Daily Archives: November 26, 2010

Fitness Friday: “Ellipticizing”

Happy Fitness Friday friends!!

Today’s post is a slightly recycled post from August 24, 2009. But I think I’ve collected a handful of new readers since then (hi!) amongst my long-time followers (hi and thank you!).

I originally wrote the post on elliptical machines to point out the differences between the slew of cardio machines you’re confronted with at most gyms. To some people, an elliptical is just an elliptical. Well I am here to tell you they are all very different! Learning these differences will also help you find the machine that best suits you. I know, because that’s how it worked for me :)

We’ll start with the basics:

Rear Driven


I like to think of some ellipticals as almost a standing exercise bike. What I mean by this is that there is a wheel that spins based on the movement of your legs. On the rear drive elliptical, this is in the back. It’s meant to mimic running and walking without the high impact that strains your joints.


Front Driven


Because of patents on some of the ellipticals, other companies had to design their own. The wheel on this one is in the front. The main difference between this and the rear driven model is where your power comes from. On the rear driven model, you’ll notice you often lean backwards to force that wheel around. On this front driven machine, you’ll lean forward slightly. Your joints and muscles will respond a little differently and one will likely feel better than the other.


Center Driven


This is my personal favourite model. The motion here is coming from directly under your feet. Personally, I find the stride length on these machines matches my individual stride better. Finding a machine that matches your stride is key! Otherwise it will just feel awkward and could even hurt your joints.


Those are the basic elliptical designs and ones you’ll likely spot in your gym. There are however a few other kinds that offer different movements and resistance.


Precor Crossramp


A rear-driven machine with a “crossramp” in the front that moves up and down to add incline to the exercise. It’s almost like a smooth stair climbing motion. You also don’t get that slight bounce in the feet that you get on the other machines.


 Arc Trainer


TotalBodyArcJess 029

The arc trainer offers a slightly different motion, one I would compare more to skiing (or the Gazelle!) It’s supposed to take the pressure off your knees that happens on other ellipticals, with more work in the quads and glutes. This one also has an incline.


Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT)

Precor AMT 100i Elliptical Trainers 

This is probably the coolest elliptical I’ve tried yet. As someone with freakishly long legs, I have trouble finding machines that move well with my body. On this machine, you can make your strides as small or big as you want to. You can rotate your feet in that classic elliptical motion, swing them back and forth like the Arc trainer, or step up and down like on a stair climber! If you push yourself hard enough on this machine, you can get a great workout without getting bored.


It’s also worth mentioning that as a trainer, I prefer putting people on machines that move their arms as well. Your posture is better when you don’t have a stable surface to lean on. It’s more natural to get upper body movement in there, and it’s a great way to warm up your whole body and not just your legs.

Now that it’s getting cold and snowy, you may find yourself retreating to the gym more often. Hopefully this will help you tackle the cardio area with more confidence. And let’s face it, December is just around the corner. A little extra “ellipticizing” can’t hurt ;) Have fun!