A Treadmill Vs. an Elliptical for the Gluteus Muscles

Both treadmills and ellipticals are pieces of exercise equipment, providing cardiovascular activity that effectively tones lower-body muscles. Because treadmills offer running or walking opportunities, gluteus muscles are necessary to continuously propel the body forward, especially when the treadmill is at an incline. Ellipticals simulate the act of running but reduce the amount of weight-bearing pressure on hips, knees and ankles, something that treadmills do not. The hamstrings, quads and gluteus muscles all receive a comprehensive workout when exercising on an elliptical as well.

A woman is running on a treadmill in a health club. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

Gluteus Muscles

Gluteus muscles consist of three separate muscles: the gluteus medius, maximus and minimus. The medius facilitates thigh movement of the leg away from the body, as when kicking a leg out to the side. Our ability to stand up and remain standing is controlled by the gluteus maximus. The minimus, which is the smallest gluteus muscle, assists other muscles in performing walking, sitting and standing motions. This strong, versatile glute muscle supports tendons in the pelvic and thigh area as well.

Advantages of Treadmills on Gluteus Muscles

To give the gluteus muscles a harder workout, treadmill enthusiasts should incline the treadmill platform to effectuate a lunging style of walking or jogging. Sometimes called "incline training" this type of exercise forces the gluteus muscles to uphold a trainer's body weight and continuously shift it from one leg to another. However, when walking or jogging on a treadmill that is not inclined, a tendency to work hip flexors more than glutes exists because there is no incline to add stress to the glutes. Most trainers alternate between walking on an inclined treadmill and a non-inclined treadmill to avoid developing muscle imbalance.

Advantages of Ellipticals on Gluteus Muscles

Ellipticals provide a comprehensive workout for all parts of the body, including the gluteus muscles. Although the exerciser experiences the movements involved in walking and running, the impact on joints is less than it is on treadmills because of the gliding motion provided by ellipticals. So if you want to tone your butt muscles but suffer from issues provoked by weight-bearing exercises, an elliptical would be a good choice to begin this type of program. However, the general consensus is that treadmills may be more effective at working out the glutes than ellipticals.

Treadmill or Elliptical for Glutes?

According to a study conducted in 2007 by the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, jogging on a treadmill engages almost 50 percent of the gluteus maximus, whereas an elliptical only works out 32 percent of the same muscle. However, because some individuals may not be able to withstand the high impact exercise provided by a treadmill, the elliptical is the next best thing. Altering the way you stand on an elliptical may add more stress to the glutes. Try pushing your butt out farther and forcefully bringing your heel down when "glide-walking" on an elliptical.

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