Monday, May 4, 2009

Elliptical Trainer Tips


I've been trying to make the switch from the treadmill to an elliptical trainer (the machine with foot pedals and moving hand grips) because I understand that it provides a better lower body workout. However, on the treadmill, I can easily do 3 miles at a Level 15/Random, but could only do 5 minutes or less at Level 1/Random on the elliptical. So, I asked others for advice. They all looked at me like I was nuts when I said I could only manage 5 minutes.

Being a problem-solver, I decided to figure this thing out. I've managed to move up to 10 whole minutes, using these tips:

  1. Keep your feet near the front of the pedal, rather than the back. People who can do it will tell you to keep your feet toward the back, to achieve better results. Don't do it! The further back you put your feet, the further you have to reach for the hand grips and the more uncomfortable the workout. Save it for when you're a pro.
  2. Do use your heels to push the pedals down, rather than your toes. This will give you a better back-of-the-leg workout, and will save the front of your thighs from screaming after only a few minutes.
  3. Don't bother using headphones to watch one of the gym TV shows. First, since the headphone jack is powered by your workout, power stops if you stop or slow down too much. Once power stops, you have to turn the jack back on and re-select your channel, volume, etc. Second, you'll get into a much better groove if you listen to your own iPod or listen to the gym music - it helps you get into a nice stride that makes the workout feel less painful.
  4. Use your arms to power the hand grips back and forth, rather than letting your legs do all the work. This not only gives you an arm workout, but also lightens the burden on your legs.
  5. Keep your speed up to at least 2.5. If you go slower than this, it's really tough on your upper thighs. Slower is actually harder.
  6. Don't go backwards at first. People will tell you that this gives you better results. However, if you are unable to do it for more than 5 minutes, it's not much of a workout. Instead, stick with going forward until your muscles have become used to the movements.

Following these tips will hopefully help other newbies avoid the "jelly legs" that I was getting by doing all the wrong things myself!
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2 comments:

Pam said...

I prefer a treadmill workout. I can keep a steadier pace and go for a longer time. The elliptical just doesn't feel natural to me.

LoveANewIdea said...

Pam-
I know what you mean - it is an odd gait that happens with the elliptical. I also "understand" the treadmill and how to operate it.

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