vs Treadclimber: Summary 

If you want to stay fit and maintain your physical condition, recover after injury, or have no time or finances to attend a commercial gym, then having a compact treadmill or treadclimber for your home gym is a great solution. Both machines offer numerous perks you’ll find beneficial and useful for your health, as well as drawbacks you’ll realize over time while training. Let’s sum up the pros and cons of a treadmill vs a treadclimber you should know before the purchase.

using treadclimber at home

Pros And Cons Of Treadmills:

To make a thoughtful purchase and reap the benefits of the chosen treadmill, consider all positives and possible drawbacks of this cardio trainer.

Positives:

  • Offers lower impact running than outdoors: it’s easier on your joints and knees 
  • You can adjust the speed and incline according to your needs and goals
  • Can be utilized as the rehabilitation therapy (by adjusting the speed and incline to minimal levels)
  • Can simulate specific trails and nature terrains due to interactive setups (in more advanced models)
  • Can build up your own training according to your fitness level

Could be better:

  • Can decrease your agility and ability to adjust to real-life surfaces changing
  • Can seem quite a monotonous training 
  • Your muscles aren’t involved as much as when running outside (a treadmill doesn’t target much your hamstrings to finish the stride cycle) 
  • Requires maintenance to serve you longer 
  • Can take up much space, especially if not foldable or of a commercial type)
woman trains at home with treadclimber

Pros And Cons Of Treadclimber:

Keep in mind the following points to define whether a treadclimber is the right choice for your cardio workouts.

Positives:

  • Compact design
  • Can burn more calories since it’s three machines in one
  • Has less impact on joints and knees than a treadmill
  • Sticks to more strength-oriented training that brings a greater burn for legs and glutes

Could be better:

  • Not for running or jogging
  • Can’t adjust incline and speed
  • There’s a limited amount of models available on the market
  • Not suitable for beginners, requires sufficient fitness form to withstand such loads
treadmill workout

Treadmill vs Treadclimber: When to Use Each

Being cardio training machines, a treadmill and treadclimber bring quite different perks and influence your physical condition and muscle training. It’s important to know each trainer’s characteristics to choose the right equipment that resembles your fitness goals.

Concerning the key purposes of each training machine, a treadmill can be used for a wider range of activities – running, jogging, and walking. Meanwhile, you can apply a treadclimber just for walking.

Our Recommended Treadmill – ProForm City L6 Treadmill

ProForm City L6

Both a beginner and a pro marathoner will find this ProForm treadmill model attractive due to its exceptional characteristics and functionality. It hooks attention at first sight with its slick design: unlike most upper-middle-class running machines, it’s compact and can be folded away easily by stowing the handrails in a moment.

Speaking about its performance, it’s equipped with a durable 1.6 CHP motor that can withstand constant mode switches from walking to running without any interruption, sudden speed leap, or running pace interruption. You’ll get a tread belt of 17.5” x 45” length that is enough for intense running, additionally to the speed range of up to 8 mph.

The treadmill features ProShox cushioning that brings a comfortable run along with built-in shock absorbers that keep a minimal impact on your joints and you feel much less stress on your hips, knees, and ankles as well.

Our Recommended Treadclimber – Bowflex TreadClimber TC20

Bowflex Treadclimber

This 3-in-1 hybrid trainer guarantees an exemplary low-impact workout that gently treats your joints. Its distinctive feature is a dual treadle system, which offers the advantages of a treadmill, elliptical, and stair climber in one tool. What does it mean? This Bowflex treadclimber performs like a treadmill due to the belts that move as you walk. Next, it mimics a stair climber with two independent treadles that move up and down. When combining these two motions, you’ll benefit from the third machine – an elliptical.

It’s equipped with an LCD display that enables you to track speed, time, distance, calories, and pulse zones with the help of the heart rate chest strap. The treadclimber is compatible with the G.O.Coach Workout that can help you to gain your fitness goals with an elaborate training plan. It also offers a speed range of 0.5 to 4.5 mph. You can adjust the treadle range of motion manually by using a dial at the top of each hydraulic cylinder.

FAQ

Is TreadClimber Better Than A Treadmill? 

Generally, it’s difficult to compare them because they are two different cardio machines. However, a treadmill is more suitable for those who want to excel in their running performance and get more intensive training. While a treadclimber brings lower impact workout but requires from a user sufficient physical condition and stamina.

Can You Use A TreadClimber As A Treadmill? 

No, it’s impossible because of the construction: a treadclimber features two treadles with belts that move as you walk. But, besides this spec, you’re stepping up like a stair climber, and also they rise separately by meeting each other after each step. Moreover, a treadclimber isn’t for running, you can only walk on it.

Is TreadClimber A Good Machine For Cardio Training?

Yes, a treadclimber provides a decent intensive workout because it brings lower impact on the knees and joints unlike a treadmill, and you’ll be able to burn more calories. 

Conclusion

Having outlined the key features of each training equipment separately and compared them in detail, we hope you’ll manage to define whether a treadclimber vs treadmill is a better choice for you. If you’re an avid runner, don’t experiment and buy a treadmill. If you prefer the walking mode with the possibility to challenge yourself with the stepping motions simultaneously, then try a treadclimber. Still, do you have questions about what cardio machine is a fitting option to increase your HR, strengthen your legs, and endurance? Then write to us directly to get comprehensive answers from our sports experts.

Also read:

References:

  1. Tibio-femoral loading during human gait and stair climbing // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15099644/
  2. Walking // COPA: https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/Activity-Categories/walking
  3. Energy cost of stair climbing and descending // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9309638/
  4. Running // COPA: https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/Activity-Categories/running
  5. Training effects of short bouts of stair climbing // BMJ: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/39/9/590
  6. Effects of stair-climbing vs run training on treadmill // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8289616/

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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