Shaping the out of shape

Its been awhile since i hit the gym. This weekend, I started again. Hittin the gym. Lifting the weights. Running on the treadmill. Giving myself shin splints. What I am wondering, is what the difference between the elliptical machine and the Treadmill. I burn more calories on the elliptical machine, but I was told the it has no resistance, and there for I should work on the treadmill. Which is better? Whats the difference? Besides looking like a puff on the elliptical machine?

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~ by lance1977 on March 3, 2008.

One Response to “Shaping the out of shape”

  1. If you’re getting shin splints, perform high-rep calf raises [seated and standing] using low to moderate loads [weights]. This will strengthen the muscles that are weak — it’s this weakness that causes shin splints. As for the “treadmill versus elliptical” question, here’s my two cents:

    (1) Your body provides resistance — so either one will offer a resistance training effect on your muscles. (2) Some elliptical machines [depends on the manufacturer and the brand] have a feature that allows a user to increase the resistance. (3) There is no “cut and dried answer” in regards to which unit burns more calories! Calories burned is a byproduct of intensity [how hard your systems are working during activity] and mass [how much a person weighs] and volume/ loads used [how much resistance is used or applies], etc. These vary from person-to-person and from activity-to-activity. And so, calories burned will also vary. (4)
    A person’s current level of conditioning also determines calories burned during an activity — people who are more fit burn fewer calories, because their systems are more efficient. Plus, those who are fit gain the maximum benefit from an activity — and usually avoid the pain and injuries that plague others. (5) The issue of one exercise being “better” than another depends on dozens of factors! For me personally, for example — as an athlete with superior conditioining — I do both the elliptical and treadmill and other cardio units; however, I prefer the treadmill because it enables me to work the same muscles I use in my sports and more important, allows me to work far harder than when on the elliptical. In other words, what you need to be aware of, is that just because an activity burns more calories does not mean the activity is better for you in terms of increasing your level of conditioning. There’s a difference and the discussion is quite complex and complicated. What’s more, if you run outside, running on the treadmill is far better for you than doing the elliptical. Because the elliptical is not a true weight bearing exercise, whereas running on a TM and outdoors is. I make this point because people who do the easier cardio exercises indoors, including the elliptical, then go outside and do things that are more strenous, such as running, often find themselves feeling out of energy and poorly prepared for those outdoor activities — despite having worked out on an elliptical for 60 minutes every day for months! The reason is because the elliptical activities do not tax the system to the extent that running does; and so a person will think they are fit, when in fact they are not as fit as they would and could be had they done more running on the TM and less elliptical work. These are things to bear in mind. But there are many other things also. Problem is, the other things are even more complex! As a professional trainer — and an exercise and sports physiologist, accredited personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach — with 18 years of experience working with others — and 30 years of personal experience with exercise — I offer two pieces of free advice:

    First, take what most people tell you with a grain of salt. Unless the person is a credentialed professional who walks their own talk [not only a trainer, but a trainer who is in exceptional shape and is conditioned consistent with what it is that you are wanting their professional input on], don’t rely too much, if at all, on what they may say. People mean well but lack the knowledge to back it up.

    Second, do what’s best for you and that which appeals to you. On some days, do the TM. On other days, do the E. On some days, do both in the same workout.

    One final thought. Most of my athletes love the elliptical. But if they use the elliptical “too much [more than I set forth]” at the expense of other activities — because the elliptical is easier and doesn’t make them work as hard as other cardio units and strength training, etc — I can see huge differences on the field, in terms of their athletic performance and energy level, and risk for injuries, aches and pains. There are reasons for this and these reasons are rooted in exercise sciences. Too complex to dive into here but if when I finish with my blog set-up, I will address everyhing under the sun that has to do with fitness and sports medicine, etc. My blog will be interactive, so you’ll be able to post questions. I’ll send you a link as a comment when its operational.

    This was a great question! Hope the above helps. ~Mac

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