Bowflex TreadClimber vs. Elliptical Trainer

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The home fitness equipment market contains almost endless choices, particularly if you are trying to find the best equipment for your cardio workout. The Bowflex TreadClimber and an elliptical trainer provide significantly different styles of exercise, so comparing the two might be difficult for you. The best way to find out which machine will best serve you in the long run is to clearly define your budget, exercise needs and long-term goals.

Your Outlay

Bowflex offers three different models of TreadClimber, which range in price from $999 to $3,299, as of this publication. Elliptical trainers come in a much wider selection, with low-end models costing less than $500 and commercial-quality products costing more than $5,000.

The Difference

The fundamentals of a Bowflex TreadClimber and an elliptical trainer are very different. On a TreadClimber, you can walk on the flat treadles, use them in a stair stepping motion or walk and stair climb simultaneously. You have three modes: treadmill mode, stairclimber mode, and a mix of the two which is marketed as being similar to an elliptical's motion. On an elliptical trainer, you place your feet flat on the platforms and move your legs in a running motion. Some models of elliptical trainers have handles you can hold so you exercise both your upper and lower body.

Calorie Burning

Elliptical trainers burn a significant amount of calories in a single session, which is why they are a popular choice in many fitness clubs. According to Harvard University, 30 minutes on an elliptical will burn roughly 335 calories for a 155-pound person depending on your pace. The Harvard research did not examine Bowflex TreadClimber exercise but does state that the same person would burn 167 calories walking 4 miles per hour or 223 calories stair-stepping.

Drawbacks and Limitations

Both the Bowflex TreadClimber and elliptical trainer can deliver a significant cardio workout that engenders health benefits with regular use, but neither is without its drawbacks. Bowflex TreadClimber machines only have a maximum top speed of 4.5 miles per hour, meaning you can only walk briskly on the machine at most. Additionally, the exercise motion might feel strange at first and require an adjustment period. Elliptical trainers allow you to run at a brisk pace, but most limit your motion on the set path of the machine. This can lead to boredom if you need exercise variety to help keep you motivated. Elliptical trainers also can be large in some cases and might take up more room in your home than a Bowflex TreadClimber would. And, not every elliptical trainer -- especially home models -- will fit every body type.