Can using the elliptical on high resistance be a good alternative to weight squats?

  • manpit209

    Posts: 213

    Dec 06, 2009 7:13 PM GMT
    I'm starting to use the elliptical machine more these days and I usually find that my quads feel like jello once I'm done. The feeling is much like how my legs feel after doing squats and lunges. Is it possible for the elliptical to be a good alternative to doing squats if I do it with high resistance? I'm not a really big fan of doing squats so if there are alternatives, I'd like to try them. Thanks for any feedback!
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:20 PM GMT
    You'll still wanna do squats a couple times a month because they hit a lot of the secondary muscle groups, but I don't see anything wrong with using an elliptical or bike on high resistance. I've been doing it a lot lately to build some size and vascularity and it's working pretty well.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:25 PM GMT
    just be aware that bikes in high gears are not great for your knees. If you were riding on the road you would have a relatively lowish gear and high cadence.... high gears are used sparingly.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:27 PM GMT
    It isn't a substitute per se, but it is something you can do infrequently if you are dreading a squat-based workout. The results of a full substitution would not be the same.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:30 PM GMT
    I don't think you will get the same range of motion with the elliptical as with weights. Also I don't think the two are comparable because one is aerobic the other is anaerobic.

    On the other hand, I have known cyclist and skaters to have very big thighs and I have a feeling it's not from squatting.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:37 PM GMT
    You'll want to study hypertrophy and how the two types of load have different effects on different types of muscle.

    You failed to state your training goal, so, it's hard to advise you in any way. Riding a bike under load, in high gear, can give you some BIG legs. Riding a bike in a lower gear, at a higher RPM, will not give you substantial development, and won't really up your cardiac threshold. Bicyclists that are serious often develop huge legs from progressive overload. Wanna' bes that are lazy have skinny legs. I had my largest legs, almost 29 inches (when I road my bike in high gear). If you look at some Olympic speed skaters, and cyclists, you'll see many have very large thighs.

    If size is your goal, higher weights, at moderate reps (8 to 15, or more) will cause more sacroplasmic hypertrophy. If cardiac threshold is what your after, HIIT, will raise your cardiac threshold, and increase your strength, and local muscular endurance. I.e. sprints, and intervals. If just burning calories at a low intensity level is what you want, low intensity, high rpm, riding is where you're burn calories (but, muscle, too). For strength, and myofibrillated hypertrophy, you'll do low rep, high weight, exercises...think powerlifter (not much size this way, but, more strength).

    Spinning will burn calories, and once your body gets you used to it, may actually lower your LBM in the rest of the body if you don't have enough calories.

    Size is about calories, and progressive load, at moderate reps, consistently for sacroplasmic hypertrophy. Stength is about 1RM, 3RM, and progessive loads, but, much longer recovery, and not much hypertropy other than myofibrillated. Fitness is about HIIT. Calorie burn is about low intensity cardio, although, study after study has shown HIIT to be very much more effective than endless ours of cardio, and it increases lean muscle mass / preserves it, and increases cardiac Thessaly at the same time.

    Resistance training is the only training that will increase your lean muscle mass, improve your cardiac threshold, and strengthen your bones, as you grow older.

    Calories are key for success. If you don't eat, you're wasting valuable time, and effort.

    Higher rep and long term endurance movements help with capillarization and vascularization which help to make an improved blood supply to a particular muscle group. High rep training should be integral to any serious athlete's
    training. No serious athletes should blow past HIIT. It's a huge contributor to cardiac health. (I'm considered at ZERO risk of a cardiac event.)

    You'll want to study this more on your own, to consider what your goals are.

    Is riding a bike like doing squats? No way! Think about it for a minute. When you squat you involve your back, your butt, your arms, your chest, your shoulders, your hamstrings, your abs...and it's work. If had thought about it, that would almost certainly have been apparent to you. There's a lot of proprioception and the resulting balance that goes into a squat. It's called the king of exercises for a reason.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:41 PM GMT
    Masher: A cyclist who habitually pedals hard in a high gear, at a slow cadence. The opposite of a "spinner." The "mashing" style is likely to cause knee injuries and leg cramps.

    Not recommended as a habitual riding style. Frequently used by rookies and people who are strong from other sports (rowing etc)
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Dec 06, 2009 7:50 PM GMT
    It might have a little to do with genetics, but for the most part I go biking, do elliptical, and use the leg press machine for my leg workouts. My legs respond to all of these activities and exercises quite well.

    I think heavy squats are one of the most dangerous exercises. I can't really do them anyway because of a car accident a few years ago and if I try to reach behind my back with my arms, my neck and one shoulder actually hurts pretty bad.
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    Dec 06, 2009 7:50 PM GMT
    Lostboy saidMasher: A cyclist who habitually pedals hard in a high gear, at a slow cadence. The opposite of a "spinner." The "mashing" style is likely to cause knee injuries and leg cramps.

    Not recommended as a habitual riding style. Frequently used by rookies and people who are strong from other sports (rowing etc)


    I agree there. I've had to either cut back the resistance or the amount of time I spend doing high resistance because my IT bands get pretty sore if I pound it too hard. You have to treat it like any other leg exercise rather than cardio or you'll be hurting real bad.
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    Dec 06, 2009 8:14 PM GMT
    yup that´s the main thing: if you do 45 mins of spinning in a high gear your knees will go.
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    Dec 06, 2009 9:53 PM GMT
    Lostboy saidyup that´s the main thing: if you do 45 mins of spinning in a high gear your knees will go.

    Quoted for emphasis.

    Since upping my workload to 4 cycling classes a week (from two this summer), I have seen a gain of 1 inch on my thighs. I train my participants for stamina and high intensity. That being said, I would never want them to ever do 45 minutes of high gear. Pushing 45 minutes at a perceived exertion rate of 3.5-4 is lethal on joints.

    If the OP wants to go this route, he will need to at least interval it.
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    Dec 06, 2009 10:36 PM GMT
    I'm not a big fan of squats either at least not with a barbell. You could try doing seated leg presses as an alternative. If you're going to do high intensity on the eliptical make sure you do some warmup and cooldown at a low intensity and then stretch really well after you're done...especially your quads and hamstrings.
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    Dec 07, 2009 7:55 AM GMT
    I do both. No amount of cycling will build your legs like squats. Sorry. But cycling will build your legs in ways squats do not. Do both.
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    Dec 07, 2009 8:31 AM GMT
    I agree. If you don't have any back or joint problems, get over yourself and just do squats. You don't even have to go heavy. Just do them. And jump on the stair master. And jump on the elliptical. And the exercise bike. Not all on the same day of course. icon_lol.gif The point is, doing a variety of leg exercises and fatiguing them the right way will stimulate growth.
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    Dec 07, 2009 9:58 AM GMT
    I do very deep squats with lowish weights (at the moment it´s about 45kg- will move up to 50kg soon). You don´t need to squat twice your body weight for the benefit.... deep squats with higher reps. It´s much easier on your body.

    At the moment I do squat/deadlift super sets then immediately after lunge/hamstring curl super sets as my main leg work out (and cycling and rowing and a few leg things in my weekly circuits), That seems to be working great.
  • manpit209

    Posts: 213

    Dec 08, 2009 3:46 AM GMT
    Thanks for all the responses! I guess I will continue to do squats and seated leg presses in additional to doing the elliptical.