Elliptical Trainers


‘Why are you against the use of elliptical trainers?’


I am not only against the use of elliptical trainers. I disagree with the use of any cardiovascular exercise equipment. However, in my opinion, the elliptical trainer is the worst. Its function does not relate to any real-life purpose. Being fit, lean and healthy is a result of how your body behaves and responds to real-life activities. Riding the bike can help you get better at bicycling. The treadmill is great at enhancing your running skills. The stairclimber develops your capability to climb vertically easier. The rower improves your rowing abilities. Training on the elliptical will not make you better at anything, as no measurement of fitness currently exists in this modality.

Let’s discuss the benefits of why people use the elliptical:

1. It burns calories

You will lose body fat using this machine. However, the amount of calories the elliptical states you burn is completely inaccurate.

The makers of the elliptical program calories burned based on variables such as speed, tension and the input of your body-weight. The result is an estimate of calories being worked off, not a precise number.

Other factors need to be incorporated into the metabolic equation in order for the amount of calories burned during elliptical exercise to be accurate. Percentage of lean muscle tissue, environmental temperature and the level of exertion of the participant need to be taken into account. An accurate metabolic equation of the elliptical movement pattern should also be considered. Though, to my knowledge, this does not exist.

Consequently, what the elliptical states you burned in calories is most likely 50-60% of what you actually did. Because an elliptical is supportive and non-impact, it is easier to do.

2. Low impact exercise

Because an elliptical is supportive and non-impact, it is easier to do. You may use this machine because it is easy on your joints. Instead, you should ask yourself why you need to be easier on your joints. Are you arthritic? Do you have an injury? Do you suffer pain when you walk?

Many people have muscular imbalances, creating pain and pressure on the joints in their bodies. This is why runners often get injured. These imbalances need to be addressed through proper assessment so that an appropriate exercise plan is given to help distribute impact forces equally through the body.

Simply doing non-impact exercise will not make it better. Non-impact exercise can lead to osteoporosis. Impact is necessary to maintain bone density. If you find it difficult to walk, and believe the elliptical is a more strenuous work out, try stair climbing either indoors or outside. Not only is this a functional form of exercise, but it is also much more intense.

3. Cardiovascular exercise

Who says thousands of repetitive movement patterns is the best way to improve cardiovascular exercise? The manufacturers of cardio equipment, that’s who.

Those that produce cardiovascular equipment have a vested interest in marketing the importance and benefits of using them. These machines are much more expensive than other pieces of gym equipment, particularly free weights, which I highly recommend for cardio workouts.

The problem with doing repetitive motions is that you constantly stress the same joints and muscles by performing the same movements. This can lead to Repetitive Stress Disorder. In addition, repeatedly moving your body in the same direction can lead to certain muscles becoming tight while others become weak. If you choose to use a traditional method of cardio training, cross train by using multiple pieces of equipment so that many muscles and joints are being used.

What Do I Suggest?

I recommend everyone to do “functional core circuit training”. These are movements using free weights and your own body as resistance. These movements, designed for humans, are called “primal movement patterns”, and include squatting, lunging, bending, twisting, pulling, and pushing. In a typical day, you will perform all these movements without even thinking about it.

If your goal is to lose fat, improve cardiovascular functioning, increase entire muscle strength, or perform exercises that will assist you in real life situations, then this type of training is recommended. The idea is to have a program designed with exercises specific to your fitness level and goals. Each exercise is performed after the other, without rest, for the required sets and repetitions.

There are many benefits to this type of training: your heart-rate will be elevated, there is no impact on your joints, all of your muscles are worked, and you perform multiple joint and muscle actions. The only thing that needed is selecting the appropriate exercises for your body.

If circuit training interests you, please see the personalized exercise program section on my website. Why use the elliptical or other cardio machines to just burn calories when you can achieve so much more in the same time while burning even more calories? If you exercise for an hour, make it the most efficient and effective workout possible.

2 replies
  1. Lindsay says:

    It makes me sad that I spent so much on an elliptical, but you know what? Paul is totally right. It really helps me explain why I never make any real progress on my body.

  2. Karen Peterson says:

    I hear you, Lindsay. I was just starting to get frustrated when I decided to Google Paul and see if he had a website. I found this article, and the one about Metabolic Rates and my eyes have been opened. No more wasting time and money in the gym. I have weights at home, and I can run up hills and hang off the monkey bars in my own neighbourhood for free. I’ve lost some weight, but I lost most of it when I was going to a kick boxing class last year. Fifteen pounds to go, and the way I’ve been punishing my body on that elliptical I should have lost it by now, but no real change in weeks. I’m going to go Paul’s way and do some Functional Core Circuit Training. Isometrics and natural cardio, and stick with my whole food, low fat eating plan.

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