Hey – You’re doing that wrong!

elliptical failI got out of my normal Sunday routine today, mainly due to oversleeping.  I had intended to get out to the gym before running my daughter to CCD at the local military base.  I hit the gym there, instead of my normal one.  It’s a smaller gym, but the intent today was just to get some intense cardio in, so it’d do.

The gym wasn’t particularly crowded, and I was able to get on a treadmill for a quick warmup before jumping on the elliptical for a hard 45 minutes.  I really wish I could just run, but…Achilles.  😦

Things went just fine – a little stiffness from the outset, which subsided after about 10 minutes.  About five minutes later, a guy got on the machine to my left and just started flailing away.  He was going hands-free, which is all well and good, but his arms were everywhere.  He put that thing on max incline, and commenced to bouncing wildly.  It was really something to see.

It was all I could do to keep from turning and asking him if he had any idea what he was doing.  I mean, even though he was bouncing away and sweating like a pig (which is fine – no judgement from me, a profuse sweater…), he was robbing himself of a better workout.

Here are some tips for proper use of an elliptical machine:

Good posture matters

Ideally, your trunk and head shouldn’t move laterally or vertically very much at all.  The following tips will help you keep good posture, which is key in isolating the muscle groups you want to work.

1) Place your feet as close as possible to the inside edge of the pedals.  The idea is to keep them aligned with your hips.  Placing them too far to the outside will cause unneeded horizontal movement.

2) Your legs should never reach full extension while on the elliptical.  Keeping them slightly bent will save your knees unnecessary strain, and properly isolate your quads and calves for exercise.  Not locking out your legs will also reduce the “bounce” effect.

3) Grip the bars lightly, at a level just below your shoulders.  A light grip is important, as holding them with a death grip will naturally hinder your pace.

4) Remember, your arms should only be used for pushing and pulling.  If you find yourself twisting, you’re likely pulling too much with your arms and not making your legs do their part.

5) Stand tall, with a slight forward lean.  You want to remain as close to vertical as possible.  This proper alignment will ensure all the muscle groups below are worked.

elliptical targeted muscles

If you’re using the proper posture, your head should bounce slightly, similar to how if would if you were running smoothly.  You wouldn’t run with your arms flailing about and with your head bobbing up to 6-8 inches per stride, right?  And you wouldn’t be twisting your back with each step?  So why in the world would you do that on an elliptical machine?

Just straighten up, smooth out your motion, and feel the burn!

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