Should you choose the Elliptical Trainer for your cardiovascular workout?

Another piece of equipment that I wanted to discuss was the Elliptical trainers. There are a many different versions of these available so it makes it hard to give a complete review of the product. What I would like to do is cover the important items that will make an Elliptical trainer as beneficial as possible. 

Before we get into that lets look at the negative side effects of the equipment. It has some parallels to the Stairmaster in that you are not creating any impact during the workout. The negative to this is the creation of muscle imbalance as those muscles responsible for assisting in the stabilizing and protection of the joints so not receive the same amount of stimulus as they should. Instead the emphasis is placed on the prime movers in the body such as you quads and hamstrings and glutes. This is not as big of a deal as it is on the Stairmaster since there is a large range of motion component, assuming you have a machine that provides that.

The second issue is the same as many of the other cardiovascular  machines and that is the handles. These can be a real blessing and curse. You want to use them to help burn the extra calories and give some stimulus to your upper body but at the same time you want to be careful not to create any tightness in the upper body which is unavoidable if you use them too much.

We can cover some additional moves to do as part of your workout to help combat these weaknesses but for now just try to only use the handles sporadically during your time on the machine. When you are not try to swing the arms freely at your side like you would be walking. 

Going back to what we talked about in the beginning here is what separates a good Elliptical trainer from a not so good one. The key to making this machine be as beneficial as possible is to use one that allows for great knee drive, most  do not just to warn you. Take a look at these 2 examples. The first one is your typical gym Elliptical trainer. The second are the ones that were put in at ADAPT, the facility I have referenced throughout many of these posts. The Cybex Arc Trainer (picture #2) is one of the best cardiovascular machines I have ever used. Brian Cassidy (the owner of ADAPT) did his homework when he got these for the facility because they are amazing.


The amount of knee drive on the second machine allows for a much greater range of motion which increases the amount of muscular stimulus to the body, increases flexibility, and can do a decent job of emulating running. make sure if you are going to be using an Elliptical that you choose one that has the greatest amount of knee drive possible. 

Look for our Cardio Cheat Sheets soon to help you maximize your results on all of your cardio machines.

2 Comments on this post


  1. Choosing the Best Option for Cardio Machines wrote:

    […] also went over both rowing machines and elliptical trainers with you. Check each of these links on this post for some great information on each of these […]

    January 15th, 2010 at 9:48 pm
  1. Patty said:

    On the Elliptical Trainer, be sure to go forward and backward with equal time. You don’t need to stay on it for long to get a great workout. Try intervals of 30 seconds: after a few minutes of easy warm-up (forward and backward), go as fast as you can for 30 sec. then backward as slow as you can for 30 sec. Continue this for 10 – 15 minutes. I bet you’ll find it harder than you think.

    April 18th, 2009 at 10:28 am


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