Arc Trainer vs Elliptical: Which is the Better Cardio Machine?

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Written By Kathy Brewer

I am a certified personal trainer, and I take pride in helping people achieve their fitness goals through strength training, cardio, and nutrition. 





If you’re looking for a cardio workout that is both effective, enjoyable, and can help you lose weight faster, consider using an elliptical or Arc trainer. Both machines offer similar benefits, but they also have some differences that can make one better than the other.

Arc Trainer vs Elliptical – Which One Is Better?

Arc trainer and Elliptical are almost similar. However, the Elliptical is best for shorter, more intense workouts, while the Arc trainer is more effective for longer workout sessions. The main difference between these two machines is that the footpads of an elliptical trainer move in an ellipse, while those on an arc trainer move in a circular arc.

Arc trainers are great for people with knee problems as they don’t require knee bending. They also provide a more stable ride and focus on the lower body without stressing your joints.

Elliptical machines are more effective for longer workouts and can burn more calories than arc trainers. In addition to that, elliptical trainers are better at working out your hips and glutes.

In this article, I will help you choose the suitable cardio machine for your workout—an Arc trainer or Elliptical. At the end of this article, you will have a better idea of what’s better in Arc trainer and what’s better in Elliptical.

What is an Arc trainer?

An arc trainer (also called cross trainer) is a cardio machine made by Cybex in 2003 that combines the benefits of an elliptical and a treadmill.

A large circular belt moves in an arc as the user stands on it while pedaling. The workout is very similar to walking or running outside, but with less impact on your joints than jogging would give.

Arc Trainer vs Elliptical

The Arc Trainer is designed to work the lower body, particularly the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, and engage core muscles less directly. It allows for adjustments in the intensity of a workout by increasing the resistance and incline levels.

The Arc Trainer is an excellent piece of equipment for anyone that wants to increase their fitness level. It’s also ideal for those recovering from joint injuries and trying to get back in shape without putting too much stress on their joints.

The Arc Trainer stands out from other cardio machines not only because of its distinct range of motion but also due to its various features.

Some machines offer comprehensive workout information on the display, such as heart rate and calories burned with the help of an extra-large console. Some models also come with adjustable handles for upper/lower body muscle activation.

Why Use the Arc Trainer?

An Arc trainer is the perfect cardio machine to have in your home. An arc trainer provides a low-impact, full-body workout and you can also adjust it to meet your fitness level and goals.

It strengthens the upper and lower body muscles as well as the core. It also reduces stress on joints while still being an effective workout—a unique motion pattern that simulates natural strides helps with this.

Additionally, the Arc Trainer can be customized to provide a variety of workouts, including interval training, cardio, and endurance. Overall, this trainer is excellent for those who want an efficient challenging workout that doesn’t hurt their joints.

If you aim to burn 300–500 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight and fitness level, you can quickly achieve this target with proper focus.

What is an Elliptical?

Arc Trainer vs Elliptical

The elliptical trainer is a cardio exercise machine introduced by a company, “Pecor,” in the 90s that imitates walking or running.

The user stands on a platform and grips handles while their feet move against footpads in a circular motion. This movement imitates walking or running, so the body is put through a workout like what it would experience when moving naturally.

Elliptical trainers are great for toning the muscles and burning calories, but they’re also good at reducing stress on your joints compared to running or walking.

If you have knee pain or other joint issues, an elliptical trainer is what you need. They can also be used by people who have trouble balancing or have injuries in their lower body.

Why Use the Elliptical?

It provides a full-body workout that engages multiple muscles, including the legs, core, and upper body, making it an effective tool for improving cardiovascular health and increasing endurance.

The elliptical trainer works your entire body, including muscles in your arms and core that are often neglected during other forms of cardio exercise.

The Elliptical is also ideal for people looking to lose weight and improve their fitness. It’s a low-impact exercise that can help prevent injuries caused by overuse or poor form.

It does not stress your joints as running does, so it’s an excellent choice for knee pain from sports or other activities. You can still get a good workout while on an elliptical trainer.

It would help if you aimed to burn 400 calories per hour or more, equivalent to running at a moderate pace for that long.

Arc Trainer vsArc Trainer vs Elliptical Elliptical

If you’re looking for a low-impact workout guaranteed to burn calories and increase your heart rate, then the elliptical or Arc trainer is the way to go.

The several vital factors while comparing Arc Trainers and Elliptical are as follows:

Calories Burned

When it comes to calories burned, Arc trainers and ellipticals are both effective at helping individuals burn calories during a workout. However, Arc trainers may be more effective in burning calories than Elliptical. The reason is that Arc trainers provide a more intense workout than an elliptical.

With an arc trainer, you can burn between 500 and 800 calories per hour, compared to the 300-700 calories burned with an elliptical machine.

Cardio Workout

Both the Arc trainer and ellipticals are great for getting a good cardio workout. They’re especially good for people who have joint pain or injuries because they don’t put too much strain on the joints.

The Arc trainer has a unique motion pattern that might make the workout a bit tougher, but both machines are effective at increasing your heart rate and improving your overall cardiovascular health.
Elliptical machines provide low-impact cardiovascular workouts that are easy on the joints.

These machines simulate walking, running and stair climbing without putting any pressure on your knees and ankles.

Ellipticals are ideal for individuals who want to burn calories, increase endurance, and improve overall health but cannot tolerate high-impact activities such as running or jogging.

Some people prefer to work with one kind of machine and others like using the other. It all depends on your personal choices.

Weight Loss

Finally, let’s talk about weight loss. There are two factors that determine your body mass: how many calories you take in and how much energy (in the form of calories) you expend.

Weight Loss - Arc Trainer vs Elliptical

Both the elliptical and Arc trainers are effective for losing weight. Both machines provide a full-body workout that can help individuals burn calories and lose weight, but it’s consistency—as well as intensity during workouts—that makes all the difference in whether someone is successful at burning fat.

Any machine will do for your workout, but you must stay committed to an exercise routine that includes a wide range of resistance levels and inclines.

In addition to following a healthy diet and lifestyle habits—and taking the right supplements into account when doing so—you need this commitment if you want results.

Ultimately, the decision between an Arc trainer and an elliptical for weight loss may come down to personal preference.

Choosing a machine that you enjoy using is more likely to be sustainable long-term compared to one that you don’t enjoy. Of course, a healthy diet and lifestyle habits are also crucial components of any successful weight loss plan.

Pros and Cons of an Arc Trainer


  • It provides a low-impact workout that is gentle on joints.
  • It Engages multiple muscle groups, including the lower, core, and upper body.
  • You can customize it for various workouts, including interval training, cardio, and endurance training.
  • More straightforward for Beginners to use.
  • It may burn slightly more calories than other cardio machines, such as the Elliptical.


  • More expensive than other cardio machines.
  • May require a bit of learning.
  • May be challenging to set up.

Pros and Cons of an Elliptical


  • A low-impact cardio machine that helps protect the joints and tendons.
  • It provides excellent cardiovascular workouts.
  • They are less expensive than Arc trainers.
  • It can be easily found and purchased as it is affordable.
  • Different models are available according to your choice.
  • Perfect for a Complete body workout.


  • It may not provide as challenging of a workout as some other machines, such as the Arc trainer or treadmill.
  • Limited variation in incline or resistance levels on some models.
  • It has little more impact on joints than Arc trainer.


Is an Arc Trainer better than an elliptical?

The arc trainer is an improved elliptical version, so it offers more intense workouts, more significant variation in incline and resistance levels—and lets you move your body in different ways.

The Arc Trainer accommodates users who prefer to work with a stride length that’s shorter than an elliptical’s. However, it all depends on your personal experience —if you find yourself more comfortable on an elliptical, stick with it.

Is an Arc Trainer better than a treadmill?

The arc trainer is more compact, burns more calories, and requires less space than a treadmill. Cybex’s online calculator estimates that running an 8-minute mile on a treadmill will burn 425 calories in 30 minutes—more than the Arc Trainer, which claims to burn around 477 calories for a 150-pound individual after 30 minutes.

It’s also more versatile than a treadmill, allowing you to use it as an elliptical machine or stepper.

Can the Arc Trainer work your entire body?

Yes, the Arc Trainer is a full-body machine. It works your legs, arms, and core muscles. You can adjust the incline of the machine to increase the intensity of your workout or decrease it if you want to build endurance rather than strength.

Which is better for weight loss, the Arc Trainer, or the elliptical machine?

Both the elliptical and Arc Trainer are good for losing weight. However, while the elliptical is best suited to longer workouts, the Arc Trainer works better with shorter and more intense sessions. It’s up to you which one suits your schedule—and fitness goals!

Which is better for weight loss, the Arc Trainer, or the elliptical machine?

Both the Arc Trainer and elliptical machine are efficient at burning calories, but you should choose which one works best for your personal preferences. The Arc Trainer is a high-intensity exercise that targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings as well as core muscles—when compared with other training modes like running or cycling without the equipment it’s also been shown by researchers to burn more than 400% more fat per minute! The elliptical is a low-impact cardio machine that works your legs, glutes, and core muscles without stressing the joints.

Arc Trainer vs Elliptical Conclusion: Which Is More Effective?

The arc trainer is a better choice for cardio workouts, but you should use your personal experience and decide what machine is best for you. The arc trainer also helps strengthen core muscles while burning fat—making it an excellent choice if this workout suits your needs.

However, if you are looking for a low-impact cardio machine that will allow you to tone and strengthen your legs, arms, and core and burn calories while working on general fitness, then the Elliptical is a good option too.

However, choosing a cardio machine between these generally fits into your personal experience and what you are more comfortable with. Try both cardio machines before deciding if you still need clarification.

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