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UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
5/2/13 3:02 P

That's clearer. It came across as "involving your arms doesn't increase burn" which is not true, but it is most likely very true that in this particular machine it only takes so much 'work' to move it and doesn't matter which body parts you use to do that.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,459
5/2/13 10:09 A


My point was that it requires X amount of work to overcome the resistance of the elliptical at that speed.

Involving or not involving the arms does not alter the amount of work to be done. That is governed by the settings of the machine.

I didn't say anything about running or cycling.


MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (79,230)
Fitness Minutes: (79,333)
Posts: 2,170
5/1/13 7:30 A

I ride the elliptical and also run outside and on a treadmill too. Answering the OP, elliptical workouts that are intense enough are no different than running outside on a pavement as far as your cardiovascular performance is concerned.

The difference is, when running outside (on a pavement or on the ground, obviously), the impact has to be absorbed by the musculoskeletal system, so you need to have that system sufficiently developed to be able run outside with the same intensity as you ride the elliptical.

However, running outside gets people tired quicker (probably because of the small muscles that absorb the impact at the joints get tired quicker) than riding the elliptical machine. On an elliptical machine to get tired, your large leg/back muscles should get tired, which takes longer.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 5/1/2013 (08:54)
UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
5/1/13 5:15 A

M@L then how do you explain that I can't generate the same kind of HR with a total lower body workout like cycling, as I can with running? When running I maintain about 170, but when cycling, even pushing as intensely hard as I can, I struggle to reach 150 at all.

My belief is that it's because I'm not using as many body muscles to 'work' as I do when running. Less muscles = less demand = less need for increased HR.

Therefore, the logical conclusion is that lower body workouts don't burn as much as full body ones, regardless of your intensity.

That said, notice that's cycling. I don't think elliptical would vary much from walking/running, where your arms ARE engaged (and if you think they're not try strapping them down and going for a walk/run).

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,459
5/1/13 3:45 A

I agree with Unident - what matters is the INTENSITY with which you choose to work out, not the type of exercise.

But I disagree with the concept of a so-called "upper body workout". The elliptical does not involve enough resistance to be develop strength in the upper body - it is a purely cardio workout. And cardio is basically about how efficiently the heart and lungs move oxygen to the muscles.

The leg muscles are the largest and strongest in the body, and quite capable in themselves of burning more than the cardio-vascular system can deliver. Taking some of the load off the legs and transferring it to the arms doesn't alter the body's overall demand for oxygen. It is the heart and lungs that are the constraining factor, and involving the arms doesnt change this.

However, the elliptical does have the advantage of being low-impact, which can help those who are new to exercise.


SANDICANE Posts: 3,400
4/30/13 9:20 P


UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
4/30/13 8:12 P

Not in any practical sense, no. It's all down to intensity.

What results?

Fitness results come from pushing yourself with intensity. You must challenge your limits, but it doesn't matter what type of activity you're doing. You'll get fitter either way.

Weight loss results come from the kitchen, not the gym.

YNKECHICK06 Posts: 128
4/30/13 7:58 P

I'm not completely stupid. I realize any kind of activity is better then nothing. :) I was just wondering if there was a specific difference as far as calories burnt or which provides better results. Thanks though.

4/30/13 4:25 P

It depends if the sun is shining. either or both

UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
4/30/13 3:12 P

There is no "better".

If you want to burn more calories then do that. If you can increase your resistance on your elliptical and still complete your workout go ahead - that'll burn more calories.

I can wipe you out on the elliptical and I can give you a Sunday stroll on pavement ... and vice versa.

It doesn't matter WHAT you do. Just do something, anything, and go hard when you do it. :)

OBIESMOM2 SparkPoints: (255,247)
Fitness Minutes: (128,405)
Posts: 14,957
4/30/13 2:42 P

it all depends on your effort as far as calories burned with either. If you have lots of joint/back issues and can't take the impact of walking/running on pavement, stick with the elliptical.

if you can do either, switch it up. Use the elliptical a few times a week and go outside a few times each week. But don't be surprised (or disappointed) if you are not able to cover the same distance in the same amount of time outside that you can on the elliptical. That's just the nature of things.

And just doing something is the bigger deal!
emoticon emoticon

YNKECHICK06 Posts: 128
4/30/13 2:36 P

So its better to be walking/jogging intermittently on pavement then to be on the elliptical? Better meaning harder workout/more calories burnt?

OBIESMOM2 SparkPoints: (255,247)
Fitness Minutes: (128,405)
Posts: 14,957
4/30/13 2:20 P

definitely NOT the same as far as the impact on your body. Also, outside has other elements that can add to difficulty (walking against the wind, uphill, rough terrain, etc.) But you can also have to stop frequently when outdoors to allow for traffic; on the elliptical, you can go non-stop for the full 45 min. and you can get some upper body workout on the elliptical that you will not get walking or running.

can you get as much from a 45 min elliptical workout as you can from 45 minutes outside? Possibly - depends on the effort you put in to either one.

YNKECHICK06 Posts: 128
4/30/13 1:42 P

I've been doing about 4.5 miles in about 43 - 44 minutes a day on my elliptical. Is it the same workout as say walking fast/jogging outside on pavement? Seems whenever I tell anyone what I did, they always ask me if it was elliptical or pavement. Thanks

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