Elliptical Machine Cons

By Robert Vaux

  • Overview

    Elliptical trainers are a popular form of exercise equipment that combine the movements of traditional treadmills with those of stair-climbers. Adherents love them because they are low impact and easy to use, and they exercise both the upper and lower body. While elliptical machines have many benefits, they also have some drawbacks--nothing dangerous or significant, but meriting a certain amount of consideration before you decide to invest in one.
  • Muscle Tone

    Elliptical machines are a great way to burn calories and engage in some basic toning. As a low-impact form of exercise, however, it's not very good at building muscles. The lack of intensity of an elliptical machine workout may make it more difficult for some exercisers to stick with it. Those hoping to bulk up or improve their overall strength would be better served by a different form of exercise.
  • Awkwardness

    The elliptical machine's ability to work out multiple parts of the body can be considered a drawback by exercisers who prefer simplicity. The combination of moves may be awkward or hard to get the rhythm of, making it seem unduly complex. A standard treadmill is usually much less of a hassle while still providing a good lower-body workout.


  • Expense and Bulk

    Elliptical machines are often more expensive than other forms of exercise equipment, with high-end models running as much as $2,000. Furthermore, they are often extremely bulky, taking up a great deal of space in the home and remaining difficult to move in case you want to use the space for something else. You can counter that by getting a membership in a gym that carries the machines, but for those who prefer to exercise at home, it's rarely a practical option.
  • Lack of Efficiency

    Though some elliptical trainers include arm attachments, they rarely work the arms and shoulders as effectively as rowing machines or cross-country skiing machines. The overall body workout is thus compromised in favor of focus on the torso and legs, which is fine by some, but not the best option for those hoping to receive an efficient total body workout. Furthermore, while an elliptical machine provides an effective exercise of the leg muscles, it still ranks only about 75 to 90 percent as effective as a straight-up running workout.
  • Lower-Back Problems

    Elliptical machines can place stress on your lower back if you have a tendency to lean forward or don't take steps to remain straight upright while you work out. It's not a serious concern, but for those with a history of lower-back problems, it may not be worth making the investment.
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