Exercise! - Eliptical vs. Stairmaster

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12-14-2006, 12:08 PM
I've used the stairmaster on and off for over a decade (both the quickie step one and the one that has actual steps) for my cardio and I must say I really despise these machines, but I really seem to get a good work-out based on the sweat and tired/breathless factor. I recently tried the eliptical, which is the most popular machine in the gym these days, but it just seemed so much easier (I'm less tired and I want to stay on rather than rush off). I'm wondering if I'm getting the same work-out. My work-out is based on burning a certain number of calories (as per the numbers on the machine, which are probably WRONG); According to the machines, I burn the same amount of calories in the same time period on the eliptical as the stairclimber, but the stairclimber seems so much harder and I seem to sweat more. Do you think they burn the same number of calories :dizzy: ?

12-14-2006, 12:21 PM
Ellipticals are well-known for not being perceived as being as strenuous as they really are (there actually was a study done on this!) I think the elliptical is a great cardio workout ... and it's the ONLY type of cardio I did for the whole year I was losing weight. :D

The way to know for sure whether you're working as hard on one machine as another is to check your heart rate and compare. If your HR is the same on both, then you're burning the same number of calories. :)

12-14-2006, 12:43 PM
Mami, I don't have anything other than anecdotal evidence for you but I have had similar experience... I run 4 miles daily (the perceived exertion for me in, let's say, 'high') and I use the elliptical for an hour most days (the perceived exertion for this is, let's say, 'medium'). I FEEL like the running is a much bigger workout. The calorie read-out on the machines at the gym are pretty similar for both, though. Okay, so here's my little bit of totally unscientific evidence: I sweat just as much doing either! :D Plus, when I stop doing either one for any period of time, I am sore when I start up again. This has to be one of the dumbest posts I've ever written, but I just wanted to encourage you that, not only is the elliptical giving you a great workout, but MIXING IT UP and doing different things will keep your body burning the most calories. Your muscles get more efficient and burn fewer calories if you do the same thing over and over, so maybe you can do both and keep your muscles guessing!

12-14-2006, 01:39 PM
my physical therapist HATES stairmaster - says more knees are ruined by sm than any other activity (including running)

12-14-2006, 01:49 PM
Hmmmmmm, wondering if I should stop torturing myself on that horrid stairmaster after what you guys are saying. I would LOVE to believe what Meg is saying, that ellipticals are perceived as less strenuous than they actually are because I really enjoy this work out...but I don't know. I don't want to cheat myself out of max calorie burn. I will see if the SM has a heart moniter (the eliptical definitely does) so I can check the difference in heartrate like Meg suggests. Will report back after my lunch time work out.

12-14-2006, 02:10 PM
If you don't have access to a heart rate monitor, just take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. :)

12-14-2006, 02:17 PM

I experience the same as you, but I have done as Meg has suggested and my heart rate is pretty much the same. When you are on the elliptical you increase the resistance at all. I find that if I increase the resistance I start to sweat like I do on the stairs. Also do you use the elliptical with the arms? I do and it is a much better workout than being on an elliptical without the arms because it makes you move your arms in a greater range of motion.

12-15-2006, 01:57 AM
I've done all three - stair machine (the one that is like a treadmill but with stairs), elliptical without arms, and elliptical with arms. The stair machine kills me. I don't know if I set at a harder level than I do the ellipticals or if it is because it sets the pace and I have to keep up with it (whereas I have to force myself to keep up the pace on the elliptical), but it seems way harder. By the end of my 15 minutes on it, I'm always at a high level of exertion. And, on top of that, it also tells me I burn fewer calories than the elliptical does. I think very bad thoughts about it because of this. :mad:

But I keep it in my workout routine anyway because 1) it is supposed to be good to mix things up and 2) all of this stuff is so darn boring it's just a little bit easier to get through my workout if I do 15 min on the stair machine and 25 min on the elliptical, rather than 45 min total on the elliptical. And I know those calorie counts are off anyway.

I haven't taken my heart rate on any of them so I don't know if my level of exertion is the same or higher on the stair machine. I don't have a heart rate monitor and anyone that can manage to accurately count their pulse for ten seconds and then actually multiply that number by six while at a high level of exertion--well, that person is way better at counting and math than I am, LOL! :lol: