Did you ever notice that most people who use the Elliptical machine at the gym are never in great shape or “ripped”? If there’s ever a person in great shape or ripped on the Elliptical machine, it’s rare and seldom occurs.
I took a week off of my usual running recently to give my legs a rest, and since it’s the middle of winter and frigid cold I figured I’d change it up indoors at the gym and try something new. I decided to allocate all of my hours of cardio for the week to the Elliptical.
I have always speculated that the Elliptical machine did not work as effectively as jogging or maybe even a brisk walk mainly because of observing that no one who uses it was ever in great shape. I’ve been working out in gyms for twenty years and working in them for fifteen. Also, whenever I did occasionally (once in a blue moon) experiment with the Elliptical, it never seemed to make me struggle or sweat as much as running, jogging, or doing my favorite cardio machine, the stair master.
Anyway, I gave it a whirl, and I discovered I was right. After over two and a half hours throughout the week alternating the Elliptical in place of my usual runs or stair stepper, I actually gained a pound or two.
A few things I noticed made sense to why this was so. First, I’ve always speculated that removing gravity from the calorie burning equation doing cardio would remove one of the primary forms of resistance. The Elliptical does this by its’ “hovering” engineering. This is why the recorded calories the machine tells you that you burn are probably inaccurate and not nearly as much. In fact, it’s probably somewhere between 50 and 75% or less than what it’s telling you in some cases.
Secondly, I noticed a very rapid adaptation to the resistance level I used, which when you are a runner is nonexistent. Running may potentially become easier with distance adaptations and some cardiovascular adaptations may occur, but they are minor compared to how quickly my heart rate adaptation responded to the Elliptical level resistance. This reveals that the amount of resistance or difficulty produced by the Elliptical isn’t nearly as challenging as jogging or running, or even the stair master.
Because of this, two things occur. One, you burn less calories because the only way to burn significant calories is through a challenge. The lack of sweating is a physical way of measuring this. The saying, “if you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough” is essentially true. Well, the only way to sweat is to get your heart rate up and increase your body temperature through resistance, which is what this rapid adaptation on the Elliptical reduces. And secondly, it reduces your post workout metabolic rate since this can only occur to the max by going anaerobic in your cardio or weightlifting training. So you will burn less calories after you do the elliptical as a result also.
On a positive note, there’s no denying that the Elliptical will burn calories and that it is good to use for some people with bad knees, feet, hips or ankles due to the low impact. But when it comes to losing weight, dropping body fat, sweating off excess water and sodium, or increasing your metabolism, as I suspected the Elliptical just doesn’t work nearly as effectively as jogging or running.