Your Elliptical Is LYING To You

I might be the only woman in the world who didn’t know this, but the elliptical is a dirty rotten liar.

All through college, my sorority girl butt reported directly to the gym almost daily to do 30-60 minutes on the elliptical. It was my weapon of choice (against the calories I was drinking). Yet still, I managed to never lose weight, and sometimes, I’d gain. How was it possible? I wondered. If I was burning 600 calories a day on the elliptical and eating pretty healthy (albeit drinking probably 4,000 calories a week), how was I gaining?

Your Elliptical Is Lying To You | #fitness #workout #fit #exercise #tips

It’s because I was never burning 600 calories on the damn elliptical.

After college, I continued to choose the elliptical almost every time I went to the gym. Running is hard! That should have been a sign. If you aren’t really dying and sweating and if you don’t want to stop immediately, you probably aren’t working hard enough to lose significant weight (every person is different, but low intensity cardio doesn’t do much for me). And if we’re being honest, I’m pretty much always trying to lose 5lbs.

Fast forward to last month, when I bought a Polar Heart Rate Monitor. That’s when I discovered that my 40 minutes on the elliptical was burning NEXT TO NOTHING. I mean, 200 something calories but SO MUCH LESS than the elliptical tells me I’ve burned. It was consistently telling me I’d burned 500 calories or more!

How. Devastating.

So basically, I’m really glad that I bought a heart rate monitor because my workouts have gotten way more efficient. Yes, they’re harder but I had no idea that what I was doing was not doing much for me. Sure, something is better than nothing (and oh my gosh I’d rather do nothing). But the something I’m doing these days is working a lot better for me.

If you’re an elliptical devotee like myself, consider a heart rate monitor or make peace with the fact that the reason it feels easier than running is because it is actually easier.

Want to see what you’re burning on the elliptical? For me, this calculator is pretty accurate when I compare it to what my heart rate monitor tells me.

Happy Friday.

  • Yes! I discovered this too back in college. It kills me when I see girls (and guys) barely moving on the elliptical when the whole gym is filled with so much more that could actually be helpful! Even walking on the treadmill at a good incline does more than the elliptical! I love my Polar too– it has opened up my eyes to a lot about my workouts.

  • I usually stay away from cardiovascular machines in general and stick to the weights, but if I’m looking for something quick and efficient I do use them at the end of a workout. If you want the elliptical to burn more calories, try setting it at a high resistance and then going as fast as you can for 10-15 minutes. It will feel like you’re trudging through mud but it’s definitely more efficient.

  • I always wonder how they come up with those numbers. it drives me insane!! your posts are always so good, no matter the topic.

  • I hate this is probably true. I recently gave up on gym membership because I wasn’t motivated and I wasn’t seeing results at all. I probably won’t be going back to the gym but It’s kidna sad to think all that time and money was not really worth it. The weights did help a bit but not much.

  • WOW! Thank goodness I read this, I use this damn machine all the time. I used to run but that was hard so I stopped. What an idiot I am.

  • I did know this, unfortunately. Most of the time I don’t pay attention to those counters anyway. I know I can go on the elliptical and breeze through a ‘workout’ and not break a sweat, and other times i can go like a crazy elliptical woman and sweat so much its not cute.

  • Another thing I’ve read is that the elliptical movement (i.e. the same old movement for hours a week if you’re a devotee) is actually really bad for your body. Running can be that way too, though.

  • I can’t do low intensity cardio either. I know it doesn’t work but my goodness that’s a lot to be off! What’s the theory?!

  • What a great point!

  • I have been contemplating buying a monitor for a while now, simply because I know the machines at the gym aren’t accurate. But I also kinda like deceiving myself because “I worked my ass off” sounds so much more appealing than “eh, i did a little something.” Right?!

  • I never knew this! I always assumed that the elliptical wasn’t doing as much as I thought it was, but I never knew the difference was so big. Maybe I need to invest in one of those little heart rate monitors.

  • I knew those numbers were too good to be true. Where do they come up with those calculations??

  • Oh WOW …I never knew this! Thanks for the info…how crazy!

  • Ugh that is so annoying! That’s good that you bought the heart rate monitor so you can get a more accurate reading! And I agree, if it’s pretty easy, we’re probably not burning too many calories!

  • Hello There!
    I just stumbled upon your blog via Bloglovin’ and am now a follower! This post totally stood out to me because not only did I experience the same thing when it came to always running/jogging and somehow never seeing the scale change!

    I then learned from a couple pros that if you only do cardo and at the same speed/amount of time your body acclimates to it and will even start eating and rebuilding the muscle you are building and not burning the fat! Terrible right? Anywho… just thought I’d leave my little comment and say hi! 🙂

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