Exercise machines increase cardiovascular fitness, and each has its own functions to differentiate itself from other machines. The Treadclimber and the elliptical are two such cardio training machines, and although they have similarities, they are also different in the scope of what they are designed to do.
The Treadclimber is often compared to a treadmill, although its design provides training closer to that of a Stairmaster or incline trainer. It is made up of two small belts that are side by side and angled by hydraulic arms. Each belt turns at the same speed, and when weight from a step is added to the belt, the angle decreases until it is flat or until the foot is taken off the belt for the next step. Because the belts are independent of each other, they alternate rhythmically with the exerciser's stepping rate. The Treadclimber provides work that is similar to walking uphill in sand.
The elliptical was initially designed to closely mimic cross-country skiing is order to provide a good cardiovascular workout while minimizing the joint stress associated with running. There are many elliptical machines available on the market, each with varying options. Some allow the exerciser to increase or decrease the incline degree, and others allow for stride length variance.
Pros and Cons of the Treadclimber
The Treadclimber is effective in reducing joint stress and is comparatively low-impact when compared to a treadmill set at the same incline. It provides a consistent workout but doesn't allow for a lot of modification. Because of the shorter belts and limited speed, the Treadclimber does not allow for any kind of jogging or running; it is limited to walking and speed-walking, and the movement might feel awkward and take some getting used to. The Treadclimber is also substantially more expensive than treadmills and ellipticals.
Pros and Cons of an Elliptical
Elliptical machines successfully minimize joint stress associated with exercise, and because the motion resembles cross-country skiing, the learning curve is relatively low. Because the plane of motion is fixed, the potential for injury is substantially lower than running at the same pace. Ellipticals are also versatile and can be modified to make the exercise more natural---and easier or harder depending on the exerciser's goals. On the downside, because of the fixed movement patterns, ellipticals on the large scale burn fewer calories than running or a Treadclimber, so the duration of the exercise needs to be increased to achieve the same results.
Although a Treadclimber, Stairmaster or treadmill might burn more calories, ellipticals hold the advantage because of decreased joint stress and increased joint mobility. An elliptical machine will also usually be less expensive, more economical---and according to TreadmillDoctor.com, more reliable because of the Treadclimber's complex mechanical design and susceptibility to wear.