ARC Trainer Vs Elliptical: Benefits Compared For Weight Loss

Today we will be comparing two excellent workout machines for weight loss: arc trainers and ellipticals machines. While ellipticals are a staple of any commercial gym, Cybex Arc Trainers are just establishing their position in a good workout routine. Both are cardio devices and provide a low-impact workout, so what are the differences between the two?

If you're looking to lose some weight, either machine might be the perfect option for you. Both ellipticals and arc machines are available for individual purchase, but you're also increasingly likely to find both at your local gym.

If you're recovering from an injury, have sensitive joints or ligaments, or just prefer a low-impact workout, then it's worth reading through this piece to compare the two excellent cardio machines.

What We Like

  • Lower impact workout
  • Higher calorie burn
  • Easy to use
  • Programmable settings
  • Accommodates those with disabilities

What We Didn't Like

  • Very expensive
  • Maintenance can be difficult
  • Hard to setup

Elliptical Pros & Cons

What We Like

  • Cheaper than an arc trainer
  • Readily available at most fitness stores
  • Easy setup
  • Many incline options (depending on the model)
  • Fewer moving parts than an arc trainer

What We Didn't Like

  • Quality can vary depending on the model
  • Fewer settings compared to an arc trainer
  • Not as accommodating for those with disabilities or mobility issues

Comparing Arc Trainers Vs Ellipticals

Now let's go through and compare the benefits of arc trainers and ellipticals in various categories.

Calories Burned

One of your chief concerns must be which machine burns the most calories. Caloric burn has a significant impact on your energy levels throughout the day and how much weight you can potentially lose, so, understandably, this is one of the main reasons for buying any piece of workout equipment.

The Cybex Arc Trainer was designed to improve upon existing elliptical designs, and in many ways, it succeeded. In terms of calories burn, arc trainers are proven to burn more calories faster than ellipticals can.

Not only that, but arc trainers provide a lower impact workout than ellipticals. This means you can push yourself harder for longer without realizing the effect it's having on your body.

Like an elliptical, the heavier the user of an arc trainer, the more calories you will burn. While heavier people often have trouble with longer workouts, arc trainers' low-impact nature means you won't have the same issues as running on a treadmill (joint impact).

Winner - Cybex Arc Trainers are the clear winner in the calorie burn category. The modern design combined with the low-impact workout means you will see results faster than using an elliptical.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is more than just burning calories. It's a combination of diet, caloric burn, sleep, hydration, and several other factors that impact how much weight you can lose at any given time.

For arc trainers and ellipticals, weight loss has a lot to do with the length of your workout and the settings you program into the machine. Higher inclines and more resistance will give you better results in a shorter period of time. Arc trainers have more programmable features than many ellipticals, so you might have a better regimen using one.

Since arc trainers have less perceived exertion than an elliptical, you can work out harder for longer and not feel the adverse effects on your joints and muscles. To that end, you will most likely lose more weight on an arc trainer than an elliptical.

Winner - You will lose more weight on an arc trainer than an elliptical nine out of ten times. More settings and higher caloric burn equate to more weight loss.

Cardio Training

One of the main purposes of both ellipticals and arc trainers is cardiovascular training. Both machines excel at pushing your heart to its limits and back, increasing your metabolism and overall health in the process.

Determining the best for this category is a bit difficult as it's mainly based on your personal preferences.

Arc trainers allow you to work out for longer because of their lower perceived exertion when you exercise using the machine. In this way, arc trainers are better for cardio because you push yourself past your limits for longer stretches of time, forcing your heart to compensate and increase your overall cardiovascular health.

However, you often feel the burn more using ellipticals. Your heart will pump faster after a shorter period, meaning it's working harder on an elliptical than an arc trainer in the same period of time. If you want to feel your heart rate skyrocket, opt for an elliptical over an arc trainer.

Winner - Depends on your personal preference. You can train on arc trainers loner than ellipticals, but ellipticals push you to your cardiovascular limits more quickly.

Strength And Endurance

Neither ellipticals nor arc trainers are the best workout machines for gaining muscle and increasing your overall endurance. However, arc trainers tend to fare better in this category than ellipticals.

While both arc trainers and ellipticals provide a full-body workout, arc trainers are proven to engage the lower body more than ellipticals. The muscles in your calves, thighs, and glutes will be pushed further on the higher settings, and you'll see results faster.

For endurance, both machines' low-impact full-body workout doesn't lend itself to pushing your limits too far. However, you can increase your endurance significantly by sticking to your routine and pushing yourself beyond the pale of the muscle burn. In this way, an elliptical might be the better option for endurance training because you feel the workout more, allowing you to push past your perceived maximum level of exertion.

Winner - Arc trainers are better at building muscles. However, ellipticals are better for endurance training. Use whichever equipment you feel most comfortable with and reassess your workout routine in a few months to see if you should make a change.

Key Things To Remember For Weight Loss

No matter if you choose an arc trainer or an elliptical, if you don't remember the following things, you won't see your desired results:

  • Burn more than you eat 
    You have to burn more calories than you consume daily. Calculate the number of calories in each of your meals and measure that against your estimated calorie burn after your workouts. This is the golden rule of weight loss. Cutting corners with your diet means you won't get your desired results, no matter how much you exercise.
  • Drink water all the time  
    Water helps your body regulate fat production and recover from intense workouts. You need to drink water regularly throughout your day to keep it working properly and avoid dehydrative drinks like soda to maintain your results.
  • Rest up!  
    Take a rest day once in a while! Your body needs a break from the strain of exercise to recover and build muscle. Schedule an off-day from the gym along with maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. Your body will thank you for it!
ARC Trainer Vs Elliptical Comparison

Alternative Cardio Machines Good For Losing Weight

In the case that you're not a fan of arc trainers or ellipticals, we've provided a couple of alternatives in this section.

Rowing Machine

Mimicking the motion of rowing oars in a boat, rowing machines are fantastic for cardiovascular strength and endurance training.

Rowing machines offer similar benefits to ellipticals and arc trainers, but they're simpler to master. The correct movement is performed sitting, meaning it might be a better alternative for those who have joint issues or are recovering from injuries.

Also, rowing machines tend to be cheaper than arc trainers or ellipticals, even the high-end ones. They're great for beginners just getting into regular exercise and are easier to maintain.


Treadmills are a classic staple of any gym and are a worthy alternative to an arc trainer or elliptical.

They burn more calories than ellipticals and possibly more than arc trainers depending on the setting. For runners who like a flat surface, treadmills also offer a reprieve from the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk, so you can focus on the exercise and not worry about tripping up.

You also have a ton of choice in terms of programming with most treadmills. High-end models often come equipped with various training regimens that you can customize to push yourself where you need to go.

However, treadmills aren't as easy on joints and muscles. If you're recovering from an injury or have ligament or joint issues, then it might not be the best option for you. They also tend to be expensive, so keep that in mind as well.


In conclusion, arc trainers perform better than ellipticals in almost every category. They burn more calories, engage your cardiovascular system at higher levels, and lead to more weight loss on average. It's a great piece of equipment that deserves a spot in any gym routine.

However, arc trainers are also much more expensive and hard to maintain than almost every type of elliptical. For beginners or people just getting back into the swing of a workout routine, it might not be the best choice to buy an arc trainer to start with. Ellipticals are cheaper and require less maintenance, so they're a better option to help you establish a routine without breaking the bank.

Overall, our team recommends going for whichever machine you're most comfortable with. If you stick to it, we're sure you'll get the results you're looking for!