Admittedly, I never like the idea of this form of exercise after first encountering it on those much hated Verimark TV adverts in the form of the ‘Orbitrek’ fitness machine, but as of late I must admit to having fallen absolutely in love with the elliptical trainer here at gym.
And if at this stage you have no idea as to what I’m talking about, refer to this picture below:
(Okay, you can stop staring now)
Elliptical trainers are designed to provide a cardiovascular workout that utilizes an intermediate range of leg motion between that of a stationary training bike and a treadmill, while at the same time providing a decent workout for the user’s upper body as well. Essentially the user stands with one foot on each pedal, grabs the corresponding handlebars and then launches into a simulated walking pattern with the pedals sliding along the elliptically-shaped path while the arms perform a pull/push motion with each stride, turning what is generally perceived as simply a minimal-impact training exercise into a proper weight-bearing workout.
The idea is that both the arms and legs perform equally in providing the ‘drive’ of the machine and thus in theory, should provide a more full body workout than just a treadmill alone and of course, then there is the further argument that the exaggerated twisting motion also helps to promote better core stability as well.
Now comparing it to a run on the treadmill, it certainly does NOT provide as strenuous a workout in my opinion but where it triumphs in leaps and bounds over a run on the treadmill is the fact that while I can train on an elliptical trainer for the whole week and not start the weekend buggered, trying the same thing on a treadmill will leave me crawling about like a cripple by the end of the week!
So having now forgiven the Orbitrek TV adverts from turning me away from this great little machine, I now find the elliptical trainer an essential part of my daily exercise routine – and no longer have to complain about just how sore and stiff my shins or knees are for a change! Needless to say, I approve! :)
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliptical_trainer