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drClaw's avatar

Are elliptical machines worthless for working out or just worthless for my goals?

Asked by drClaw (4452points) May 12th, 2009

I was told to stop using the elliptical because I was wasting my time. I have always known that the elliptical is 10x easier than the treadmill, but the trainer who said this to me made it sound as if the elliptical was a bad thing. Does anyone have any information that can either substantiate or disprove this?

Also my 3 main focuses of my workouts are 1) increase cardio/explosiveness 2) build lean muscle while maintaining flexibility & 3) maintain weight (I am preparing for an amateur MMA fight this coming November)

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14 Answers

Facade's avatar

I don’t know why someone would tell you that. Use the machine to your benefit and you’ll get results. Crank up the incline, increase rpm’s, go forward and backward, and you should be good. Of course variety is the best way to see results
Treadmills are evil anyway

dynamicduo's avatar

I’m not sure if the elliptical machine would be best for training for a MMA fight, especially trying to build explosiveness, as you are not forced to maintain your entire weight (compared to a treadmill) and thus not working on your standing and moving stamina as much. But it’s good for maintain your weight, as it does burn calories. For your goals I would recommend following a more traditional fighter’s workout schedule, including more active exercises like rope jumping and training with a partner.

3or4monsters's avatar

It’s really easy to plod away on an elliptical at a sub-optimal pace. Unlike a treadmill, where the speed is an outside force, one can set their pace on the elliptical to something comfortable.

This is great for the morbidly obese, the elderly, or someone coming off on an injury.

Healthy, young people can get a LOT out of elliptical, provided they are able to push the limits of their ability on them. Unfortunately, far too many people just plod away and barely break a sweat on the things because it’s technically exercise that isn’t hard. BOOOOO. If it’s too easy, I don’t think you’re doing it intensely enough.

For people who have self-discipline problems who can’t seem to push themselves hard, I wouldn’t suggest an elliptical either, but that does not mean an elliptical is worthless for everybody.

syz's avatar

What’s your goal? An aerobic work out? Check your sustained heart rate.

DarkScribe's avatar

If you use an elliptical properly, then it is excellent. By properly that mean using a cardio monitor and keeping yourself in “the zone”. I have exercised all of my life – have always had a comprehensive home gym, but after an accident and multiple bone surgery, I couldn’t use anything that jarred the joints for a year or so. I kept up with my cardio fitness using an elliptical machine and a rowing machine. They are definitely effective.

drClaw's avatar

Thanks everyone for your input.

@dynamicduo what you said makes sense to me, we work a lot on explosiveness (primary focus of our conditioning) and I think the underlying negative tones I detected from my trainer came from his disdain of any exercises not beneficial to that explosiveness.

kevbo's avatar

I’ve seen MMA guys on TV training on treadmills with snorkles duct taped to their mouths to improve VO2 efficiency. Might be worth investigating.

drClaw's avatar

@kevbo I have never done that or even seen any of the pros on my team do that, but it sounds like horrible torture, which means it’s worth trying.

Knotmyday's avatar

The ellip is a great workout- for your butt. If you have knee problems, you might be able to squeeze some good out of it in time, but I’d go with a bike or swimming for low-impact. If you aren’t hurt, go with tabatas or some other interval-based exercises, and stay off the machines.

(listen to your trainer.)

rooeytoo's avatar

I use an elliptical trainer on the days I don’t have the opportunity to go out and run or ride the bike. If you go hard, it is an excellent, no impact, cardio workout, just a little bit boring.

Darwin's avatar

When I was first starting to get into shape after several years of sitting due to multiple surgeries I did use the elliptical. It was easy at that point to get a good cardio work out on it. However, there came a time when even the highest incline and resistance wasn’t challenging enough, so now I avoid them.

Also, all ellipticals are not equal. Our gym has several brands of them, and one brand in particular is apparently designed for folks with short legs or at least different legs as I injured my knees on it. The other elliptical machines were fine but that one type caused me to strain the tendons around my knees.

I would suspect that if you are training for explosiveness then the elliptical would not be the way to go.

bright_eyes00's avatar

you work different muscles with different machines. i will run a mile and then go on the elliptical for a half hour-ish and then go to another machine like the stair master or something similar. if its all you do then there’s no point but if you incorporate it in a workout it helps tone muscles that you wouldnt otherwise with just running or a stair master.

sanbuu's avatar

The Elliptical does work, but you can’t just depend on it. Try going outside once in a while and just hike or speed walk or go out for a quick run.

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