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Rowing Machine Vs. Elliptical, "Exercise Efficiency" of Erg vs. Ellip

Discussion in 'Gym Equipment' started by ufcpa, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. ufcpa

    ufcpa Well-Known Member

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    I'm seeking thoughts/experience of any w/experience using rowing machines, like the Concept 2, who have also done workouts on elliptical machines.

    I've rowed religiously for the past 18 months- 11k meters daily, 6 days/week, with a calorie burn of approximately 725 per session (44-45 minutes). My heart rate averages 150 bpm during the session. My fitness level has improved significantly and I lost 20 or so pounds (and eat everything I want). 2 weeks ago, I went on a 7 day cruise on a ship without ergs, but with a number of new Lifefitness 95xi elliptical machines- the company's top-of-the-line model. Long story short, the workouts on the elliptical were great, and I ended up burning the same number of calories as the erg in about 20% less time. My perceived level of exertion was less on the elliptical, although my average heart rate was approximately the same (155 bpm).

    I understand that the calc'd calorie burn on each machine is subject to some general assumptions, although it would seem that the elliptical would be more accurate, as it queries re: your age, weight prior to the workout. Theoretically, it seems that one might see a "better" workout from the elliptical (and I know this varies based on many factors), based on the fact that you're using both your arms and legs (like the erg), but you are standing on the elliptical, supporting your own weight, unlike the erg.

    Thoughts by anyone on this? I love the erg, believe it's the best bang for the buck, in terms of $ cost ($850 vs. $4,500 for the elliptical), but am curious as to whether others have any similar experiences or comments.
     
  2. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    Both the calorie numbers you are getting are probably low. This is because you're in pretty good shape from the rowing. You get better estimates of your calories from a heart monitor that uses a reasonable estimate of your VO2max than either erg or elliptical.

    I have an erg and an elliptical. The erg burns more calories now because I'm used to the elliptical. But it's pretty close. And this is going by the heart monitor so it's not using either the elliptical or erg estimate, and is a fair comparison.

    Dollar for dollar, rowing machines rule over ellipticals of similar quality and usefulness.

    But calorie for calorie, it's a toss up. The rower has some advantages in working arms and upper back, the elliptical has the advantage of your bodyweight has to be carried by you.

    If it really comes down to it, get the rower, and use the extra money to buy a squat rack, bench, and Olympic weights, heart monitor, and some instability objects. For less money you get far more versatility and the benefit of strength workouts too.

    But ellipticals are excellent workouts. I'm not knocking them. Only the price of the good ones.
     
  3. ufcpa

    ufcpa Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your thoughts, zenpharaohs. I have a HR monitor, have found that it reads my calorie burn about 10% less than the rowing machine (I have a Concept 2). I trust it more than the rower, as it considers HR, height, weight, age, etc.

    I'm in the market for a good elliptical, which will hopefully provide a good alternative to the C2 which I've been using daily for months.
     
  4. senimoni

    senimoni Well-Known Member

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    Can you post what kind of HR monitors have the calorie feature...that you use...I didn't even know that was possible.
     
  5. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    As long as the heart monitor has a decent estimate of your VO2max, then trust it. I've heard that the C2 calories are a little high. I have the Waterrower. I don't really bother with looking at its calories, only its distance.

    If you want a good elliptical, in my experience, Lifefitness are good if you don't want incline, and Precor if you do. I have a Precor at home, and use Lifefitness a lot in the gym.
     
  6. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    I use Polar F11. There are many Polar models that do this. The kind you want to use are the models that also say they have the "Ownindex". This is an estimate of your VO2max based on your resting heart rate and other data that appears to work pretty well. This is really important because it is a big factor in estimating calories from heart rate.

    Even if you don't get a good VO2max based calorie count from a heart monitor, you can still use it as a universal estimate of effort that you can use to compare different workouts. It means that you no longer have to plan for such and such many minutes on this machine and then wonder what you should do if you want to try that machine for a day. I can do a workout with dumbell lunges and know that I am getting the same cardio workout I would get on an elliptical. So I can do whatever I want for cardio and not worry that I'm not getting enough. It really transforms your cardio workout to just be able to do what you feel like as you feel like it. Get bored? Jump on another machine.
     
  7. ufcpa

    ufcpa Well-Known Member

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    I also use a Polar F11 and agree that it does provide a good means of guaging and retaining your level of relative activity. To the topic of this thread, I used it while exercising on several ellipticals- all LifeFitness 95xi on the cruise- and the HR monitor always read fewer calories than the machine- nothing significant, in my opinion- 5 to 10%. I "trust" the HR monitor more than the machine, for the reasons given in the previous 2 posts.
     

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