Is the elliptical machine good?


This is a common question I get as a trainer. The answer … it depends on the individual and their fitness goals and current physiological condition. The first thing to consider is that the elliptical is a cardiovascular machine, so yes it will get your heart to elevate. The second thing to consider is the fact that it doesn’t follow a very natural pattern. Exercise is always best when it is functional. For example I don’t believe in the leg press as efficient time spent in the gym. How often is it important for us as humans to be on our backs pressing weight up with our legs?

The design of the elliptical is great for individuals who need to avoid ground reaction forces (GRF). Energy is constant so when we create energy by moving, every step we take will create energy that is absorbed into the ground and then pumped (reacted) back into our body. Depending on the individuals current musculo- skeletal integrity these ground reaction forces can be detrimental or positive. The elliptical is great in a physical therapy setting because it provides an easy progression of GRF’s for an individual recovering from injury. My suggestion is that people with a healthy musculo-skeletal system use other more natural or specific means of cardiovascular exercise to challenge the body to reach a higher level of integrity. As humans without equipment we swim,walk, jog, run, sprint, and step up. My advice would be to train and prepare our musculo-skeletal system to endure and exceed the demands of daily life …whatever they may entail for the individual.