I like to think there is always an upside. In this case, the limitation of my back have led me to explore other training options and I’ve found a good one in the last place I thought i would: the elliptical machine.
I have always thought that elliptical machines were incapable of generating enough intensity for the likes of my workouts. Yeah, you could set the resistance really hard but the nature of having your feet just resting on the platforms limited the amount of work you could really do, and I imagined the amount of work I was looking to do vastly outstripped this potential. Turns out I was wrong (my wife won’t be surprised!).
I finished last week out with two elliptical workouts (after realizing I couldn’t row or run) on two different machines–for some reason my YMCA has three different brands of ellipticals! Both were awesome. The second one was a bit too awesome and I failed miserably on the fourth of five intervals. The program was a 30:30 interval (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy) and I’d set the level to 20 (out of 30 possible). After a 3 minute progressive warm-up, the intervals started–30 seconds at level 20 where you’re instructed to keep the cadence above 60, followed by 30 seconds at some lower level (11?) where you’re told to ‘walk’ at a cadence under 45.
For the first interval i was jazzed and 45 felt ridiculously slow and easy and so i kept the cadence above 60 on the rest portion. By the last interval i was struggling to keep the pace above 40 and had lowered the work interval portion down to level 16. Ouch.
I was pleasantly surprised by these workouts. They were HARD. yeah, maybe i’m still not quite back to where i was before Belize, and sure, they are ‘new’ which might make them seem harder, but i’m not even coming close to tapping the potential of these machines. Cardiovascularly I felt like i was doing a tabata–my heart rate was through the roof on the work intervals and I was desperate for the rest intervals to last longer. I also felt like both my legs and arms were getting pushed hard–there was definitely a full body feel to the session, similar to what I feel when doing intervals on the rowing machine but with activation of some of my ‘pushing’ muscles as well.
So needless to say, I’m psyched. I’ll probably alternate cycling workout and elliptical workouts until I can run again, and then maybe alternate all four (biking, rowing, running, elliptical) once I’m back to full health.
But for now, well the Chiropractor is waiting.