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Calories burned--faster elliptical versus higher resistance.


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I sweat the same, but higher resistance makes my heart pump faster. What would be better for higher calorie burn?

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Higher resistance is always a better burn. When your muscles are challenged, the "afterburn" lasts longer after your workout.

afterburn is pretty negligible, actually. Did you try looking this up on the activity counter? To be honest the difference in calories isn't going to be that much. Cardio is much better for your heart and circulation health than burning calories.

I'm assuming the elliptical you use doesn't tell you how many calories you're burning, because otherwise you'd be able to figure this out just by experimenting.

Increasing your resistance almost always improves your burn rate.  For me, though, my heart rate determines how hard I work.  I do an hour a day on an arc trainer, and I adjust my resistance based on what my heart rate is.  I try never to go over 90% of max.

Maximum heart rate (in beats per minute) = 220 minus your age.

Mind you, I do try to get my heart rate up, because at lower resistance levels I don't feel like I'm doing much of anything (and the calorie meter on the arc trainer confirms that I am indeed burning fewer calories at lower resistance).

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the replies. When I am doing lower resistance but going really fast (I go around 250 strides/min, I don't really feel my heart pound (at resistance 4-6), but when I up resistance to 11-12, I can actually feel my heart pound. So I was guessing I would burn more calories... does anyone have HR monitor data?

your fitness level, weight, age and intensity chosen will all determine the HR so someone else's data wont do much for you unfortunately.  

i recommend getting a HRM and using it to set targets for yourself and maximize your calorie burn. faster will burn more than slower and hevier resistance will burn more than lighter. so you can alternate days of fast and light with slow and heavy to vary your workouts which is better than doing the same thing daily.

hope this helps.

not meaning to high jack - but . . .

What about eliptical versus stationary bike set at the same resisitance.  I have a cheap combo one and can switch between the two at will with no settings to change.  Will using the eliptical burn more due to more muscle groups called into play or bike because legs must work harder to compensate for no arm help?

Original Post by larmabee:

not meaning to high jack - but . . .

What about eliptical versus stationary bike set at the same resisitance.  I have a cheap combo one and can switch between the two at will with no settings to change.  Will using the eliptical burn more due to more muscle groups called into play or bike because legs must work harder to compensate for no arm help?

with resistance being equal youd burn more calories on the elliptical because youre supporting your body weight instead of sitting down. more muscle groups are working and you can use speed to compensate for the lack of intensity

I have been wondering this forever!  Because, I'll tell ya, ALL of the ellipticals I've been on give me the same calorie burn when I do high or low resistances and it makes me crazy!  I have been experimenting for a year with HIIT, high res., low res. and the elliptical always says the same thing (depending on weight, age and distance). 

So I have tried different resistances at the same weight and the same age I am now, and every time there's only a few calorie variance.  What I HAVE noticed, however, is that I can do 5 miles about 3-4 minutes faster on a high resistance than on a low.  Does that seem backwards to anyone else but me?

And, for the record, I know that the numbers these machines give you are just estimates, but if I'm working twice as hard (high vs. low), I'd like to think I'm doing it for a good reason.

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