Exercise! Love it or hate it, let's motivate each other to just DO IT!

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Old 06-22-2010, 05:24 PM   #1  
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Default Do you agree with this article? ellipticals are inadequate?

As a frequent user of my elliptical trainer, I was somewhat shocked to read this article which states that ellipticals are not very good machines for burning calories. I know I can get my heart rate up on mine, just like any other machine. I am wondering if the opinions shared in this article have any value or not. I do agree that the calories burned calculator is probably an overestimate but the same can be said for most exercise machines. What is your opinion on this article?


3 Reasons Elliptical Machines Should Be Avoided

The elliptical machine is a popular piece of equipment, but is it really the best for helping you burn calories and lose fat? I don't think so, here's why.

The latest Men's Health magazine comes down on elliptical machines hard. Now I know elliptical machines are often the only option for people with bad knees, but if your knees are healthy, think twice before using the elliptical machine for these three reasons.

First, on page 52 of the December, 2008 issue, Men's Health warns, "Never trust elliptical machines". That's a harsh statement against a machine you've been using almost every day. But if it did work, wouldn't you be getting amazing results from the machine?

They quote a study that found elliptical machines over-estimated the number of calories burned in a workout by 31%! Ouch.

So if your "elliptical cardio workout" burned 400 calories, the truth is you really burned closer to only 300 calories.

Second, later in the Dec. issue, Men's Health magazine interviewed Biggest Loser contestant Ed Brantley. Ed lost 73 pounds on the show, but had this to say about elliptical machines, "I hated the elliptical. It was too easy, I didn't feel like I was doing anything." Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself.

But that's EXACTLY why machines are so popular. You see, the third reason elliptical machines are inferior for fat loss is because they fail my "human nature" test.

Put it this way, if you take 100 people and put them in a gym with 100 treadmills and 100 elliptical machines. Tell them they have to exercise for 30 minutes at a hard pace, and they have the choice to use either the treadmill or the elliptical.

Guess where 90% of folks are going? The elliptical! Why? Because it is human nature to take the EASY WAY out. And that is why elliptical machines are so busy at the gym and you rarely see anyone doing intervals on a treadmill or bodyweight circuits in the corner of the gym.

Often I see folks using the machine only to say they "worked out", but without getting any REAL work done. So if you are stuck at a fat loss plateau, and you've been counting on the elliptical machine to help you out, then forget it.

I recommend doing interval training outside, or on a bike or treadmill. Even better options include kettlebell training and bodyweight circuits.

Click here for a sample interval cardio fat burning program that has helped thousands of men and women with weight loss and fat burning.

The Turbulence Training fat burning workouts help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment.

Craig Ballantyne is an expert trainer for Men's Health magazine and Oxygen magazine, and his fat burning bodyweight workouts help you lose fat without any equipment at all.

You have permission to publish this article in your web sites, ezines or electronic publication, as long as the piece is used in its entirety including the resource box, all hyperlinks (HTML clickable) and references and copyright info.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Craig_Ballantyne
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:42 PM   #2  
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I have to agree. when I've taken my own pulse, it doesn't match up with what the elliptical says my heart rate is. That said, you obviously still burn calories, just not as many as you might think.
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:52 PM   #3  
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I don't agree with the article....the calorie count on machines suck in general but I feel like I get a great cardio workout from mine. I do the harder programs. It's not my only form of exercise though
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:13 PM   #4  
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I do agree that the HRM on the elliptical is often wrong, thus overestimating the calories burned. I disagree that it can't be an effective workout - I wear my own HRM and do the programs that go up and down in resistance and incline. I have seen my heart rate hit 195 on the elliptical on one of those programs. It does feel easier, so you have to put effort into it. I often am short of breath and weak legged when I get off the machine - definitely an effective workout for me. If I make it one. Can I slack off and take it easy on the machine, too? Absolutely. It is what you make it.

And it isn't my only form of exercise now either, but when I first started exercising it was.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:15 PM   #5  
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This is an interesting article. I read it with an open mind...knowing how much I love the elliptical...but what he said about the treadmill vs the elliptical made total sense. I do agree...the calorie count may be off...but you still can get a decent workout on it...in my opinion at least.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:35 PM   #6  
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Sorry, but when the resistance level hits 11 on that thing when I've got it programmed at random intervals, and I am trying to step backwards, while also working my arms ... no one can convince me I'm not working hard or getting a decent workout.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:42 PM   #7  
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I wear my HRM for my workouts and don't look at what the machines say. And since I wear a polar hrm, it usually registers fairly accurately on the machine with the linkup.

But, what most people neglect to do is to input height, age and weight into the machines in order to get a more accurate workout.

I do agree that the elliptical is an easier machine to use, and not just that its an easy workout - its just intuitively easier. When I first started at the gym I was afraid of the treadmill. I didn't know how to make it work and was afraid of falling off. And I know I'm not alone in that feeling.

The elliptical was more comfortable to use as a newbie to the equipment. You step on it and you aren't going to fall off. You start peddling and it starts working for you. You make the workout what you make of it.

As for a side by side comparison - I could get on the elliptical, move my feet and do a workout, or I could get on the treadmill and walk at a 2.5mph pace and either way, I'm personally not getting much of a workout either way and I'm not getting my heartrate up.

If I'm going to workout, I'm going to use the resistance settings on the elliptical, and use the elliptical with the upperbody motion bars to increase my workout. And on the treadmill I'm going to run, or use the incline or something. Either way, I'm going to work towards getting my HRM heartrate up in the 170's and work hard. Or I'm going to do intervals or whatever it is I plan for that day.

For me, ellipticals have become my choice for recovery days. Its a good lower impact exercise if I need to rest my knees and or if I'm suffering doms from a hard leg workout. I can still work hard and get my heartrate up without the impact. It serves its purpose.

Based on my HRM, weight and fitness level, I generally burn between 500 - 600 cals per hour no matter what the exercise is. I could ride outside, run, do interval sprints, elliptical or even Insanity cardio and I still average between 500 and 600 per hour.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:55 PM   #8  
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When I first tried an elliptical I thought it was very hard! I had been working out on treadmills, but couldn't even last 2 minutes on an elliptical. Now I love them and they are my equipment of choice (and help my bad knee). I know they overestimate calories burned, but that isn't really a good argument about how good a workout you get.

Seems to me that you certainly can get a great workout on an elliptical, or you can coast... but the same holds for a treadmill, too...
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:20 PM   #9  
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Am I the only person who finds the elliptical harder than a treadmill? Lol.

I HATE the elliptical. I do. I feel like I'm walking like a robot, my short legs have a hard time keeping up, and even on level 0 I feel like I need to shove all my weight onto one foot, then all my weight onto the other, and back and forth to get it to work. (I feel like when I was 5 years old and trying to get my grandmother's exercise bike to rotate.)

With that said though, I disagree with the article. Since I don't find it easier, I don't see that it's the "easy way out". Oh sure, the calorie counter is horrendously wrong, but you can figure 100 cal per mile (which is probably an underestimate, especially if you're not on 0) and be happy. I avoid the elliptical because I really do hate it... but I can't see an article that's this negative and clearly bias and agree with it off the bat.

Unless I get some hard evidence, I'm not convinced Fun read though.
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:23 PM   #10  
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I don't think this article was written in an educated way. It just sounds like a guy rambling.

When I first started losing weight, it was all due to my elliptical, I wasn't even eating all that right. Unfortunately it broke so I had to learn to eat right, and now I have a gym membership and do both

And I get tired on it quicker then when I do on the treadmill. I love swinging my hips on the elliptical to give my body more motion.

I think everyone can agree those machines tend to over estimate your caloric burn, though.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:03 PM   #11  
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I dont think I get the same workout on the elliptical as on a treadmill. I can work MUCH harder on a treadmill. Much. I simply can not get my heartrate up that high on an elliptical. I can take myself to MHR on a tread. Because for me the stride is more natural.

But that being said - what a stupidly written article. 3 reasons to AVOID?. 1) the calorie output lies (uh...yeah so do most cardio machines including treadmills) 2) it feels too easy therefore it must be too easy (so work harder dip) 3) People are lazy and given the choice they pick an elliptical therefore ellipticals are for lazy people.

Why not say "Be aware you might not be burning as much as you think you are." No reason to call the machine something to avoid. What's next, the stationary bike must be downright dangerous.

I actually dont like the standard ellipticals, like Wild Vulpix, I find the stride much too long and the only time I have ever injured my knees is on one. But I use a "Cross trainer-elliptical" at my gym which is kind of halfway between an elliptical and a stair climber on days I dont want impact.

Edited, wait he recommends an INDOOR bike over an elliptical? uh....by his reasoning...no

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Old 06-22-2010, 08:28 PM   #12  
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Look, I can't be the only person in the world who pretty much ignores the machine readouts for calories burned & heart rate. I don't believe in either. These machines are simply not that finely calibrated or sensitive. To get readouts on that, about all I'd trust would be the equivalent of an EKG machine in a hospital.

When I'm looking at the glowing red & amber numbers, I'm interested in time & resistance level & program chosen. I never set out on an exercise session thinking I'm going to burn "x" amount of calories. I just want to work hard, at least as hard as I did the last time I was on that machine & preferably even harder, & I want it to be progressively harder over a longer period of time. I figured on consistency (with me, until my health changed things over the past week, it was daily) & the freakish way in which suddenly, after a lot of so-so sessions, I have a day in which I feel I am superwoman, & this is usually seredipitous sign that I'm finally moving to the next level.

I do believe it comes down to math, with the calories in & calories out, but I don't think we're digitally programmed -- our bodies have their perverse rhythms, which may not be mathematically chartable -- so I never check the machines for this stuff.

Besides, there's make & model # & all those other variables, and how the machine nearest the window has a smoother action, and the one by the doorway has a creak that drives me insane & etc.

I think fixating purely on the numbers too much is the way to dieting/exercise insanity.

Last edited by saef; 06-22-2010 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 06-22-2010, 09:50 PM   #13  
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Originally Posted by saef View Post
Look, I can't be the only person in the world who pretty much ignores the machine readouts for calories burned & heart rate. I don't believe in either. These machines are simply not that finely calibrated or sensitive. To get readouts on that, about all I'd trust would be the equivalent of an EKG machine in a hospital.
I agree with your whole post, but wanted to call this part out.

As others have said, I can climb on the elliptical and leave it at 0 resistance and 0 incline and then exclaim at what a useless workout it is. I can also do that on a treadmill. But when I've got my elliptical on an incline with the resistance cranked up, it can kick my butt faster than anything.

I personally am not super fond of the treadmill. I don't like running on them because I can't vary my speed unless I punch buttons, so I prefer to run outside. So for me it's running outside in good weather, and elliptical indoors in bad weather.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:27 PM   #14  
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Oh yeah saef. I have never in my life entered my weight in a machine, even when it requires it. Whatever the default is, that's good enough.

The only machine I ever look at the calorie number is the Concept 2 rowing machine and that is just because that is the default unit of work. I know now how to change the settings but since I started racing the pace boat at "580" cal/hr and I now race the pace boat at "685" cal/hour I want to stick with the unit. It could just as well be 580 jizzywugs/ballyhoo...its just a number that goes up and down and correlates to effort.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:40 PM   #15  
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I've heard a lot of fitness experts recommend not using the elliptical. Personally for me I believe that I can get a good workout on it, and do incorporate it in my daily exercises. Sometimes I see people come into the gym and go on the elliptical for 20 minutes on the lowest setting without breaking a sweat, then getting off and leave. In that case I don't think you're going to get an efficient workout, but if you put it on a high setting and really push yourself, I think it is effective to get your heart rate up and burn some extra calories.
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