Exercise! - Elliptical vs. Cardio

View Full Version : Elliptical vs. Cardio

02-13-2007, 12:09 PM

I am not in good shape, and have always been told that running :woops: is the best way to lose weight and get in shape. While I remember once walking on the treadmill, while huffing and puffing, I'm sorry to say that to date, jogging at a 5.0 for 6-7 minutes is about the current best I can do on my treadmill, and that's really giving it my all! (I mean, that's just killing myself, but in a good way.) Of course, when I can't tolerate running any longer, I go back to walking at a brisk page, and than continue jogging when I feel ready, off and on, but I can't help but wonder if using the elliptical would be better for me at this point because it's more constant?

So I guess my question is, assuming that I cannot "run" like I'd like to now, which exercise burns more calories? The treadmill, or the elliptical? I researched this question online, and received mixed reviews. Which provides better cardio at the level that I am at? Has anyone of a similar fitness level had better results one way or the other?

Any feedback would be great!



02-13-2007, 12:18 PM
I always feel that I'm getting a better workout on the elliptical than a treadmill. I sweat more and my HR gets higher.

I use the model that works your arms at the gym, it seems to have some resistance too, depending on where I set it.

02-13-2007, 12:26 PM
My advise is listen to your body, not to what "they" say. If you don't like running, it will be nearly impossible to keep it up on a consistent basis.

I think "they" say running is "best" because it does not take expensive equipment (assuming you don't already have a treadmill). Other "theys" will say that the best exercise is swimming, biking, walking, rope skipping, etc. etc.. I have a recumbant stationary bike that has proven effective for me. When I do get to use an elliptical, I find it good for a change, but seems much harder - that probably means it is a tougher workout. I don't have any plans to buy an elliptical.

Another thing that works for me is mixing up my workouts using 45 minutes of single speed cardio some days and 20-25 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) on others.

I suggest you keep doing research, ignore 95% of what you read, and find a plan that you like and can stick with. I find that when I stop to look for the "best" workout plan, I stop doing anything at all.

02-13-2007, 12:27 PM
I've read that the elliptical is a better workout mostly because you are working harder than you perceive yourself to be working. For me, I am pretty clumsy so the treadmill doesn't work for me. The treadmill is perfect because I don't need to take my feet off so that I can not have to worry about falling or anything. Also the elliptical is gentler on the knees while running can be bad for your knees.

02-13-2007, 12:47 PM
When I first started running, I couldn't go more than a few minutes before feeling like I was going to cough up blood and fall over -- but the key is, if you like the activity and would like to become more proficient at it, practice makes perfect. I have worked up to running at 6 m.p.h. for a minimum of 30 minutes, 6 days per week, and now have to adjust that because I've become too accustomed to it (i.e., muscles and respiratory system have adapted and it's not as challenging a workout). Interestingly enough, just yesterday at the gym all of the treadmills were occupied, so I hopped on the elliptical. Although I was on it for 45 minutes at a top resistance setting, it didn't do much for me at all -- I felt like I had just wasted my time, as I didn't sweat/work nearly as much as I used to on that same machine prior to me becoming a runner. (I began my workout odyssey 4 months ago using the elliptical, and it used to totally kick my arse.) So, my circuitous point here is, maybe you should have the elliptical progressively kick your butt more and more, upping the settings and time as appropriate, and trying to run a couple times a week also. I can't stress enough, though, that you really have to practice at running and NOT overdo it so as to turn yourself off of it, and before long, you'll be able to run a whole mile without "kiling" yourself. :) Keep up the good work!

02-13-2007, 01:51 PM
My standard cardio routine for a long time was 15 min on the stair machine, 15-25 min on the elliptical, and 15 min on the treadmill (usually running on a 3.5 incline, but sometimes walking with the incline set almost as high as it can go). I did this 4 days week and still do it 1-2 days week. According to the machines, the elliptical burns the most calories, the stairs burns the least, and the treadmill is in the middle. I suspect however that these differences are due to inaccuracies in the machines and that in reality, they are all the burning about the same number of calories in the same amount of time. I find the stairs the hardest and the treadmill the easiest.

This routine has worked pretty well for me. I lost 30 lbs on it and it has definitely improved my cardio. When I started, 10 min was the longest I could run outdoors without stopping (although I could do 15 min on the treadmill). About a month ago, we had an unusually nice day and I decided to go for a run outdoors instead of my usual cardio at the gym. I was shocked that I was able to run 5 miles (a full hour) without stopping. I'm now up to six miles in an hour and five min with no stopping or walking.

About six months ago I added an hour of swimming laps in place of my regular cardio routine one day a week and I do think that my cardio endurance has started to improve faster with the swimming.

I think your best bet is to do a variety of cardio exercises. My gym has two elliptical machines, one with arms that move and one with arms that are stationary but where you can set the incline. I find that whichever one I haven't been using much lately is the hardest. Your body adjusts to whatever exercise you are doing and it gets easier; switching do different machines helps to prevent this from happening. It also helps keep your workout more interesting.

02-13-2007, 01:57 PM
Hey! my exercise move of the month is on the elliptical and in half hour I burn 320-350 cals and you will FOR SURE burn 300 so if you repeat it you can burn 600 cals in 1 hour. I like it better than the treadmill or as I call it the DREADmill haha so this is what I do on an eliptical for 30 mins:

minutes incline resistance
0-5 3 4
5-10 1 6
10-15 7 7
15-20 10 8
20-25 15 7
25-27 20 10
27-30 3 4

**I only needed the paper for 2 days with the numbers and then it was so easy and effective that I memorized it**

02-13-2007, 01:59 PM
shoot that didnt line up how i typed it to be...i'll re-do for you

mins 0-5 (inc.3/res.4)
mins 5-10 (inc.1/res.6)
mins 10-15 (inc.7/res.7)
mins 15-20 (inc.10/res.8)
mins 20-25 (inc.15/res.7)
mins 25-27 (inc.20/res.10)
mins 27-30 (inc.3/res.4)

It goes by fast and it's only hard for 7 mins (20-27) and by that time it's easy to say to urself (only 10 more mins til half hour!)

02-13-2007, 02:03 PM
Hi Gingercakes, We are all different. If you don't like what you are doing you will not stick with it. I like the elliptical. I am about your same size. But probably not your same age. I also do the bike and treadmill. I weight train every other day and that is what I like the most. I do cardio everyday.
Good luck.

02-13-2007, 03:12 PM
I love the elliptical because it is easier on my knees. I feel like running is just pounding every joint in my body.

02-13-2007, 03:50 PM
I love the elliptical and I think it's a fantastic workout, but I worked my way up in running and now I'm addicted to it. I still do the elliptical as a cross-training activity. My advice, if you want to run, is just slow down for now. If running for 6 minutes at 5.0 makes you feel horrible, slow down to 4.8 and see how long you can go. I usually run at 4.8 with a few intervals of 5.0 and then go back to walking. Running can be hard on your knees, yes, but it also makes you burn fat like there's no tomorrow. I sweat FAR more when running than I ever have on an elliptical. But you have to do what works for you, and what you like and will stick to.

02-14-2007, 02:06 AM
Wow- what awesome responses I got from everyone- thank you!

You know, I hate to say this, but I feel like I'll never be "truly" fit if I can't run. But it's so miserable.... My husband can run on the treadmill at 10 MPH like there's no tomorrow, but not me. I feel like I'm cheating on the elliptical, although my sweatiness tells me otherwise.

I agree with Nellie regarding her comment about working harder than perceived on the elliptical. That's why I feel like I'm cheating.

As for the stair climber here, I don't think there are many workouts more intense than that!

Just like in bodybuilding, I guess as long as we keep "shocking" the body, change will continue.


02-14-2007, 02:07 AM

Thank you for the advice. I think when I'm not so stubborn, I'll try taking it.



02-14-2007, 02:29 AM
You know, I hate to say this, but I feel like I'll never be "truly" fit if I can't run. But it's so miserable..

Pretty much anyone can become fit enough to run. How badly do you want it? ("Not enough, I guess" is a reasonable answer here, of course.)

Hal Higdon, who is a big name in running without extreme pain/running more reasonably, has a very do-able plan that's online here: http://www.halhigdon.com/beginrunner/intro.htm