Fitness Question

At my local gym we have one of these machines. . For maximum calorie/fat burning, is it more beneficial to increase the machines resistance or incline? I generally keep the incline a few levels higher than the resistance, would it be more beneficial to even them out, or increase/decrease one while increasing/decreasing the other? I assume having both maxed out would be the most productive, but unfortunately I cannot sustain a workout for any length of time with both settings at their highest. In light of that, what is the best?

I would say for burning energy it would be resistance, and for cardio fitness it would be incline. Of course, which of those is better for weight loss is a matter of a small amount of debate.

You can do the best-of-both-worlds thing and do the Interval course, which alternates between low incline & high resistance / and high incline & low resistance. It’s one of the pre-programmed courses, so all you have to do is select it and go.

I really like it. Just as you’re thinking that you can’t take one more step, it switches to doing something different, and you get this burst of energy. According to the readout, the inteveral workout burns a ton of calories compared to other workouts on the same machine. (Of course those readouts are dubious at best, but I figger as long as you’re talking about the same machine, it’s apples to apples.) And my heart rate gets right up there, too.

Walking on an incline accomplishes both, plus limits stress to the knee typically associated with long-term running.

I sometimes do power walking on an 10-15 percent incline at 4.0 - 4.2 mph and, believe me, it will definitely get your heart in the target zone. According to the calorie meter (which is inexact, but provides a good idea), I burn about 800 - 900 calories per hour, doing it this way.

Ah, you are using an elliptical trainer. I use a treadmill. Some love the elliptical motion. It feels weird to me. YMMV.

There’s probably a right, theoretical answer to this question, but I’d have a hard time believing that it makes any practical difference. Just get on there and run.

I think more important than either is not putting your weight on your arms when you grab the handle bars for balance. I hate watching these girls take up the eliptical machines at my apt complex hunched over with ALL OF THEIR weight on their hands (while reading US WEEKLY and taking up valuable time on these precious machines).

I remember reading an article where they put people on stair-steppers and eliptical machines and monitored their heart rates. Even merely touching the handlebars will decrease your heartrate… putting your weight on them almost completely defeats the purpose of getting on the thing in the first place.

OK, I guess I didn’t realize how much that bothered me. Sorry.

That’s no good (the handlebars news). I need the handlebars for balance (little or no weight on arms, though). I get bored on the machines, my mind wanders, and I end up shifting my balances.

If you are really looking for a good all around workout, might I suggest the lawn 2005. My back yard is an incline (fairly steep) that you mow with a lawnboy walking back and forth across the slope. This targets the legs as well as the upper body, and gets the heart rate right up there. The front yard is flat, but there are numerous obstacles to negotiate around. Then, the weed wacker section targets the upper body exclusively. Best of all, there is a special currently if you would like to tackle this once a week.

Tom, is that you? Long time, no see.

  • Huck

I’m sure you understand that exercise is only a part of the fat loss puzzle. Diet is equally important and there is a wealth of information on both parts of the puzzle here:

The standard model for fat loss is that aerobic exercise is better than anaerobic exercise. However, the latest information is that intensity interval training that combines both is best.

The main reason you need to exercise while dieting is not for the calories that are burned by exercising itself, but by the effect that exercise has on your metabolism. If you diet without exercising, your metabolism will sow down to match your caloric intake. This can be a good thing if your crops have failed and your livestock has died and you are starving. This response will keep you alive. However, if you are trying to lose fat, this is not a good thing and so exercise is the best way to combat this natural body response. Exercise can not only keep your metabolism from dropping, the right kind of exercise can actually increase your basal metabolic rate. This means you burn more calories even while sleeping!

I use the method recommended by Ian King, one of the top trainers in the world. I use an exercise bike, but the equipment you use is more of a personal choice than anything else. In the intensity interval method, you work at 55% of maximum heart rate for 1 ½ minutes and then work at 85% of maximum heart rate for 30 seconds. Then back to 55% for 1 ½ minutes and then 85% for 30 seconds. You repeat this cycle 15 times for a total workout of 30 minutes. It sounds complicated but in practice it is very simple. You cruise along for 90 seconds and then go all out for 30 seconds. You only need to experiment a few times with your equipment and heart rate to get a feel for what level of resistance will put you in these heart rate ranges.

You can use the formula 200 minus your age to figure your maximum heart rate.

Great minds???