At peak gym hours, the wait time for the row of elliptical machines may seem to stretch on and on. Elliptical trainers are certainly a popular method of cardiovascular exercise, and for several good reasons. Few pieces of stationary equipment offer the diversity and ease of use that characterize elliptical machines, making them an approachable and accessible option for essential cardio.
The elliptical trainer was originally designed by an inventor who came up with the idea for the elliptical motion by filming his daughter running alongside his car, then replicating that running motion in a machine that gave running benefits, but put less strain on the joints. And he was right.
Elliptical machines for a safer workout
A study at the University of Missouri measured oxygen utilization, lactic acid formation, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion on an elliptical trainer as compared to a treadmill, and found that the elliptical exercise was nearly identical to the treadmill exercise in every respect – but the elliptical trainer created far less joint impact. There are a lot of people who suffer from bone and joint conditions, such as ligament tears, osteoporosis and arthritis. Those suffering from such ailments can benefit from elliptical training because it does not place a lot of impact on joints.
Elliptical machines provide a cardiovascular workout similar to the one obtained through walking, running or using a treadmill. On an elliptical machine, you move your legs in an elliptical motion without ever lifting your feet from the pedals. Elliptical machines come in many different varieties, but the fitness benefits they offer remain relatively constant. So, choosing the best elliptical machine really comes down to your own requirements of features.
A great benefit that elliptical machines offer is the ability to perform a full-body workout, which is rarely met in any other gym equipment. Unlike treadmills and exercise bikes, elliptical machines incorporate upper body exercise with moving poles that you pull on with your arms. Thus, you can achieve an efficient upper- and lower-body workout in less time. Elliptical machines work a variety of muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes, as well as some in the arms, including the triceps and biceps.
A study compared muscle activity patterns of the quadriceps and hamstrings in walking on the ground, walking on a treadmill, stationary bicycling, and the elliptical trainer. The elliptical trainer produced significantly greater quadriceps utilization and greater quadriceps and hamstring coordination than any of the other modes of exercise! And a study at Willamette University found that when you pedal backwards on an elliptical, your quadriceps utilization sky-rockets even more. Considering that most people have weak quadriceps compared to hamstrings, this is another definite benefit to using an elliptical trainer.
The proof is in the study
Another study that came out of Dalhousie University in Canada compared elliptical training to walking, and found greater muscle activation during the elliptical training for the gluteus maximus (butt) and vastus lateralis (external hip muscles), with a slightly lower activation of the hamstrings. These “hip extensors” and “hip external rotators” tend to be weak in most fitness enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike, and if you need to get them stronger, it turns out that an elliptical trainer can be just the ticket.
Elliptical machines can also strengthen your abdominal muscles. When you maintain a proper upright posture during an elliptical workout, you will automatically engage your core muscles. This means you work out your entire body with the help of only one machine, rather than having to use many of them in one gym sitting. So, you not only get to have a great, total body workout, but you can also spend less time working out. Elliptical trainers have also been proven to offer a lower ‘Perceived Rate of Exertion’ when working out. This means that you’re doing more work and burning more calories while feeling like you put out less effort.
Another benefit of the elliptical is the fact that you can customize your workouts, as most ellipticalmachines offer adjustable settings. You can increase or decrease the machine’s incline or resistance to suit your needs. You can also choose to pedal forwards or backwards. Depending on the incline, resistance and direction you choose to use, you can give yourself an easier or harder workout with an emphasis on different muscles. Many elliptical machines also provide a variety of basic workout templates, such as interval workouts or hills.
One very good plus size of the elliptical machine is that it can increase aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is a very important aspect of fitness. If it is high, then you will be able to perform activities for long periods of time without getting out of breath. One of the benefits of an elliptical is that it helps increase your aerobic capacity by increasing your heart rate and making you break a sweat. Just 20 to 30 minutes three or more days a week is enough to increase your aerobic fitness.
One last benefit to support the elliptical trainer is the fact that it can be a space saver in any one’s homes. Most elliptical trainers are smaller than a treadmill and can be more easily moved to clean or to store away when company is coming. If you are cramped for space or have a smaller home gym, an elliptical trainer can be a great way to save space while getting an overall body workout
All in all those are some of the most prevalent benefits of using an elliptical trainer. This is a very good machine to help people reach their dreams and get the bodies they have ever wished for. Keep in mind that elliptical trainers have to be used regularly to work their magic, as they won’t just make you skinny overnight. However they do offer some great workout features that would benefit any athlete – from beginner to elite on their way to having a perfect body.