The elliptical is one of the cardio fitness tools that has been successful in recent years, reaching a wide diffusion: it is now present in almost all commercial gyms.
Compared to other machines such as the stepper or the exercise bike, it has numerous advantages that can be exploited in a cardiovascular conditioning program, both in sports and trained subjects and in sedentary issues who instead seek an improvement in their physical performance standards.
It initially has the great advantage of involving all the body muscles directly and actively without the need for great coordination skills, unlike the rowing machine, where it is important to learn the exact body patterns in its use to avoid trauma and injuries.
The elliptical allows fluid and guided movement of a circular type in the lower limbs going to be inspired by what is the movement of the exercise bike, and on the transverse plane in an anteroposterior direction as regards the upper limbs, imitating the movement carried out by the arms in the free cross-country skiing technique.
The direct use of multiple muscle groups leads to undisputed advantages from muscle toning and the cardio-circulatory point of view.
In female subjects, training of this type, inserted in a training program with overloads, allows recruiting the types of muscle fibers in their entirety, allowing the development of good muscles at the expense of fat mass.
During the exercises on the elliptical, it is important to stay straight at the trunk and back level, avoiding bending forward, avoid pedaling backward because it is a type of movement that risks causing injuries in unaccustomed individuals. It is good to learn how to pedal forward better, and then you can switch to pedaling backward, which brings many advantages in the recruitment of the posterior thigh muscles.
It is also good to keep a constant pace for the duration of the exercise.
An advantage that must be considered is the zero impact on the joints. One of the problems in the approach to the world of fitness of overweight and obese subjects is the potential damage caused by excess weight on the joints. Especially if you begin to carry out a running program, which impacts the lower limbs, you risk creating osteoarticular damage in the person.
The exercise bike allows you to overcome this obstacle, but physical activity in a sitting position is not the best from a cardio-circulatory and muscular point of view. First of all, a person who probably spends most of his life sitting is important to start physical activity while standing. Muscle recruitment during the exercise bike only concerns the lower limbs.
The upright position allows to improve both the general parameters of the lungs, allowing the maximum development of the total lung capacity, which in elderly and overweight subjects decreases since the sitting position tends to raise the diaphragm and the abdominal organs, decreasing the ability to carry out efficient gas exchanges; it improves venous return mainly due to the stimulation of the plantar vault and of the muscles of the lower limbs which act as pumps pushing the venous blood towards the heart and reducing stasis at the peripheral level and therefore swelling and the sense of fatigue and weight.
Also, a standing person tends to develop the stabilizing muscles of the abdominal core.
One of the classic problems of the elderly and heavy subjects is back pain, often due to hypotonic postural muscles that do not allow to support the trunk and maintain the correct postural attitude, which often leads to postural dysmorphisms that in chronic cause pain also important and persistent, such as idiopathic low back pain, sciatica.
Training the abdominal core’s stabilizing muscles allows you to prevent this type of pain, thus improving the autonomy of future daily life.
The wide hip extension required by training on the elliptical also allows you to tone the gluteal muscles and stretch the hip flexor muscles, which tend to be retracted in many sedentary subjects who are in a position where the hip remains flexed for a long time.
The type of training to be performed with the elliptical must be evaluated together with a competent person who can know you or a doctor in case you suffer from any pathology.
However, it is suggested to do a short warm-up for 10 minutes at a slow pace to become familiar with the vehicle and increase body temperature. Then you move on to the actual training performed at 70% of your maximum heart rate for a time that can range from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the training level.
Afterward, it is good to perform a 5-minute cool-down and some muscle stretching exercises.