Elliptical Benefits for Runners #1: Active RecoveryRunning every day for many can lead to aches, pains and injuries. To prevent this, active recovery workouts are incorporated into a running program to provide a break from the high level of impact and vary the routine to maintain motivation. The elliptical is a powerful active recovery tool, as it emulates the running motion, but provides no impact on the body. It’s easy on the muscles, tendons and joints, and provides a low intensity workout which is key in optimal recovery, bridging the gap between running workouts.
Elliptical Benefits for Runners #2: Hill Climbing StrengthTraining with the elliptical’s incline feature will build strength in your fitness, as well as your gluteal and quadricep muscle groups. This is important as it will help build strength and stamina for running hilly courses, as well as reduce the risk of injuries related to having weak gluteal muscles. Climbing cross-training workouts are one of the best kept running secrets and a powerful tool for improving performance.
Elliptical Benefits for Runners #3: High Intensity WorkoutsAnother useful strategy is to use the elliptical for training at high intensities to improve fitness with less impact on the body. This is a great strategy for newer runners and those that are prone to running injuries. High intensity interval workouts include short 30 second to 2 minutes intervals at a high intensity, followed by easy effort recovery. They compliment easy effort runs, and provide an effective recipe for improving fitness, boosting metabolic rates and preparing runners to train harder.
Elliptical Benefits for Runners #4: Retro RunningRetro-elliptical training, meaning to move in a backward motion, is an easy to perform and highly effective strategy for strengthening the opposing muscles groups used in forward running (and elliptical), including your quads, calves and shins, and ultimately balances your quad-to-hamstring strength ratio. Many experts recommend a 60/40 quad-to-hamstring strength ratio for balanced strength, performance and function of the knee joint. Forward running can over-develop the hamstring muscle group and increase the risk of knee joint injuries. In essence, retro-elliptical movement is similar to hill running and strength training (squats and knee extensions) in that it develops a more balanced muscular system, which can reduce your risk from injuries due to muscle imbalance. A quick and easy Retro workout includes five minutes of forward elliptical followed by 6-8 intervals; 1-2 minutes of retro movement followed by 3 minutes of forward movement, and finished with 5 minutes of forward elliptical to cool down. Once you learn the movement, try increasing the resistance or incline for a greater challenge.
5. Efficient Injury RecoveryThe elliptical is a highly effective tool when coming back from an injury and will help a runner get back on track more readily. Because it is low impact, many runners can use the elliptical as a main training mode early in their recovery. Once they are cleared to start running again, I weave short minutes of running within an elliptical workout to test the waters safely, and then build the running time slowly as their body allows. This allows the runner to maintain fitness with a mode that is very similar to running, and also provides a regimen that builds their running gradually to prevent an injury recurrence.
6. Fitness Step Based WorkoutsOne of my favorite go-to workouts is the Step Based Workout where you plug in the number of steps you want to achieve, adjust your incline and resistance level, and then get in your goal steps. It makes the time go quickly, and you can easily sync it with ViaFit to your favorite apps like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal.
BONUS No. 7! Choose the Right EllipticalTo realize the benefits of elliptical training, you need to find the machine that’s right for you. It needs to have the right feel and be durable to stand up to repeated workouts. Coach Jenny uses the Elite E9 Elliptical by Horizon Fitness. It’s a solid machine from a brand you can trust. Check it out here. (Plus, it’s on sale now!)
Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.