Last week I posted some pictures of our new elliptical trainer. After a few sessions I can report without a doubt this machine can deliver everything from a mild intensity fat burning workout to a serious lung busting beat down of the cardiovascular system.
I spent the first week on this machine getting a feel for the mechanics of operation and testing the parameters of resistance and incline available.
Listed across the control panel below the screen are eleven pre-programmed workouts each further refined by data input by the user such as duration, body weight, intensity level or target wattage produced. Some of the programs use a combination of alternating high resistance and easy recovery periods all controlled by the microprocessor to provide a structured interval workout. One of my favorite programs is called "Constant Watts". After loading my weight and target watts using the keyboard the machine chooses a resistance level that allows me to maintain a steady jogging like movement. The computer brain then monitors power output and makes adjustments to the resistance level as necessary to maintain the desired work load based on watts of power.
The control panel display allows the user to monitor performance in three different scales. Watts, distance and heart rate. The inner non-moving handles contain pulse sensors that provide a reading to the computer which in turn calculates an average heart rate. The instructions note not to grasp the handles too tightly or increased blood pressure can skew the reading. Although not as accurate as a chest strap mounted sensor providing data to a heart rate monitor I have found this built in system to be comparable to conventional hear rate monitors I have used.
I am not a serious athlete by any means but I think it is fun to watch the numbers. On the elliptical display I can clearly observe my heart rate gradually increase as my workout progresses even while maintaining a constant power output. The attractive back lit LCD screen and large segmented LED displays allow at a glance updates of the aforementioned statistics.
Day 1 Program: Mellow Johnny's Trail (medium intensity intervals)
Duration: 30 minutes
Distance: 3.28 miles
Day 2 Program: Max Cardio (high intensity intervals with incline)
Duration: 45 minutes
Distance: 4.03 miles
Resistance Level: 4 alternating 3-9
Incline: alternating 40-75% of range
Max Heart Rate: 176 bpm
Max Watts: 157
Day 3 Program: Constant Watts (steady state)
Duration: 45 minutes
Distance: 4.23 miles
Resistance Level: counting down during session 4, 3, 2
Heart Rate: 145 bpm after warm up - 165 bpm at completion
Day 4 Program: Constant Watts (steady state)
Duration: 60 minutes
Distance: 5 miles
Resistance Level: 1
Heart Rate: 140 bmp after warm up - 150 bpm at completion
Because I had chosen such a small target wattage for the day 4 workout the resistance level stayed at 1 and no progressive count down of resistance was experienced even though my heart rate steadily increased over the hour of effort.
It is also interesting to note that Resistance levels range from 1 to 20. A person much bigger and stronger than I could still be easily challenged by this machine. At level 17 the exertion required just to keep the flywheel turning quickly rocketed my heart rate up to near maximum levels.
Each workout was followed with my regular strength training routines comprised of a mixture free weights and cable based exercises.