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elliptical vs. treadmill?

I am/was a runner (ran track for high school and college), but I have had 2 stress fractures in my ankle in a year, so my doctor has recommended I not run anymore.  I have been doing the elliptical and realize that it won't be the same workout and resistance I would get if I was running outside, but does anyone know how they really compare?  For the past couple of weeks I have tried to do some workouts for an hour and I can usually go about 7 miles in that time.  I would like to do some interval training, but when I try to do it based on speed, I think I am going to make the machine break on the sprint part because it shakes so much. So should I just change difficulty/resistance for the "sprint" part instead?  Any good workouts for the elliptical? I am trying to lose weight and so have been eating  A LOT better too, trying to track my calories in LoseIt! on my iphone, going on the elliptical 5-6 times a week, but I am not seeing any weight loss or size changes just yet. Thanks for any help!

Re: elliptical vs. treadmill?

  • I don't find the elliptical the best of workouts, personally. You have to really crank up the resistance, IMO, to get the workout up to par with running. Have you considered swimming? Biking? Spinning? Step? Etc? There's so many different exercises out there maybe a completely new exercise would help jump start your weight loss and ease the transition from running.
  • I had to give up running after I injured my back and was really reluctant to switch to the elliptical.  However, after a transition period, I got used to it and now like it quite a bit.  I was very concerned about it not being as good a workout, but I lost no ground (and gained no weight, although that is a function of what you eat anyway).

    The best way to make an elliptical workout challenging is to crank up the resistance.  I've created workouts that were darn near impossible and definitely were as challenging, if not more so, than some of the runs I used to do.  It's really a matter of challenging yourself because it can be easy to use low-resistence settings and just sort of float through a workout.  I actually find higher-resistence workouts to be more pleasant because the machine doesn't shake as much!

  • I have always found it easier to get intensity on a bike vs. elliptical.  I am not shy about saying I don't like elliptical either.  I used to use it all the time in the winters when I couldn't run, but found it gave me knee problems (go figure) and I just couldn't quite get the resistance/speed hard enough to mimic running workouts.  So when I can't run, I always opt for the bike.

    In terms of losing weight, its tough love, but usually if you aren't losing you are eating too much.  Using a tracking program is a great start, but its still possible to underestimate what you are eating if you are recording too little.  I suggest a food scale to get a handle on portions.  Exercise for health, and diet (what you eat and how much) for fat loss.

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  • I prefer the elliptical because it isn't as hard on your joints as the treadmill is.  Some ellipticals have workout settings - where you can do cross training, hills, random, etc.   You may need to alter the resistance throughout your workout.  The shaking would scare me too!  Oh and in my experience, it always takes me a few weeks to get into the hang of new eating/working out regimes before I see any weight loss.
  • Sorry to hear about your injuries. Stress fractures are so frustrating because all you can do is rest.

    I like mixing running and the elliptical. I vary the incline and wear a heart rate monitor to makesure I'm working hard enough on the elliptical. You can still get a great workout on it.

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  • I used to run a lot but my ankles are just in too bad a shape to do that anymore. I tried really hard to like the elliptical, but I just can't stand it. I walk on the treadmill at a pretty good clip and crank up the incline and it's a great workout! Definitely try it for some variety! I usually do intervals of like 4 minutes at a pretty high incline, 1 minute flat. I keep the speed the same throughout. But obviously you can vary this a million ways.
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