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Is doing cardio on the elliptical pointless?

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  • Is doing cardio on the elliptical pointless?

    I am so used to conventional wisdom that you have to do 45 minutes of cardio in order to burn calories and get in shape. I have always been a huge runner until I got an injury that has prevented me from running.

    So in the meantime I have been doing the mountain climber elliptical 5-6 times a week 45 minutes, but honestly have not noticed ANY change in my body composition.

    I know mark talks about steady cardio, but I haven't exercised in two months due to an injury so I thought doing cardio would start to help me get in shape.

    Should I be doing weight training/resistance training instead?

    i'm 5'6 112 pounds, a little skinny/fat right now. Am not necessarily looking to lose weight, but would like lower fat percentage, more definition in stomach and arms.

  • #2
    You can't add muscle without giving it a reason to grow. The only reason it will grow is if you ask more of it than you did before. Just hopping up and down on an elliptical doesn't really ask it for more. It just gives it what it's always gotten and then it adapts and nothing happens.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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    • #3
      Muscle will shrink if you chronically restrict calories because it's high maintenance.

      Exercising will give your body a reason to maintain muscle provided you are not on a low calorie diet.
      F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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      • #4
        I'd say the way you are doing it is pointless. I use ellyptical a lot for cardio because it is easy on my knees and lower back, but I do it at a high intensity for 15-20 minutes. When I was losing weight when I first started the primal lifestyle, sprint intervals on the ellyptical helped me drop 60 pounds. Intensity is the key.

        On the other hand, yes, you do need strength training as well. Combining the two is a very powerful prescription for fat loss.
        "Suffer no guilt yee who wield this in the name of Crom"
        Quote on the Father's Sword

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        • #5
          I do Sprint 8 on a recumbent bike and I feel like it does wonders. I agree 100% with the comment above. High intensity, low volume is the key to all exercise whether it is "cardio" or strength training.

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          • #6
            The eliptical is one of the most useless things in the gym. I hate people going on that thing trying to lose fat. Mite as well go sit on the sitdown recumbant bike and go at a snails pace while you read your kindle.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Kingofturtles View Post
              The eliptical is one of the most useless things in the gym. I hate people going on that thing trying to lose fat. Mite as well go sit on the sitdown recumbant bike and go at a snails pace while you read your kindle.
              An elliptical is just a tool. It can be a great tool if you use it correctly. Same for a bike, recumbent bike, treadmill, stair stepper or any other piece of equipment.

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              • #8
                Try some moderate barbell complexes to keep your HR up
                SixStringStrength.com

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                • #9
                  Math: the average man burns about 100-125 calories per mile. Women even less. There are ~3500 calories in a pound of fat. Assuming 100 calories per mile a person would have to walk 35 miles to burn off the calories equivalent to 1 pound. To burn off 20 pound would mean walking 700 miles.

                  It not efficient to try and loose weight through doing exercise. I actually know a couple of fat postal workers that get paid to walk a daily route. An hour of daily walking is nothing for them.

                  While having more muscle burns more calories even at reast diet is still the most important factor
                  Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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                  • #10
                    it's not totally pointless, but is sure does suck. as for body composition, no chance of gaining lean mass through 45 minutes of cardio, 5 days a week. you'll burn calories, but don't expect to look particularly good from it.

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                    • #11
                      The elliptical trainer is a great tool for improving your cardiovascular system. Yeah, I know the heart isn't as sexy as beach abs or a slim waist line, but I believe it at least deserves some attention. I mean, one in four of us can expect to die from heart disease...
                      Yeah, my grammar sucks. Deal with it!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kharnath View Post
                        The elliptical trainer is a great tool for improving your cardiovascular system. Yeah, I know the heart isn't as sexy as beach abs or a slim waist line, but I believe it at least deserves some attention. I mean, one in four of us can expect to die from heart disease...
                        That line of thought is so CW. Yes it can be a tool for that. The truth is though that what is constantly referred to as "cardio" is really not. It is aerobic exercise because it is carried out at a low enough intensity to be done for long duration. High intensity exercise such as brief, very intense weight training is far more taxing to the cardio vascular system, thus a far better workout for it. Sprint type intervals are far more taxing than any steady state training, thus much more productive. The heart is a muscle like any other in this regard. Would you strengthen your muscles better moving very light weights for hours a week or much heavier weights a few times a week?

                        I'm not saying that aerobic work is useless. Its good to move and be active. There are benefits. But real cardio training is training that is intense and brief in duration. Brief because you really couldn't do more.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Forever Young View Post
                          Sprint type intervals are far more taxing than any steady state training, thus much more productive. The heart is a muscle like any other in this regard. Would you strengthen your muscles better moving very light weights for hours a week or much heavier weights a few times a week?
                          Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can do high intensity interval training on elliptical trainers too?
                          Yeah, my grammar sucks. Deal with it!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kharnath View Post
                            Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can do high intensity interval training on elliptical trainers too?
                            Right, I guess I should state that I mix it up, I put the intensity up to 11 and the angle (if thats the right word?) up to 20, climb that for 2 minutes and then back to 7, and angle 17 for 3 minutes. This is effective interval training isnt it? With resistance doesnt that build muscle? I do yoga as well, pushups and planks but definitely could tone up a bit more. I guess I am a little intimidated by the machines at the gym

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by VeggieLover View Post
                              Right, I guess I should state that I mix it up, I put the intensity up to 11 and the angle (if thats the right word?) up to 20, climb that for 2 minutes and then back to 7, and angle 17 for 3 minutes. This is effective interval training isnt it? With resistance doesnt that build muscle? I do yoga as well, pushups and planks but definitely could tone up a bit more. I guess I am a little intimidated by the machines at the gym
                              It probably won't build muscle unless you're very unfit, and you probably won't lose fat either unless you're in a calorie deficit. But that doesn't mean the elliptical trainer is pointless.

                              Progressive resistance training, diet, consistency and patience are the tools you need to improve your body composition.
                              Yeah, my grammar sucks. Deal with it!

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