If you are a gym junkie like me, you have probably noticed elliptical machines creeping up in every gym and fitness club lately. What is all the fuss about this equipment? Can it deliver a good cardio workout compared to a treadmill? And most importantly, how much calories will I burn on the elliptical machine? These are some of the questions every elliptical skeptic is asking.
In all honesty, an elliptical machine is better than a treadmill for so many reasons. So, if you have been passing by the elliptical machine and straight to the treadmill, I think it’s time to change your ways. Doubtful? Read on, let us use some science to convince you why you should give this equipment a chance. Some of these reasons are downright surprising!
Elliptical Machines Are The New Kings Of Cardio. We Tell You Why :-
1# Easy on your joints, rough on your heart.
If you have used treadmill before, you can bear witness that the impact involved is pretty high. This is because with a treadmill, your feet are crushing against the surface and a reaction equivalent to your body weight, is sent up your legs and to your whole body. This can stress your ankle, hip and knee joints especially with prolonged, unmonitored use of the treadmill. Guess what this leads to? If not a sore body, then one full of injuries.
When it comes to an elliptical machine, things are pretty easy. You will definitely get your heart rate up and burn high amounts of calories without worrying about injuring your joints. This is because as you train, your feet stay in contact with the pads so there is no impact whatsoever.
2# Your upper body too gets some training with the elliptical machine.
With the treadmill, the muscles targeted are often your lower body muscles. These are the hamstrings, gluteus, calves and hip muscles. Sure, sometimes with the right posture the treadmill can target your abdomen but it does not do much for your upper body.
On the other hand, the elliptical machine works your upper body and lower body simultaneously. This is attributed to the fact that most elliptical machines come with arm handles that are movable. As a result, it allows you to move your arms and legs mimicking the skiing motion hence your arms, shoulders, and chest are not left out of the action.
Using an elliptical machine with moving handles might take some getting used to but once you master the form and motion, your body is not the only thing that will benefit. Your coordination will also be enhanced.
3# Elliptical machines allow reverse motion.
Some elliptical machines come with reverse motion capabilities. This allows users to run or workout in reverse. The benefit of reverse motion is that it targets more muscles and at high intensity. The muscles mostly affected by the reverse paddling are the calves and hamstrings.
Have you ever seen anyone running backward on a treadmill? Neither have I. But I can bet you it sounds like a very dangerous ordeal.
4# It is a great equipment for cross training.
One of the most important attributes of good equipment for cross training is safety. As mentioned earlier, the elliptical machine does not pose any risk of injury to your body. This makes it a great equipment for use by athletes who want to incorporate some cardio into their workout without risk of injuries.
When compared to a treadmill, in this case, the elliptical machine takes it home once again. This is because a treadmill is a high impact equipment that might cause you unnecessary fatigue and overwork your joints.
5# Elliptical machines are much safer than treadmills.
By now, everyone has seen the viral videos of people falling off treadmills. Sometimes it is more than just falling off. You can get violently thrown off a treadmill. While everyone’s first reaction is to laugh at such incidences, keep in mind that at some point, your luck might run out and instead of creating a funny viral video, your will end up with serious injuries.
I am not saying that treadmills should be avoided. No. These are nothing but great cardio equipment. I am merely pointing out that with a treadmill, one wrong move might send you flying in the air and hitting a brick wall. Such incidences are very rare with an elliptical machine. This is because of the direct contact of your feet have with the pads, as stated earlier.
So, without a doubt, elliptical machines are much safer than treadmills. Especially if you factor in how easy they are on your joints.
6# They can be used by literally anyone.
Thanks to their ease of use and low risk of injury, elliptical machines can be used by people of all ages and training levels. In fact, many elderly individuals and arthritis patients are advised to go for the elliptical machine as opposed to the treadmill. Keep in mind that when it comes to the treadmill, children are advised against using them. This, therefore, means that, if you decide to get an elliptical machine for your home, you are not the only one who will be benefiting from it.
7# Multitasking while on the elliptical machine is easier.
Just like the recumbent bike, an elliptical machine allows you to multitask while working out. This is because once you master good form and the motions, you do not require much concentration as you work out. You can argue that the same applies to other gym equipment such as a treadmill. You are right. But with an elliptical machine, multitasking is much easier.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Elliptical Machine?
While it is clear that an elliptical machine is in some cases better than a treadmill, it is wise to use your machine correctly. This not only prevents injuries but also ensures you get the most out of it. This is how you do this.
1. Always watch your form.
With any workout, to get the best results and to avoid injuries, your form has to be on point. The elliptical machine is no exception.
Keep your head straight with a forward gaze and your shoulders should be pulled back. Avoid slouching your back or bending your neck which can cause unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and spine.
The position of your feet should be guided by the foot pads and the poles. If at any time your knees and the poles are in contact, then position your feet closer to the back of the foot pads. In short, the best foot placement is where you can comfortably work out without restrictions.
2. Never ignore your console.
Most elliptical machines come with a console that enables you to monitor your vitals and workout progress. Use this information to achieve your main objective.
- If your focus is on cardio watch your stride per minute. This is usually displayed on your console. It shows you how many rotations you have made in a minute. For an effective cardio workout, keep your SPM between 140 and 160.
- To focus on your more muscles, press harder on the foot pad while working out and increase the resistance. This will add more pressure on your thighs. Also, go for a reverse motion workout to stress your leg and glute muscles some more.
- Finally, if you want to work out your core, go hands-free. This challenges your balance and we all know that balance exercises are great for core development. Just make sure you start out slow especially if you are new to this.
3. Take advantage of pre-set programs.
If you are buying an elliptical machine for your home, make sure it comes with some pre-set programs. These are really helpful at shaping your workout. This especially applies to beginners. The programs will help you build a solid workout routine with time.
Speaking of a workout routine, be sure to change your routine with time to allow progressive training hence more gains.
4. Don’t be an elliptical junkie.
As much as this machine provides an excellent overall body workout, you should not depend on it solely. Mix things up a bit. Go for the rowing machine once in a while. Other time, give the treadmill a chance.
This will prevent your body from getting used to the same movements hence enhance muscle building and a high metabolism.
An elliptical machine is a great tool for cardio especially because it has a low risk of injury and it is gentle on your body. Moreover, this machine allows you to work out your entire body and not just your legs. But all these benefits are acquired only if used correctly.
By using the tips I have given you above, you will get the most out of your workouts and better yet, use this machine to achieve your objective be it bigger, better muscles or a thorough cardio workout. As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts, views and experiences so please leave me some words in the comment section.