Using an elliptical in reverse can be an effective form of cross-training.
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An elliptical is a piece of aerobic exercise equipment that allows users to simulate walking, jogging, or climbing stairs -- without the joint impact associated with the traditional performance of these activities. Though most individuals choose to use forward leg motions while on an elliptical, this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. In fact, using the machine in reverse can aid in the activation of the hamstring muscles. Similarly, performing reverse leg motions on an elliptical can promote improvements in core strength and condition, be an effective form of cross-training, and may alleviate boredom.
The traditional, forward leg motion on an elliptical machine traditionally produces improvements in strength in the quadriceps muscle -- located on the front of the upper thigh. Individuals who wish to target their hamstrings, however, may want to consider using reverse leg motion while on this piece of equipment, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The hamstrings are generally a weaker muscle group than the quadriceps, and therefore may require less resistance to produce a challenging workout. Start with a low level and increase work load slowly for optimal results when it comes to strengthening this muscle group.
Core Strength and Conditioning
Using reverse leg motion on an elliptical can be a challenging movement -- especially for those who have never attempted this technique before. It should come as no surprise, then, that performing this type of maneuver requires significant balance and coordination. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that most exercisers will rely on the activation of their "core" muscle group, including the abdominals and those of the lower back, to maintain balance while using an elliptical in reverse. Concentrate on maintaining erect posture during reverse leg motion to ensure optimal results when it comes to targeting the core muscles.
Performing the same exercise over and over can sometimes lead to overuse injuries -- even when the activity relies on low-impact movement, such as those offered by an elliptical. To avoid this occurrence, exercisers are often encouraged to participate in an activity known as cross-training. The American Council on Exercise describes cross-training as an exercise technique in which individuals rely on different techniques of aerobic activity to promote improvements in endurance and conditioning. Alternating between forward and reverse leg motions on an elliptical on various days throughout the week can be an effective way not only to avoid overuse injuries, but also to promote even greater improvements in cardiovascular health.
Performing the same type of exercise over and over can sometimes become monotonous -- a common factor behind the cessation of physical activity. Adding a new challenge to an old exercise routine can be an effective way to put some excitement back into a structured workout. Using reverse leg motions on an elliptical will likely require exercisers to concentrate on the activity and listen to their body. By alleviating some of the boredom associated with an old exercise routine, individuals may be more willing to commit to a regular workout program.