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confession: I'm terrified of the elliptical

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Old 10-21-2011, 03:30 AM   #1
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Default confession: I'm terrified of the elliptical

So all my friends swear by the elliptical.

"Once you try the elliptical", they say, "you'll be addicted. You'll never want to go back to the treadmill."

Okay so...it burns a crapload of calories. It looks easy enough to maneuver. Yet it scares the bejeezus out of me. I think I don't know how to do it properly or something. I've lasted maybe a total of two minutes on the thing.

Any tips on how to get started and not feel like a total dorky spazz while doing so? It's like my whole body forgets what to do when I step on it.
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Old 10-21-2011, 04:01 AM   #2
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Trust your gut. I didn't, and I got hurt really bad.

Sunday, I decided come what may, I was going to do 30 minutes on the elliptical (my first time on the machine). Most of those 30 minutes were spent standing relatively still, trying not to fall off the fool thing. I couldn't do more than a few full cycles at a time, so a lot of the time I was just rocking back and forth on the thing (moving a half circle forward/half circle back - and every once in a while doing a full rotation or two). So even though I did 30 minutes, I'm sure I looked like a damned fool doing it, because I wasn't using it "correctly."

After the 30 minutes, I couldn't walk on my own, and I spent 4 days of living **** recovering. Today is the first day that the motion of sitting down and getting up from sitting hasn't been pure agony.

I'm not in the greatest health or physical condition, so it was especially foolish of me to try to do 30 minutes on a machine that I found uncomfortable after only 3 minutes.

Listen to your instincts and if it feels like too much, it is too much. If you want and feel comfortable doing so, do two minutes, then go back to your treadmill. Next time, try to do a little more than 2 minutes, and then maybe a little more than that...

And if you're not comfortable, stay off the darned thing entirely.

In my case, I don't know if the elliptical is a great idea for me, but if I do decide to try it again, it will be for a couple minutes, and I'll work up to more very, very slowly.

Right now I'm still hurting enough that I'm not planning on trying any time soon. I'll stick with what I can do comfortably.
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Old 10-21-2011, 04:55 AM   #3
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If you don't want to use the elliptical, don't. I hate the elliptical- I never get a good workout on it.

Just because the calorie counting machine on the elliptical and online claims the elliptical burns a lot of calories don't make it true. It's a shame that some people base their workouts on these really inaccurate estimates of calories burned- it draws them towards things like the elliptical and away from the bike and treadmill.

Studies suggest the best indicator of how hard you are working is your own perceived fatigue level. Try 30 minutes on the elliptical and then 30 minutes walking on an incline or running on the treadmill, or a stairmaster. For most people, the latter two are far more exhausting... and thus a MUCH better workout.

I also don't really agree with your friend that "once you try the ellipitical you will never go back to the treadmill." One is not supposed to replace the other one. They provide different benefits.

All that to say just do the exercise you feel comfortable with and what you feel you get the best workout from
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Old 10-21-2011, 08:57 AM   #4
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I appreciate your fear and confusion! I use the elliptical mainly, and so I have made a vow to try to conquer the stair-stepper, but seriously I have a hard time adapting to it.

If you want to try again, remember that you don't have to go fast on the elliptical. In fact, I set it at pretty high resistance (I am up to slightly over half the maximum) and go slow, but still get a great workout. When I mentioned it to a physical therapist I was going to for tendonitis in my foot, he said that was great and it's very good for your core to set it at high resistance. So that makes me feel better when I see people bouncing around on it at high speed.

Also, the elliptical IS really hard at first, not just breaking yourself in to the unaccustomed motion, but in working muscles in ways they're not used to. I usually do 30-45 min at my home gym, but used a different elliptical machine on vacation I practically fell off with exhaustion after five minutes. You do get better at it with practice.

You might find some to tips to help you here (or at least get a laugh): Cranky Fitness on the elliptical machine.
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Old 10-21-2011, 09:04 AM   #5
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I didn't use the elliptical for a long time either. I was only cool w/the treadmill. However, I have to agree w/ your friend-- I was scared of it, and I love it now. I alternate using it with the treadmill and occasionally stair master. Since all machines overestimate, I enter my weight 15lbs lower and subtract 20-35% of how many calories it says I burned.
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:05 AM   #6
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The elliptical apparently isn't the best tool anyways because it isn't a natural movement. So you are burning calories but it doesn't help you improve on anything else. It doesn't make you stronger or more balanced or anything.
Pick something else. Running? Cycling? Rowing?
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:51 AM   #7
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Even when I'm running serious distance, the elliptical is difficult for me and I can't make the stairmaster work at all. I run outdoors or row.

There's nothing wrong with needing to work up to whatever amount of time you want to put in on a machine. No one starts working toward fitness already perfectly fit and capable at all movements, you know?
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:18 PM   #8
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I ONLY use the elliptical when I'm having a bit of a shin splint flare up (or it's TOM and I need to get some movement in but I'm in too much pain for spinning, running or the stairmaster).

I don't think that it gives you a good work out, it's really "easy" for me and I hardly break a sweat unless I have it on super high resistance.

Ditto to what others said about the calorie counters. I FEEL like i'm working harder if I do 20 minutes on the stairmaster vs 40 minutes on the elliptical.

Stick with what you're comfortable with, there's no rule that says you HAVE to try everything
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Old 10-22-2011, 01:17 AM   #9
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I have bad knees and jogging is too high impact for me. In my experience with the elliptical, I have built up my endurance, built up my quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings. Your targeted muscle groups depend on what setting you have the crossramp set to. You can absolutely become stronger with the elliptical if you increase the resistance as needed. When I first started, I was one level 1 for 15 min. Now a year later, I've lost 50 lbs, am on Level 16 (machine max is 20) for 60 minutes. You just have to start slow and listen to your body.

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Originally Posted by josey View Post
The elliptical apparently isn't the best tool anyways because it isn't a natural movement. So you are burning calories but it doesn't help you improve on anything else. It doesn't make you stronger or more balanced or anything.
Pick something else. Running? Cycling? Rowing?
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Old 10-22-2011, 01:33 AM   #10
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Really great advice here, everyone. I'm definitely listening to my body, which is why I jumped off after all of two minutes. I'd like to feel like I gave it a fair shake, at least. I think I'll grab one of the trainers over the weekend and see if they can give me a little mini-lesson.

Maybe it's just not for me, but it seems like some of you who also had some trepidation at first are loving it now. I guess I want to give myself a chance to love it before I decide I hate it. If that makes sense.

Y'all gave me tons to think about...thank you!
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Old 10-22-2011, 01:50 AM   #11
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I feel the same way about giving the elliptical a chance. One of the reasons I overestimated my capabilities is that I always have judged exercise by how my lungs and knees were feeling, because those were always my weakest.

I was astonished how great my knees felt on the machine, so as long as I was breathing ok and my knees didn't hurt, I thought I didn't have anything to worry about.

I now know better, and I will give the elliptical another chance (just not for a while, and more gradually next time).
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Old 10-22-2011, 07:18 AM   #12
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People choose the elliptical for different reasons, too. I do it partly because it's low impact, and I want to keep up my cardio while I'm building up my feet/knees for running. And when I am PMSing my boobs don't like any bouncing AT ALL, does that not happen to other running ladies? Or is it just a cystic breast thing? I can't yet run well enough and long enough to burn the same energy I do on the elliptical, and I don't know if I ever will be able to.

But honestly, the real reason is that I can watch my stupid TV programs while I'm on it, without the danger of falling off the back.
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Old 10-22-2011, 02:33 PM   #13
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A better bra takes care of the bouncing thing.

Runner, 150-ish, 32F/FF/etc.
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:58 PM   #14
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The elliptical is my favorite favorite thing! I love it.....I was walking and interval walk jogging and my knees and shins hurt all the time. I do the elliptical because it really gives me an awesome work out without the pain. If you are new to it find one at your gym that does NOT have the arm movement with it. That way you only have to concentrate on just getting the grove of moving your legs, and as silly as it sounds when you first start just tell yourself forward forward forward......It can be easy at first to slow down and start going backwards before you know it and could make you feel off balance.

I had lost 30 pounds dieting and walking/walk jog and once I finally joined the gym and started doing the elliptical I have gotten more than 10 lbs under my original goal. I make it a game, by doing so many minutes super hard fast, slower for a couple minutes, backwards with increased resistance for 2 min, etc and I have seen results and actually enjoy it and by changing it up with different speeds/weights it makes the 45 minutes fly by for me.

It is actually kind of funny I seem to always have these really fit guys that are always doing weights downstairs that have quite nice bodies end up on the elliptical and they can’t go as long as me or as fast......and will look over when I start going backward or kick it up in high gear not holding on the whole time moving my arms so it does make me fill good I can do that well on it now and TRUST me I was a total dork on it when I first started but am very glad I stuck with it.
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:01 PM   #15
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I...LOVE... the elliptical.

It's my favorite. I hate running and the bike hurts my bum. Honestly, it really does. lol Well the elliptical gives me a full body workout. And yes, I will admit the first couple times I felt like I was going to fall off, and my extra weight made it seem like I was tipping the machine over, but I promise it gets easier.

But then again, if you are terrified of it, maybe you should avoid it, as a means of avoiding injury lol
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