Elliptical trainer and running

Elliptical trainer or crosstrainer: it's a great way to get in some crosstraining if you're a runner. I'll tell you what to look for and how to use it.
Crosstraining for runners.

It's like social media for bloggers: you can't get around it. You have to do it.

And I've found a way to come to peace with my resistance against crosstraining with an elliptical trainer.

Crosstraining is important for runners

When I finally did something sporty in my thirties and took up running, I was so impressed with myself I didn't think I would have to do anything else, ever again. Then I read about the importance of crosstraining.

For about ten years I managed to ignore it, but then one day I finally faced it: crosstraining is important if you're a runner.

If I have to do crosstraining I want an elliptical trainer to do it with!

But I wasn't going to take it lying down. If I hád to do crosstraining, I wanted a new toy to do it with. So I took to eyeing elliptical trainers. With five kids, finances are tight though. So I bought an elliptical trainer at the local thrift store for 55 bucks. I didn't want to spend too much money because I wanted to make sure first, that elliptical trainers and me would get along.

And I'm happy to report that we do. Even though it's a ramshackle thing.

So let me tell you all about elliptical trainers and what they can do for you.

Elliptical trainer: what's that when it's at home?

Elliptical trainers are also aptly named 'crosstrainers'. They're stationary exercise machines, which is another way of saying: 'You won't be going anywhere.'

The defining elements of an elliptical trainer are:

  • Foot pedals

  • Rear fly wheel

  • Handle levers

Elliptical machines: how do they work?

You step on the foot pedals, grab hold of the handle levers, and you start to 'walk'. Easy peasy. Moving on an elliptical machine looks a lot like walking stairs, walking and running. The big difference with running is that an elliptical machine is easier on your body. Because your feet never leave the foot pedals, there's no bouncing and harsh landings.

This means elliptical machines are 'low impact'. That makes them a great alternative to running. Especially if you're suffering an injury, an elliptical machine may be a way to maintain your stamina.

What do elliptical machines do for your body?

Now we're getting to the good stuff! The part that it's all about: the benefit of exercising on an elliptical machine for your body. And the news is good: just about every muscle in your body is required to participate on an elliptical trainer. Even the ones who like to sit on the couch and watch tv all the time.

The elliptical trainer provides a workout for your:

  • Legs

  • Shoulders

  • Back

  • Stomach

  • Sides

  • Arms

And it's beneficial to your heart and lung function. In other words: Jackpot!

Burning the fat

Half an hour on an elliptical machine burns about the same amount of calories as half an hour or running does. Depending on how hard you're using your elliptical machine of course.

My elliptical trainer: Buffalo

My second hand elliptical trainer is from the brand Buffalo. The screen doesn't work, and there was no manual. Nor could I find a manual on the internet. Luckily using the elliptical trainer isn't all that difficult, and I figured it out on my own.

But it does start to wobble when I try to work up a sweat. So I have to admit: mine is not a very good elliptical trainer.

But it will do for now.

What to look for in a elliptical trainer?

I wóuld however like to buy a better quality crosstrainer sometime. But because I'm on a budget, it's kind of hard to find a good quality elliptical trainer that doesn't break my bank.

Here are some of the qualities to look for in a good elliptical trainer:

  • It doesn't wobble

  • There's a long period of guarantee

  • It can carry a minimum of 240 pounds

Work-outs on the elliptical trainer

The first time I stood on my elliptical trainer I thought: 'Now what?' Apparently I really need a training schedule. Left to my own devices it all seems so random and useless. Luckily I found this great video on youtube, providing me with a 32 minute workout that really makes me sweat.

The coach has the stern demeanor of a drill sergeant, and he talks like one.

'This is not a movie!' he says. 'Do this work-out, don't watch'.

Summing up: doing crosstraining with an elliptical trainer

I love the elliptical trainer! I really do. Even though mine isn't very good quality. But I love the fact that it's so easy to use, and that it's right here in our home.

How do you squeeze your crosstraining in? And can anyone recommend me a good quality elliptical trainer?


Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club said...

We used to belong to a fitness club, and I always used the elliptical trainer, because it felt good on my joints. Now driving to the club is out for the time in my day, so I just head out the door, and run up the hill in my neighborhood. I combine that with yoga dvd's and ballet classes I find on YouTube, and I'm getting back in shape fast. It feels great!

Gina Valley ( said...

I love using an elliptical trainer. That's always my first go to piece of equipment at the gym. It's such a good workout. The time seems to pass so quickly while I'm on it, and it is gentle on my knees.

Matilda said...

I use to have an elliptical. It was a base model, and I liked it, but it was noisy, and it got to the point, where the hard setting wasn't hard anymore. What do you expect from a cheap model.
It's gone now, I sold it.
Have you seen the elliptigo's? omg I so want of those, how cool are they!

Janelle said...

The elliptical is great for cross-training as a runner! Sometimes when you're training for a race it's natural to just focus on getting your miles in. It's so good for the body to cross train!

Susie (The Esthetic Goddess) said...

The elliptical is a kick butt cardio, for sure! My favorite thing to do is lift weights.

nicoleao said...

Lifting weights sounds awful to me. Though I do see the practicality of lifting weights. It's easy to do at home. And I would like the arms that go with lifting weights.

nicoleao said...

Thanks for saying this Janelle. I still often feel that the only real exercise is running. But crosstraining helps you to become a better runner.

nicoleao said...

I haven't seen the elliptigs but I'm going to check them out. Like you, I have a base model. I got it at a thrift shop. But I would love to get a cool one!

nicoleao said...

I don't know about time passing by quickly, but I'm sweating like a pig on it. So that's good! And I love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards.

nicoleao said...

Good for you Courtney! Sounds like you're really working your body all on your own. I love the way the internet provides us with opportunities to exercise without having to join a gym!

Michelle said...

Ok, you've convinced me to get back on the elliptical. I just started running (again) this week and really enjoyed your blog!

nicoleao said...

I like that Michelle! I'm glad I could inspire you. If I háve to do crosstraining, I really like the elliptical machine to do it on.

Five Things Friday said...

[…] while I’m watching myself on my elliptical trainer, I like to listen to ‘Sexy […]

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