Why You Should Ditch the Elliptical Machine and Get a Real Workout!

CoachMel Exercise 5 Comments

I’m not much into ‘gyming it’ anymore, but well over 10 years ago when I used to frequent the gym often, I must admit to liking a wee turn on the elliptical machine.

I’ve since mended my ways! 😉

It’s not that I hate elliptical machines per se, I just think there are much more effective ways for you to workout.

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Here’s why…

1. Elliptical machines are easy

The main reason elliptical machines don’t get you into shape is because they are too easy.

Now, before you start shouting at your computer screen, hear me out…

Sure, you might sweat a bit on an elliptical machine, and you will probably get your heart rate up, but they just don’t force your body to work as hard as when you do other forms of exercise.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a test…

Try 20 minutes on an elliptical machine, then compare that to 20 minutes of pounding the road jogging.

Trust me, those 20 minutes jogging will be so much more difficult than 20 minutes on an elliptical machine.

You see, the design of the elliptical machine favors momentum, and that is why it makes your workout easier.

2. Elliptical machines overestimate calorie burn

Picture this…

You step onto your favorite elliptical machine, and after 20 minutes of slogging away, your efforts are well and truly rewarded when you look to see how many calories you’ve just burned… enough to offset that pie and chips you had for lunch. Fantastic!

But, did you really burn that many calories??

Researchers from San Francisco’s Human Performance Center think not.

They found that cardio machines overestimate calorie-burn by pretty hefty amounts:

  • Stationary bike: overestimated calorie burn by 7%
  • Stair climber: overestimated calorie burn by 12%.
  • Treadmill: overestimated calorie burn by 13%
  • Elliptical: overestimated calorie burn by 42%

Pretty shocking really. And, definitely something to keep in mind, if you like to exercise using cardio machines.

3. Elliptical machines don’t engage your mind

I’m sure you’ve observed people ‘working out’ reading a magazine, or watching TV at the same time.

Maybe you do that yourself!

To me, that is more of a ‘walk in the park’ than a hardcore workout session.

The thing is, doing exercise that actually changes your body involves engaging your mind with what your body is doing.

You simply can’t do that if you are reading the latest edition of OK! Magazine.

So, what can you do that’s more effective?

Firstly, I urge you to avoid the path that many gym users fall prey to, where they pat themselves on the back after flapping around on an elliptical machine for 20 minutes, then wonder why they get zero results 6 months down the line.

Better than the elliptical machine

If you really want to boost your metabolic rate and get a lean body, you need to force your body to change through resistance.

5 alternatives to the elliptical machine:

  1. Try the treadmill or bicycle instead, but make sure you are working hard and the resistance is high
  2. Try some kettlebell swings
  3. Or get a jump rope, and give that a go
  4. High intensity sprints are another of my favorites for getting results
  5. And, don’t forget about bodyweight training – squats, pushups, planks, pull-ups are all extremely effective exercises, that actually push your body to change

P.S. If you really don’t want to give up your elliptical machine just yet, crank up the resistance and make sure you are working your body each time

Remember, if you are training in your comfort zone it is practically useless.

Instead, you need to train smart. That’s something you can feel good about!

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Comments 5

  1. evilcyber

    What if people hate running? Would you rather have them do no fitness at all than use an elliptical?

    You can outeat *any* form of fitness, no matter if it’s 20 minutes jogging, an elliptical or cycling. “Getting results” means burning more calories than you eat and no matter what form of fitness you do on the way, it’s just supplemental to the main task.

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  2. Diana

    This is a really great and inspiring post. Often times we ditch what we need to be doing for things that we find easier. We have to stop lying to ourselves for us to get the bodies we are striving for!

  3. Jordan Ring

    I never realized the ellipticals were really not the way to go. What are your thoughts on stairmasters? I definitely feel the workout when I do those, but I am able to watch TV at the same time.

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