Metabolic cost of stride rate, resistance, and combined use of arms and legs on the elliptical trainer

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2006 Dec;77(4):507-13. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2006.10599385.


We measured the effects of stride rate, resistance, and combined arm-leg use on energy expenditure during elliptical trainer exercise and assessed the accuracy of the manufacturer's energy expenditure calculations. Twenty-six men and women (M age = 29 years, SD = 8; M body weight = 73. 0 kg, SD = 15.2) participated. Twenty-two participants performed two tests, one without the arm poles (leg-only) and the other with arm poles (combined arm-leg). The other 4 participants performed one test without the arm poles. Both tests consisted of six 5-min stages (two stride rates, 110 and 134 stridesmin-1, and three resistance settings: 2, 5, and 8). Steady-state oxygen uptake (VO2), minute ventilation (VE), heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured. Repeated measures analysis of variance determined higher (p <. 001) VO2, VE, and RPE, but not HR, during combined arm-leg versus leg-only exercise at any given intensity. Increases in stride rate and resistance increased VO2, VE, RPE, and HR with the greatest effect on VE and HR from Levels 5 to 8. The manufacturer's calculated energy expenditure was overestimated during both tests. Although the oxygen cost for elliptical trainer exercise was calculated to be approximately 0.1 mlxkg(-1) per stride and 0.7 mlxkg(-1) min-1 per resistance level, VO2 varied widely among individuals, possibly due to differences in experience using the elliptical trainer gender, and body composition. The elliptical trainer offers (a) a variety of intensities appropriate for most individuals and (b) both arm and leg exercise. Due to the wide variability in VO2, predicting the metabolic cost during elliptical trainer exercise for an individual is not appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology
  • Sex Factors