Elliptical trainers are stationary exercise machines that mimic the motion used by runners, cross-country skiers, and stair climbers. They typically have adjustable resistance levels and may have an option to increase the incline to simulate the act of running or skiing uphill. Many elliptical trainers have handles that move back and forth to mimic the arm movement of a cross-country skier. However, even machines without handles allow the user to move their arms in a motion similar to that used while running. Some elliptical machines can also be used in reverse to work the muscles in a different direction. The commonly asked question of “Does an elliptical trainer help with running?” will be considered in this article.
How Elliptical Trainers Can Help Runners
Similar to running, elliptical trainers benefit the user’s cardiovascular fitness by raising the heart and breathing rates. However, unlike running, the smooth motion of the elliptical removes the repetitive impact of the feet striking the ground. For this reason, elliptical trainers are quite often used by injured runners to maintain their fitness levels without exacerbating their injuries. Although elliptical machines employ many of the same muscles used when running, using such a machine is really a supplement or alternative to running rather than being an equal substitute.
The fact is that the irregularity of outdoor running conditions can never be replicated by the consistently uniform movements of an elliptical trainer. Using the machine requires less effort as the user’s body weight isn’t being carried forward, nor are there the variables of different running surfaces, inclines and weather conditions. That said, with some modifications to the training regime, an elliptical machine can be used to provide a worthy workout while saving the body from the wear and tear of high impact running. To make up for the reduced effort needed to complete the fluid, uniform motions on an elliptical, extra time should be added to each set. For example, someone who completes a mile run in 10 minutes should plan on spending a few minutes more on an elliptical to get a similar workout.
Low Impact Advantage
While elliptical trainers may not require as much effort as running outdoors or on a track, they can still provide a very good workout for runners trying to maintain their fitness levels while injured or without access to the outdoors. Elliptical trainers still build leg strength and endurance, increase the heart rate and develop aerobic fitness without causing undue stress on the knees, ankles and other joints. Some runners do not like elliptical trainers, but for those who have joint injuries or don’t have easy access to traditional running circuits, using an elliptical machine is better than doing no training whatsoever.
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