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The Effects Of Ellipical Cross Training on VO2 max in Recently Trained Runners

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This study examined the effects of elliptical cross training on VO2max in recently-trained runners. 12 female and 8 male participants (mean  SD; age = 23.70  6.33 years, body mass index = 24.85  5.89 kg/m2) completed an initial four-week run training program, exercising four days/week, 30 minutes/day, at 80% maximal heart rate. VO2max was predicted based on the duration of a Bruce graded-maximal treadmill test (GXT) prior to and after the run training. After initial training phase and post-test, subjects volunteered for the detrain group (n = 6) or were assigned to the run (n = 7) or elliptical (n = 7) based on a matched-pair design. Elliptical and run groups exercised three weeks under same prescription as initial program. GXT again performed after mode-specific training phase. VO2max (ml/kg/min) increased (p < 0.001) from the pre-training (39.89  10.74) to post-training (41.66  10.90) after the initial run training program. Although not statistically significant, VO2max declined (0.8% running, 1.5% elliptical, and 4.8% detraining) for all groups following the additional mode-specific program. Despite declines, repeated measures ANOVA showed no significant differences within or between groups before and after the mode-specific training phase. However, dependent sample t-test did reveal a decline (p < 0.05) in GXT time (minutes) for the detrain group from before (11.01  2.80) and after (10.54  2.72) their detrain phase. Future research should determine if elliptical exercise maintains VO2max when away from running for longer periods. KEY WORDS: Elliptical, VO2max, Run, Cross Train
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Original Research
The Effects of Elliptical Cross Training on VO
2max in Recently
Trained Runners
DUSTIN P. JOUBERT1†, GARY L. ODEN2, & BRENT C. ESTES2
1Texas A&M University; Department of Health and Kinesiology; 2Sam Houston
State University; Department of Health and Kinesiology
†Denotes graduate student author, ‡Denotes professional author
ABSTRACT
Int J Exerc Sci 4(1) : 4-12, 2011. This study examined the effects of elliptical cross training on
VO2max in recently trained runners. 12 female and 8 male participants (mean ± SD; age = 23.70 ±
6.33 years, body mass index = 24.85 ± 5.89 kg/m2) completed an initial four-week run training
program, exercising four days/week, 30 minutes/day, at 80% maximal heart rate. VO2max was
predicted based on the duration of a Bruce graded-maximal treadmill test (GXT) prior to and
after the run training. After initial training phase and post-test, subjects volunteered for the
detrain group (n = 6) or were assigned to the run (n = 7) or elliptical (n = 7) based on a matched-
pair design. Elliptical and run groups exercised three weeks under same prescription as initial
program. GXT again performed after mode-specific training phase. VO2max (ml/kg/min)
increased (p < 0.001) from the pre-training (39.89 ± 10.74) to post-training (41.66 ± 10.90) after the
initial run training program. Although not statistically significant, VO2max declined (0.8%
running, 1.5% elliptical, and 4.8% detraining) for all groups following the additional mode-
specific program. Despite declines, repeated measures ANOVA showed no significant
differences within or between groups before and after the mode-specific training phase.
However, dependent sample t-test did reveal a decline (p < 0.05) in GXT time (minutes) for the
detrain group from before (11.01 ± 2.80) and after (10.54 ± 2.72) their detrain phase. Future
research should determine if elliptical exercise maintains VO2max when away from running for
longer periods.
KEY WORDS: Elliptical, VO2max, Run, Cross Train
INTRODUCTION
The risks and incidence of injuries due to
distance running have been well
established (13, 16, 20). Research indicates
that overuse is the most common cause of
running injury (26). Many injuries, such as
stress fractures, may prevent an individual
from running until completely recovered.
Because a decline in physiological fitness
and running performance will occur in the
absence of running, cross training exercise
is an option to attempt to maintain fitness
while injured (8, 15). While different
modes of cardiovascular exercise have been
compared to running in the past, little
research exists on the benefits of an
elliptical exercise training program.
Elliptical exercise machines provide an
upright, non-impact, weight bearing form
of aerobic exercise, similar to the running
motion, as the lower body moves in a
smooth, elliptical path on a set track (2).
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The impact forces on the lower extremity,
while elliptical training, were found to be
equivalent to walking and less than half
that of running (23). The low impact forces
of elliptical exercise may make it a feasible
training option for many running injuries.
Several studies (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 21, 23, 24,
25, 27) have looked at the effects of an
individual bout of elliptical exercise
compared to treadmill running, but few
studies (9) have looked at elliptical exercise
as part of an actual training program.
Cardiorespiratory endurance, determined
by an individual’s maximum ability to
consume oxygen (VO2max), is a significant
health component to fitness because it is
inversely related to premature death (17).
Additionally, a high VO2max increases
physical work capacity or the ability to
produce a large quantity of energy over a
prolonged period of time. Furthermore,
VO2max is significantly correlated with
running performance, especially in
heterogeneous groups of people (18). The
purpose of this study was to determine the
effectiveness of an elliptical exercise-
training program in maintaining
cardiorespiratory fitness, particularly
VO2max, in recently trained runners.
It was hypothesized that an initial 4-week
run-training program would significantly
improve VO2max in the first phase of the
study. In the second 3-week phase of
training, the elliptical and run training
groups were expected to maintain or
improve fitness in an equivalent manner,
while a detraining group was expected to
show a decline in fitness. This study
furthered the knowledge base on the
cardiorespiratory benefits of elliptical cross
training exercise by determining the ability
of elliptical training to sustain or improve
maximal oxygen consumption in recently
trained runners. These findings can be
applied to healthy adults attempting to
improve cardiorespiratory fitness, as well
as beginning runners attempting to
maintain or improve fitness through a
cross-training program.
METHODS
Subjects
Twelve female and 8 male participants
(mean ± SD; age = 23.70 ± 6.33 years, height
= 1.71 ± .10 m, weight = 74.8.86 ± 20.34 kg,
body mass index = 24.85 ± 5.89 kg/m2,
percent body fat = 21.37 ± 11.02%)
completed all training and testing
requirements. Subjects were recruited from
kinesiology classes and the recreational
sports facility at a regional university in the
southwest. All subjects participated on a
completely voluntary basis, and students
from kinesiology classes were not offered
class credit or extra credit for participation
in the study. Qualified participants
included individuals with access to the
Recreational Sports Facility that also met
ACSM guidelines for low risk, apparently
healthy individuals (1). Participants
completed a study application that
RESULTS
Phase I
Results of the pre-test measurements and the first post-test (four weeks) for the group as a
whole are presented in Table 1. VO2max was predicted based on total time (minutes) during
the Bruce Protocol treadmill test (4). The following equation from (10) was used to predict
VO2max: VO2max = 14.76 - 1.38 (time) + 0.451 (time)2 - 0.012 (time)3. There were significant
improvements (p ! 0.001) between the initial and Post-Test I assessments for both the duration
of the Bruce treadmill test and for predicted VO2max, which confirmed the researcher’s
hypothesis. VO2max changes from Pre-Test to Post-Test I are also presented in Figure 1.
Table 1
Phase I Testing Characteristics
Data shown as Mean ± SD.
* p value ! 0.001 between Pre-Test and Post-Test I
Summary details of the initial four week run training phase are shown in Table 2. Subjects
were required to complete at least 75% (12 of 16) of the prescribed runs over the four week
period in order to advance to the post-test and second phase of training.
Table 1. Physical Testing Characteristics
(n = 20)
Pre-Test
Post-Test I
Weight (kg)
74.80 ± 20.34
74.55 ± 20.25
BMI (kg/m2)
24.85 ± 5.89
24.85 ± 5.97
Body Fat (%)
21.37 ± 11.02
20.66 ± 11.95
Bruce (min)
11.32 ± 2.69*
11.77 ± 2.69*
VO2
(ml/kg/min)
39.89 ± 10.74*
41.66 ± 10.90*
Max HR (bpm)
189.75 ± 9.00
190.30 ± 8.43
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identified their current activity level and
training availability. Subjects also
completed a Physical Activity Readiness
Questionnaire (PAR-Q), AHA/ACSM
Health/Fitness Facility Pre-participation
Screening Questionnaire, and signed an
informed consent form. The study protocol
was approved by the Protection of Human
Subjects Committee at the University where
the data was collected.
Testing Protocol
After subject selection, pre-testing included
an initial body composition assessment
with the BodPod (Life Measures Inc.,
Concord, CA). Additionally,
cardiorespiratory endurance was evaluated
with a graded maximal exercise test on a
Quinton Treadmill (Cardiac Science Corp.,
Hannover, Germany) using the Bruce
Protocol (4). All subjects attained a
maximal heart rate within ten beats of their
age predicted maximum to meet criteria for
maximal volitional exhaustion. Due to
malfunctions with the lab’s metabolic cart
at the time of the study, maximal oxygen
consumption was estimated from the
duration of the Bruce test by using the
following predictive equation by Foster et
al. (10): VO2max = 14.76 - 1.38 (time) + 0.451
(time)2 - 0.012 (time)3. This was a
generalized equation that was developed
for use in cardiac patients as well as
healthy, sedentary and active individuals,
making it a good match for subjects in the
present study. This equation was
previously shown to have a correlation
coefficient of 0.97 when compared with
direct measurement of VO2max (10).
Additionally, maximal heart rate (Sigma
Sport PC-14 Heart Rate Monitor: Sigma
Sport USA, Batavia, IL) and total time were
recorded from the maximal exercise tests.
This testing protocol was repeated after
four and seven weeks. Subjects were given
24-72 hours for recovery following their last
training session prior to subsequent tests;
however, there were no further controls on
recovery within this given time range.
Training Protocol
The initial training phase lasted four weeks,
and all subjects were directed to exercise at
the same target training frequencies,
relative intensities, and durations while
running on a Precor 932i Series Treadmills
(Precor Inc., Woodinville, WA). The
training program consisted of 30 minutes of
running for 4 days per week at an average
intensity of 80% the maximal heart rate
achieved during the initial Bruce test. Heart
rate monitors were used to record the
average heart rate for each training session
over the 30-minute workout. Following
each exercise bout, subjects recorded their
average heart rate and the duration of the
session, along with the distance ran.
Successful completion of the initial four
week running program required the
subjects to complete at least 75% of the
prescribed workouts, which corresponded
to at least 3 runs/week and 12 runs over the
entire training phase. An increased
frequency of weekly training sessions
improves VO2max, but there is a plateau in
these gains beyond 3 days per week (22).
For this reason, and in order to maximize
the sample, subjects that completed 3-4
sessions per week were included. Subjects
who did not complete 75% of the required
workouts were dropped from the study.
After subjects completed the initial four
week running program, VO2max and body
composition were again assessed using the
same protocol as the pre-test. Subjects were
then placed into one of three training
groups (run, elliptical, detrain) for the
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remainder of the study. Subjects
volunteered to be in the detraining group (n
= 6), while the remaining subjects were
assigned to the elliptical (n = 7) and
running (n = 7) groups based on a match
pair design. Subjects who were to be
assigned to the run or elliptical groups
were ranked from highest VO2max to the
lowest, and every two individuals down
the list were randomly assigned to either
the elliptical or run group. All elliptical
training was performed on Octane Pro4500
Ellipticals (Octane Fitness, Brooklyn Park,
MN). The elliptical and run training groups
continued to exercise for an additional
three weeks at the same frequency (four
days/week), relative intensity (80%
maximum heart rate), and duration (30
minutes). The third group ceased all aerobic
exercise training to serve as a sedentary
control and demonstrate the effects of
detraining. Following this second phase of
training, all subjects completed a final
assessment of VO2max and body
composition using the protocol performed
during the pre-test and mid-test.
Statistical Analysis
Means and standard deviations for subjects’
height, weight, body mass index, body fat
percentage, age, duration of maximal Bruce
Protocol test, predicted VO2max, and
maximum heart rate were reported for the
pre-test and at four, and at seven weeks.
After the initial phase of run training,
pretest values for weight, body mass index,
body fat percentage, duration of maximal
Bruce Protocol test, predicted VO2max, and
maximum heart rate were compared to the
four week assessment using a t-test for
dependent samples. A p-value equal to or
less than 0.05 was accepted as significant.
These same values were compared within
training groups (running, elliptical, and
detraining) between the four week and
seven week assessments. Between groups
comparisons for the four week and seven
week assessments were made using
repeated measures analysis of variance
(MANOVA). Average number of workouts
for each training phase, relative heart rate
intensities, duration, distance run, and
running pace were reported for both phases
of training. In the final three week training
phase, these workout variables were
compared between the elliptical and
running groups using a t-test for
independent samples. All statistical
analyses were performed with the
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
version 15.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL).
RESULTS
Phase I
Results of the pre-test measurements and
the first post-test (four weeks) for the group
as a whole are presented in Table 1.
VO2max was predicted based on total time
(minutes) during the Bruce Protocol
treadmill test (4). The following equation
from (10) was used to predict VO2max:
(n = 20)
Mean ± SD
Total Runs
13.80 ± 1.47
Duration (min)
29.91 ± 0.40
% Max HR
82.75 ± 4.23
Distance (miles)
2.64 ± 0.58
Pace (min/mile)
11.84 ± 2.59
Pace (miles/hr)
5.30 ± 1.13
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VO2max = 14.76 - 1.38 (time) + 0.451 (time)2
- 0.012 (time)3. There were significant
improvements (p 0.001) between the
initial and Post-Test I assessments for both
the duration of the Bruce treadmill test and
for predicted VO2max, which confirmed the
researcher’s hypothesis. VO2max changes
from Pre-Test to Post-Test I are also
presented in Figure 1.
Summary details of the initial four week
run training phase are shown in Table 2.
Subjects were required to complete at least
75% (12 of 16) of the prescribed runs over
the four week period in order to advance to
the post-test and second phase of training.
Phase II
A comparison of Post-Test I and Post-Test II
is provided in Table 3. Following the three
week phase of the mode specific training,
there was a decline in VO2max of 0.8%,
1.5% and 4.8% for the run, elliptical, and
detraining groups, respectively. A t-test for
dependent samples for each group did not
reveal any significant changes, although the
decline in predicted VO2max for the
detraining group demonstrated a trend
towards significance (p = 0.056). There was
a significant decline in Bruce treadmill time
for the detraining group (p = 0.045).
A repeated measures ANOVA was used to
analyze the change in means between Post-
Test I and Post-Test II variables among the
elliptical, run, and detraining groups.
Thus, Post-Test I VO2max to Post-Test II
VO2max was used as a within subjects
factor and mode of exercise was used as the
between subjects factor. When comparing
changes in VO2max between the three
modes, the repeated measures ANOVA
found no significant differences (p = 0.296,
df = 2, F = 1.307). The changes in VO2max
between Post-Test I and Post-Test II for
each group are displayed in Figure 2.
Table 3. Comparison of Post-Test I and Post-Test II
Run (n = 7)
Elliptical (n = 7)
Detrain (n = 6)
PT-I
PT-II
PT-I
PT-II
PT-I
PT-II
BMI (kg/m2)
25.57
± 6.95
25.43
±6.60
23.57
± 3.15
23.57
± 3.15
25.50
± 7.87
25.33
± 7.87
Body Fat (%)
21.33
± 11.10
22.34
± 11.42
16.27
± 10.20
17.62
± 10.24
24.98
± 14.84
22.32
± 13.80
Bruce (min)
11.52
± 2.83
11.46
± 2.59
12.66
± 2.63
12.49
± 2.48
11.01*
± 2.80
10.54*
± 2.72
VO2(ml/kg/min)
40.67
± 11.50
40.34
± 10.66
45.17
± 10.89
44.50
± 10.36
38.70
± 11.02
36.82
± 10.47
Max HR (bpm)
191.57
± 9.43
191.57
± 9.24
185.71
± 6.26
183.00
± 7.48
194.17
± 8.16
195.17
± 8.11
Note. Data shown as Mean ± SD.
PT-I (Post-Test I), PT-II (Post-Test II), * p value ! 0.05 within group.
A summary of Training Phase II is provided in Table 4. Subjects in the training
groups were required to complete at least 80% (10 of 12) of the prescribed
workouts. There were no significant differences in training frequency, intensity,
or duration between the elliptical and run groups when analyzed with a t-test for
independent samples.
*p value < 0.001 between Pre-test and Post-Test 1
Summary details of the initial four week run training phase are shown in
Table 2. Subjects were required to complete at least 75% (12 of 16) of the
prescribed runs over the four week period in order to advance to the post-test
and second phase of training.
Figure 1. Mean VO2max (± SD) before and after 4 weeks run
training (n = 20).
± 11.50
Max HR (bpm)
191.57
± 9.43
191.57
± 9.24
185.71
± 6.26
183.00
± 7.48
194.17
± 8.16
195.17
± 8.11
Note. Data shown as Mean ± SD.
PT-I (Post-Test I), PT-II (Post-Test II), * p value ! 0.05 within group.
A summary of Training Phase II is provided in Table 4. Subjects in the training
groups were required to complete at least 80% (10 of 12) of the prescribed
workouts. There were no significant differences in training frequency, intensity,
or duration between the elliptical and run groups when analyzed with a t-test for
independent samples.
Figure 2. Mean VO2max (± SD) in recently-trained runners
before and after 3 weeks additional training.
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Tukey’s Post-Hoc test also found no
significant differences among one mode to
any other for any of the measured
variables. In summary, there was a
significant decline in the Bruce treadmill
time for the detraining group only.
However, when comparing all three modes
for each repeated measure variable in Post-
Test I and Post-Test II, there were no
significant differences found, which
contradicted the researchers’ initial
hypothesis.
A summary of Training Phase II is
provided in Table 4. Subjects in the
training groups were required to complete
at least 80% (10 of 12) of the prescribed
workouts. There were no significant
differences in training frequency, intensity,
or duration between the elliptical and run
groups when analyzed with a t-test for
independent samples.
DISCUSSION
This study analyzed the effectiveness of an
elliptical exercise-training program in
maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness,
particularly VO2max, in recently-trained
runners. The design of this training study
intended to provide initial improvements in
VO2max for all subjects through a four
week training program with a common
modality (running). This allowed for
application of the present study to beginner
runners. The changes in cardiorespiratory
fitness, following mode specific exercise
(run, elliptical, detrain), were then analyzed
in phase two of the study.
The initial four week training phase did
yield significant improvements in VO2max.
Other training studies (9) comparing
elliptical and running modes of training fail
to account for the expected initial
improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness
that might occur with any aerobic training
program that is recently introduced to a
relatively sedentary group, regardless of
modality. The present study accounted for
this initial training stimulus by requiring all
subjects to begin a run training program
prior to comparing separate modes. This
design allows for analysis of the ability to
maintain or further improve fitness through
various modes of training.
Phase two of the training resulted in no
significant differences between the changes
in VO2max, or any other variable, across the
three training groups from Post-Test I to
Post-Test II. The detraining group did
show a larger decline in VO2max (4.8 %)
compared to the running group (0.8%) and
elliptical group (1.5%). While all groups
declined in VO2max, only the decline of the
detraining group neared significant values
(p = 0.056). These changes were expected
based on previous detraining research by
(14). As a whole, the repeated measures
ANOVA yielded no significant changes in
VO2max due to mode of exercise. Given
the PT-I VO2max values, there were some
concerns that the groups being compared
were not identical. Despite the matched-
pair design in assigning the elliptical and
running groups, the elliptical group
appeared to have a higher VO2max (45.17
ml/kg/min) compared to the running
group (40.67 ml/kg/min) and detraining
Table 4. Phase II Training Characteristics
Run Group (n = 7)
Elliptical Group (n = 7)
Total Workouts
10.71 ± 1.11
10.71 ± 1.70
Avg. Duration (min)
29.44 ± 1.17
30.00 ± 0.00
% Max Heart Rate
81.05 ± 2.26
79.77 ± 5.30
Note. Data shown as Mean ± SD.
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group (38.70 ml/kg/min). A one-way
ANOVA comparing the PT-I VO2max
values across groups was not significant (p
= 0.57). Because all subjects underwent the
same initial run training stimulus and were
not significantly different at PT-I, the
analysis for the second phase of training
was carried out. With that said, more
evenly matched groups and a larger sample
(power analysis was not performed) might
have led to significant findings at PT-II
between groups. Nonetheless, an
attenuation in the decline in VO2max from
4.8% (detrain) to 1.5% (elliptical), still may
have practical value for an injured runner
hoping to maintain cardiovascular fitness
through cross training.
Furthermore, it is likely that the changes
from PT-I to PT-II would be more severe
had the second phase of training lasted
longer than three weeks. Ideally, each
training phase would have lasted at least
six weeks. The time constraints given the
conclusion of the spring semester and
inability to recruit subjects that would be
available during summer break were a
significant limitation to the current study.
Future research can provide more clear
results by improving on this and previously
stated design flaws. However, the
researchers believe the two training phase
design, which includes an initial run phase,
employed in the present study is a good
model in order to make comparisons
between alternate aerobic training
modalities for application to injured
runners.
When comparing the intensity of the
second phase of training, the elliptical
group exercised on average at 79.77% ±
5.30% of max heart rate and the running
group at 81.05% ± 2.26%. While this was
not a significant difference, there were
anecdotal reports from the subjects in the
elliptical group regarding the difficulty in
attaining the target heart rate. Exercise
prescription for both the elliptical and run
groups was based on the subject’s maximal
heart rate achieved during a treadmill GXT,
but maximal oxygen consumption and
heart rate have been shown to be equal for
treadmill and elliptical exercise (6, 7, 27).
Looking specifically at rating of perceived
exertion (RPE), some studies have shown
equal RPE (21, 23) values for running and
elliptical exercise at a given intensity, while
others showed lower RPE (2, 12, 5) or
higher RPE (25, 3) for a given intensity.
This ambiguity is somewhat clearer when
the distinction is made between whole
body RPE and lower body RPE, in which
case overall RPE was equivalent, but leg
RPE was greater for the elliptical (11). In the
present study, subjects exercising on the
elliptical were directed to alter the cadence
and resistance as they wished to attain the
target heart rate. Subjects were also
directed to move only in the forward
direction. RPE was not measured in the
current study and not believed to affect the
results since both groups worked out at the
same heart rate intensities relative to their
treadmill maximum.
Runners who are injured or limited from
running need alternative training options in
order to maintain fitness. Cross training
modalities such as cycling have been
previously explored, but elliptical exercise
is relatively new and less investigated,
especially in terms of the chronic training
effects. Simply by viewing the motions of
elliptical, cycling, and running exercise, it
seems that the elliptical motion may be
more specific to running than is cycling.
Whether or not this is true would require
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more measures than just VO2max, but also
need to look at other performance variables
such as lactate threshold, running economy,
and peak treadmill running velocity (19).
However, given the present findings,
elliptical exercise may be a viable cross
training option for recently-trained runners
attempting to maintain VO2max in the short
term. Studies comparing more
physiological and performance measures
for multiple cross training modalities can
shed more light on which mode of training
might be best for an injured runner.
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... Injuries can prevent runners from being able to follow their usual training program, resulting in a decline in physiological fitness and hence running performance (Joubert et al., 2011;Mujika & Padilla, 2000). When injured, training programs have to be modified, such as a reduction in running volume or a period of no running (Fredericson, 1996). ...
... During this time, the use of low-impact exercise modalities, such as the "elliptical trainer" and "stepper," are often used as alternative training (Mays et al., 2010;Roy et al., 2004), modalities commonly used by nonrunners in their training regimens. Furthermore, runners that are susceptible to injury can potentially include these modalities on a regular basis to replace some of the running load and thus reduce injury risk (Joubert et al., 2011;Mays et al., 2010;Roy et al., 2004). For both of these training purposes, that is, rehabilitation from and replacement of running, it is important that the intensity is sufficient and that the physiological responses are similar to running to maintain cardiorespiratory fitness. ...
... For injured runners wanting to maintain their physiological fitness, the replacement of treadmill/running sessions with elliptical or stepper sessions will allow them to continue training while recovering from injury (Dalleck et al., 2004;Joubert et al., 2011). Additionally, results of the study allow uninjured athletes to replace certain run training sessions with an elliptical or stepper training session to reduce the running load on the athlete during periods of high volumes of training and as an injury prevention strategy, especially in injury-prone runners. ...
Article
Elliptical trainers and steppers are proposed as useful exercise modalities in the rehabilitation of injured runners due to the reduced stress on muscles and joints when compared to running. This study compared the physiological responses to submaximal running (treadmill) with exercise on the elliptical trainer and stepper devices at three submaximal but identical workloads. Authors had 18 trained runners (male/female: N = 9/9, age: mean ± SD = 23 ± 3 years) complete randomized maximal oxygen consumption tests on all three modalities. Submaximal tests of 3 min were performed at 60%, 70%, and 80% of peak workload individually established for each modality. Breath-by-breath oxygen consumption, heart rate, fuel utilization, and energy expenditure were determined. The value of maximal oxygen consumption was not different between treadmill, elliptical, and stepper (49.3 ± 5.3, 48.0 ± 6.6, and 46.7 ± 6.2 ml·min ⁻¹ ·kg ⁻¹ , respectively). Both physiological measures (oxygen consumption and heart rate) as well as carbohydrate and fat oxidation differed significantly between the different exercise intensities (60%, 70%, and 80%) but did not differ between the treadmill, elliptical trainer, and stepper. Therefore, the elliptical trainer and stepper are suitable substitutes for running during periods when a reduced running load is required, such as during rehabilitation from running-induced injury.
... Five to 15 days of running cessation, which may be the result of injury, can reduce time to exhaustion and maximal aerobic capacity (V _ O 2 max) in distance runners (11,24). Nonrunning aerobic training alone can help maintain aerobic fitness in nonrunners and runners alike (12,27,28). Including nonimpact or low-impact cross-training within running training may also allow runners to safely return to a full running volume while maintaining aerobic fitness after time off for recovery (e.g., pre or early season) or from injury. ...
... Regarding performance, running economy (RE)-rate of oxygen consumption (ml$min 21 $kg 21 ) at a set running speed (7)-seems to have a strong association with distance running performance (26) and seems to be a better measure to differentiate runners of different performance levels compared with maximal aerobic capacity (i.e., V _ O 2 max) (2,19,33). Elliptical (12,21,27), CYCLE (20,21,34), and EBIKE (28) training in isolation allow runners to maintain their aerobic capacity compared with running-only (RUN) training. However, Honea (21) showed decrements in 3,000-m time trial performance after isolated CYCLE and elliptical training, decrements in RE after CYCLE training, but improvements in time trial performance for RUN training in high school cross country runners. ...
Article
There are many different types of aerobic cross-training modalities currently available. It is important to consider the effects that these different modalities have on running performance and injury risks. The purpose of this study was to compare movement quality, running economy and performance, injury-related biomechanical variables and, hip muscle strength before and after training with different cross-training modalities in high school runners. Thirty-one high school male runners trained for four weeks in one of three cross-training modalities, in addition to a running-only (RUN, n=9) group, for which training sessions replaced two easy runs per week: cycling (CYCLE; n=6), indoor elliptical (ELLIP; n=7) and, outdoor elliptical bike (EBIKE; n=9). Functional movement screen (FMS), running economy (RE), 3,000m performance, hip kinematics, hip muscle strength were assessed. Paired t-tests and Cohen’s d effect sizes were used to assess mean differences for each variable before and after training within each group. EBIKE training was the only modality that improved FMS scores (d = 1.36) and RE before and after training (d = 0.48). All groups showed improvements in 3,000m performance but large effects were only found for the CYCLE (d = 1.50) and EBIKE (d = 1.41) groups. RUN (d = 1.25), CYCLE (d = 1.17) and, EBIKE (d = 0.82) groups showed improvements in maximal hip extensor strength. Outdoor cycling and elliptical bike cross-training may be the most effective cross-training modalities to incorporate in early season training to improve running performance in high school runners.
... Exercise using an elliptical trainer has been shown to improve physiological variables, such as VO 2 max, in previously moderate-fit, untrained populations compared to treadmill running (9). This has also been seen in recently trained runners of 4-weeks (18). However, it is suggested that the elliptical trainer might not be effective in improving physiological variables or maintaining 3,000 m time trial times in long-term trained runners (16). ...
... These outcomes agree with previous research that have used similar training protocols to elicit physiological changes (25,32) with elliptical exercise. This was also observed in a study researching the effects of a 3-week elliptical training period on recently trained runners (18). ...
Article
A novel outdoor elliptical bicycle has been designed to elicit running-similar physiological adaptations while reducing the impact forces that commonly lead to injury. Various cross-training methods have been utilized to reduce injury risk, restore or maintain fitness, and prevent detraining. The purpose of this study was to compare 4-weeks of elliptical bicycle-only training to run-only training on maximal oxygen consumption, ventilatory threshold, respiratory compensation point, running economy, and 5,000 m time trial times. Twelve experienced runners (age, 22.33 ± 3.33 y; running experience, 9.25 ± 4.53 y) completed 4-weeks of randomly assigned elliptical bicycle or run training. Physiological and performance testing procedures were repeated, and subjects then performed a second matched 4-week training period in a cross-over design. Ventilatory threshold was significantly greater following elliptical bicycle (p < 0.05; 41.60 ± 6.15 ml/kg/min) and run training (p < 0.05; 42.33 ± 6.96 ml/kg/min) compared to the initial time point (40.17 ± 6.47 ml/kg/min). There were no significant group differences (p > 0.05) for these variables at any time point. In conclusion, elliptical bicycle-only training yielded similar physiological and performance maintenance or improvements compared to run-only training. These results suggest that elliptical bicycle training can be an effective cross-training method to maintain and improve certain physiological and performance variables in experienced runners over a 4-week period.
... Five to 15 days of running cessation, which may be the result of injury, can reduce time to exhaustion and maximal aerobic capacity (V _ O 2 max) in distance runners (11,24). Nonrunning aerobic training alone can help maintain aerobic fitness in nonrunners and runners alike (12,27,28). Including nonimpact or low-impact cross-training within running training may also allow runners to safely return to a full running volume while maintaining aerobic fitness after time off for recovery (e.g., pre or early season) or from injury. ...
... Regarding performance, running economy (RE)-rate of oxygen consumption (ml$min 21 $kg 21 ) at a set running speed (7)-seems to have a strong association with distance running performance (26) and seems to be a better measure to differentiate runners of different performance levels compared with maximal aerobic capacity (i.e., V _ O 2 max) (2,19,33). Elliptical (12,21,27), CYCLE (20,21,34), and EBIKE (28) training in isolation allow runners to maintain their aerobic capacity compared with running-only (RUN) training. However, Honea (21) showed decrements in 3,000-m time trial performance after isolated CYCLE and elliptical training, decrements in RE after CYCLE training, but improvements in time trial performance for RUN training in high school cross country runners. ...
Conference Paper
Injuries often force runners to cross-train in an attempt to maintain fitness with less or no pain. Little research has been conducted to identify the most optimal cross-training modalities for runners. PURPOSE: To compare running economy, hip adduction and functional movement screening (FMS) before and after training from three types of cross-training modalities in high school runners. METHODS: 31 high school male runners were assigned to one of four groups including running only (RUN; n=9) and, running plus one of cycling (CYCLE; n=6), indoor elliptical (ELL; n=7) or, outdoor elliptical bike (EBIKE; n=9). For four weeks, runners completed the same running training but easy runs (2 per week) were replaced by CYCLE, ELL or EBIKE. Before and after the training interventions, runners performed laboratory tests including running economy (RE: VO 2 at set speed), biomechanical running analysis on a treadmill and functional movement screening (FMS). Hip adduction excursion was computed with kinematic data collected using a motion capture system. The two FMS exercises were active straight leg raise and deep squat. Paired t-tests and Cohen's d effect sizes were used to compare each variable before and after training for all groups. RESULTS: Only the EBIKE group showed a significant improvement in RE before (42.8±4.3 ml/kg/min) and after training (41.2±3.0 ml/kg/min; p=0.05, d=0.48). The RUN (12.2±2.2° and 9.6±2.7°; p=0.07, d=1.11) and CYCLE (11.7±2.2° and 10.4±1.2°; p=0.07, d=0.97) groups showed a significant reduction in hip adduction excursion before and after training. Finally, only the EBIKE group showed a significant improvement in the two FMS exercise score before and after training (3.9±0.8 and 4.9±0.8; p=0.03, d=1.36). CONCLUSION: EBIKE training may be the most effective modality to improve RE. However, the applicability of this finding is questionable due to a small effect size (d=0.48). Hip adduction excursion during stance was more effectively reduced with RUN or CYCLE training. The reduction in hip adduction may have been the result of strengthening drills included in the runners' training. Finally, large improvements in FMS scores suggest that EBIKE training could potentially reduce injury risk in high school male runners (1). Reference 1. Hotta, T., et al. J Strength Cond Res, 2015. 29(10): 2808-15.
... Various gym apparatus such as the elliptical trainer and the stepper have become popular training modalities as alternatives to running (16,26), particularly because the impact of ground reaction forces is minimized. The popularity of these exercise modalities is multifaceted; runners supplement or replace some of their running training with aerobic cross training to increase total aerobic training volume or maintain fitness while recovering from injury. ...
Article
Eken, MM, Withers, A, Flanagan, K, Burger, J, Bosch, A, and Lamberts, RP. Muscular activation patterns during exercise on the treadmill, stepper, and elliptical trainer. J Strength Cond Res 36(7): 1847-1852, 2022-Because of the low-impact, the stepper and elliptical trainer are popular alternatives to running when runners sustain running-related injuries. Muscular effort is expected to be lower during exercise on the stepper and elliptical trainer compared with running. The aim of this study was to quantify this by comparing muscular effort when exercising at similar moderate-to-high exercise intensities on a treadmill, stepper, and elliptical trainer. Seventeen well-trained runners (V̇o2max: 53.3 ml·min-1·kg-1 [male: n = 9], 44.8 ml·min-1·kg-1 [female: n = 8]; average peak treadmill running speed: 18.7 km·h-1 [male], 16.3 km·h-1 [female]) performed exercise at submaximal levels (60%-70%-80% of peak workload) on the treadmill, stepper, and elliptical trainer. Peak workload was determined during peak exercise tests on separate days. Surface electromyography was recorded from lower extremity muscles. Root-mean-squared (RMS) values were calculated and compared between exercise modalities and submaximal levels. Significance was set at p < 0.05. Root-mean-squared levels of lower extremity muscles were significantly reduced during exercise on the stepper and elliptical trainer compared with treadmill running (p < 0.05, except for quadriceps (p > 0.05). Overall, similar RMS levels were found on stepper and elliptical trainer (p > 0.05), whereas in several cases higher RMS levels were found on the stepper compared with elliptical trainer (p < 0.05). These findings support clinical expectations that exercise on the stepper and elliptical trainer reduces muscular effort up to 60% compared with (treadmill) running, and therefore can be effective training modalities during rehabilitation from running-related injuries by restricting impact on lower extremities.
... Various gym apparatus such as the elliptical trainer and the stepper have become popular training modalities as alternatives to running (16,26), particularly because the impact of ground reaction forces is minimized. The popularity of these exercise modalities is multifaceted; runners supplement or replace some of their running training with aerobic cross training to increase total aerobic training volume or maintain fitness while recovering from injury. ...
... The training stimulus from partial and nonweight bearing exercise differs from overground running due to innate differences in the exercise modes. Despite differences in the mode, cross-training can improve, or at least maintain running performance in untrained to moderately trained athletes (Hass et al., 2001;Joubert et al., 2011;Loy et al., 1994;Millet et al., 2002;Millet al., 2009;Mutton et al., 1993). ...
Article
Full-text available
The vertical treadmill (VertiRun) is an unresearched mode of exercise where users engage in a “running-like” action whilst body weight is supported by a recumbent bench and overhanging resistance cables are tethered to the user’s ankles. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of training on a VertiRun and any cross-training effect on running performance. Thirty active males (age, 22±4 years; stature, 1.79±0.08 m; body mass, 78.5±12.6 kg) volunteered for this study. Participants’ aerobic and anaerobic running performance were determined by incremental maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2max) treadmill test and a maximum anaerobic running test (MART), respectively. Participants were matched and then randomly assigned to either a VertiRun group, 20-m shuttle sprint group or control group. The intervention consisted of 4–6, 30-sec all-out efforts with 4-min recovery between bouts, 3 days a week for 6 weeks. The pre- and postintervention VO2max and MART were analysed using a mixed repeated measures analysis of variance. MART increased by 4.5% in the VertiRun group (P=0.006) and 4% in the sprint group (P<0.001). VO2max increased by 6.2% in the VertiRun group (P=0.009) and 5.5% in the sprint group (P=0.020). The MART and VO2max of the control group were unchanged (P=0.910 and P=0.915, respectively). These data suggest that the VertiRun could be an effective cross-training mode for running and could supplement training programmes. Also, as VertiRun is a low-impact exercise it might be useful in the physical preparation of athletes returning to sport following lower limb injury.
... Research investigating the use of ET has identified that if used a prolonged period (12 weeks) a significant improvement of the physical fitness can be reached (7). As well as being a good method for increasing physical fitness, ET has also been shown to be an effective method of maintaining physical fitness level, during a period of three weeks of reduced activity in recently-trained runners (4 weeks training) (8). ...
Article
Full-text available
Morio C, Haddoum M, Fournet D, Gueguen N. Influence of exercise type on metabolic cost and gross efficiency: elliptical trainer versus cycling trainer. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016 May;56(5):520-6. Epub 2015 Feb 10. Background: Elliptical trainers are known as a good mean to develop physical fitness. However, the pedaling efficiency on an elliptical trainer has not been reported in the literature. The aim of the present study was to compare metabolic cost and gross efficiency for two different trainers - the elliptical trainer (ET) and the cycling trainer (CT). Methods: Fourteen participants were tested on ET and CT during two exercise sessions. Participants pedaled at 9 different power outputs for 3 minutes each. Oxygen consumption (VO2) and heart rate (HR) were recorded. Gross efficiency (GE) was calculated during the last 30s of each 3min period. Maximal aerobic power (MAP) was estimated for each participant for each condition. Results: MAP was found to be significantly greater in CT (237±88W) compared to ET (151±51 W). Significant positive correlations were found between power output and VO2 in both CT (r=0.93) and ET conditions (r=0.97). Regarding the inter-individual variability in MAP, GE was significantly correlated to the relative power output (%MAP) (r=0.75 in CT and r=0.69 in ET). Conclusions: The aim of the present study was to investigate metabolic demand of different exercise type using %MAP in each condition. The results confirmed that metabolic cost of ET was greater than CT at similar %MAP. Gross efficiency was lowered in ET condition compared to CT. This could be explained through the additional use of arms and the standing position during ET.
Article
In brief: Overuse injuries of the knee are becoming more common because there are more runners and they are running more often and farther. The authors describe the different kinds of overuse injuries of the knee, including iliotibial band syndrome, popliteal tendinitis, jumper's knee, and others. They also describe treatment for 329 patients with knee injuries over an 11-month period.