Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Calorie burning a teeny bit easier on cross trainer than on treadmill

If you do cardio training you’re probably aware of the studies that say running on a treadmill is the most efficient way to burn calories. But sports scientists at the University of Nebraska at Kearney are about to publish a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that will put an end to the tyranny of the treadmill. According to this study, working out on a cross trainer is just as efficient. Or even a tiny bit more efficient.

Running on a treadmill burns more energy than cycling, rowing or training on a ski-simulator or stair stepper, researchers discovered at the end of the nineties. [JAMA. 1996 May 8; 275(18): 1424-7.] How good cross trainers were, the studies could not say, as they still had to be invented.

The official name for cross trainers is elliptical devices. Fitness machine manufacturers claim that you burn more calories on these than on treadmills. The researchers wanted to know whether these claims are true. So they got 9 untrained male and 9 untrained female students aged between 19 and 24 to do 2 sessions of 15 minutes on both pieces of equipment.

The subjects had to train at moderate intensity.

The researchers observed that the subjects used slightly more oxygen, and therefore also more energy, on the cross trainer than on the treadmill.

Fifteen minutes of running on the treadmill burned an average of 136 kcal. Fifteen minutes on the cross trainer burned 152 kcal. This was not a statistically significant difference, however.

Exercising on the cross trainer raised the heart rate more than running on the treadmill. And this time the difference was statistically significant.

The researchers do not consider the differences they recorded relevant. The treadmill and the cross trainer are equally good, they conclude. "Using an elliptical device is a viable alternative when engaging in physical activity for health enhancement. When exercising at a self-selected rating of perceived exertion, using an elliptical device would result in similar adaptations to using a treadmill."

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):1643-9.

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