Elliptical(sp) trainers

Hello everyone, well after injury after injury i'm serioulsy considering packing in running for a while to see if my body will recover 100% over time. Most of my injuries seem to be impact related so i immedialty started thinking of various ways of training that would keep me at a decent state of fitness wilst minimising impact,hence my elliptical trainer thread..........has any used one,how often do you use it,hows does it compare to a workout achieved whilst running(lets say time for time to keep things simple).
Ive also had thoughts about rowing machines and ofcourse the trusty old bike. I'm not keen on swimming however,ive tried this in the past and was really dissapointed with my level of fitness when i came back to running.
Any suggestions folks?




  • Bikes support your weight so aren't as good as the elliptical for getting a good cardio workout. I use ellipticals about once a week to supplement my running training and find them a good way of adding variety.

    How much you get from them depends on how you use them. If you haven't used them before then you will probably have to start on a low setting to get used to the technique so you will need to go for longer to get the same workout. I use either the randon setting or hill setting to add variety and to mimic outdoor conditions a bit better.

    Once you have the technique mastered then you can try not holding on. This adds complexity and works the core muscles as you have to concentrate on balance as well as movement. For me it also helps with my posture as I find I have to lean forward to use the handles, and it is not very comfortable.

    You can also try using the machine in reverse. This works different muscles but is still just as good for the heart. To make it really difficult, try alternating 5 minutes forward, then 5 min reverse without holding on as you change direction - very difficult to do without falling off!

    I use the calorie readout to get an idea of the amount of effort involved. The reading isn't accurate for measuring calories, but provides a comparison between different machines and gives you a guide of how well you are doing.
  • Stayed off running for 5 months after injury (hell)...did loads of cross training between 30-60 mins at a time, random setting as Supercaz says and without holding on...I'd also use the bike either before or after, anything to try to get a decent workout and to try to keep up the fitness. Must admit it was ok but when I started running again I found it really hard (Sorry) a 3 mile run felt like a 10 miler but then I had only been running of any quantity for about a year before injury. BUT now I'm injured again so its cross trainer again for me and I've also gone back to spinning classes which seem TOTALLY different to just using the 'normal' fitness bikes even when using their random setting...spinning defo seems a good workout (used to do it all the time before I started running). Also going to concentrate on more core stuff this time whilst on the bench...I did let that slip during my last injury period..may try swimming too as the main thing I found when going back to running after being off was that my breathing was the most difficult thing to get right......guess anything helps...good luck
  • Thanks for the comments, it sounds very much like i'm in the same boat.........i really enjoy my running and i seem to have a nightmare of a time staying away from/recovering from injury.
    I used to run 6 days a week,sometimes twice a day and the best thing was it was so easy to fit it in,run back n forth to work or when you fancy it just step out your front door and your away.....now i'm gonna have to trail all the way to a gym and maybe there wont be any equipment free when i get there.......aggghh,this injury buisness is soo frustrating.
    Will look into spinning aswell,anything to hold onto some fitness.


  • I tried spinning once but I found it too tough on my knees and couldn't walk when I got off the bike. But then I have weak knees anyway.

    Step machines are supposed to be a good alternative to running as they use similar muscles. Make sure you take big steps though to maximise the use of you leg muscles. Lots of people take small steps, quickly, which is fine for getting the heart rate up but doesn't really work the muscles as well.
  • Hi Robert, I bought an elliptical trainer a few years back when I was suffering badly from compartment syndrome and stress fractures. In my opinion there is little other gym equipment that can use most of the muscles in running and gives the same 'feel' as running does. I've replicated every type of running session on my trainer, from hill sessions to intervals to easy runs to a marathon simulation (3 hours on it was harder than any marathon!)
    I agree that a stepper is a good tool as well, but the nature of the machine doesn't give it the same running feel as an elliptical trainer does, and I find if you get the hear rate up to running levels you work the legs so hard that much more than half an hour in one go is really really tough , whereas an elliptical trainer, I find, allows you to get the heart rate up to the 85% + range reasonably easy and is maintainable.
    I've had periods in the last few years where I've taken 6 or so weeks off running, switched to the elliptical trainer, and within a week or so of getting back to running have returned to the same pace, so they come highly recommended.
    If you can belong to a gym I'd recommend getting in on a spinning session, as if you are a bit of a cyclist and ignore the instructors advice to spin on zero resistance and make it a real time trial like experience, I find this replicates an interval running session very well.
    If you are thinking of buying a home trainer, I suggest getting the largest flywheel you can afford and fit, as the performance will be better.
    As an aside I am selling my much loved trainer to free up some much needed floor space (And as I have joined a local gym, I don't need it as much as I did). I'm more interested in giving it a good home than making money out of it so if you are interested let me know...
  • To add Robert, I've posted on these boards before about how I gave up running daily frustrated by injuries, coming to the conclusion that my body just cannot cope with the stresses of running on consecutive days - even if one is just no more than a recovery run.
    This year I ran a 2:57 marathon and a 1:19 half marathon based on three runs a week and 2-3 gym sessions a week - faster than I managed when I just ran every day. The key, I believe, is making sure the gym sessions are cardio vascularly very hard, as even though they are mentally tough and hurt whilst you do them, as it is non impact exercise, you recover much more quickly than when running.
    If you are repeatedly getting injured I'd seriously consider giving this sort of routine some thought.
    For info this is my rough weekly schedule for a marathon (the half is similar, just with times mileage reduced a little):
    Monday: 40 mins rowing, elliptical trainer followed by 40 mins spinning (Hard effort in the spinning)
    Tuesday: 8 miles running with at least 5 at marathon pace.
    Wednesday: 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at gym on various CV equipment, keeping Heart rate at about the same as when on a long run.
    Thursday: 8 mile run, hopefully 5 miles at tempo.
    Friday: 1 hour in gym using CV equipment or if injury free a 5 mile run at steady pace.
    Saturday: Rest
    Sunday the long run (Mileage dependent on training schedule)
    I hope this is of some help and good luck!
  • Thanks for the advice everyone, i'm definatly going to find a local gym with some elip. trainers.......once used to them i was thinking of replacing the workouts 1 for 1 until i'm confident that all my injuries are well and truly in the past. Even though ive been plagued with injury for the last 2 year i'm still hopefull that i can make a return to road running/racing,if this means a high percentage of my training is non impact then so be it.
    I can imagine i may get some funny looks sepding 2-3hrs on an elip. trainer during what would be my LSD run.
    Fun and games,lol.

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