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Say I am looking for a 30 min. cardio workout for 3 times a week. Goal is to reduce resting heart rate and improve general fitness. Which is better:

  • Elliptical trainer (say: max resistance, 90-110 rpm)
  • Running (say: 5:00 min/km)

Is there any difference, or is it just about getting a good pulse rate during workout?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There will be some minor differences in how you develop, but as far as your goals go as long as you keep your heart rate in the correct zone (check these links if you need info on what's correct), you'll be making progress toward your goal.

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You don't do cardio to build up muscle. It's essential for your cardiovascular health and it's the best way to burn fat.

So it's not really "that much" important whether you do elliptical or run on a threadmill.

Just make sure that your heart beat rate is between optimal rates.

For instance, for me optimal range is 140-160.

If you have no idea about your's, ask for assistance to a trainer in your gym or a doctor.

There are also some calculators on web which can give you a rough idea.

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Care to elaborate on the part whether running is 'more effective' than working out on the elliptical trainer? Because there might be other advantages, like less risk of injury, being able to run indoors (when its cold or rains) or one is more effective than the other. – Ivo Flipse May 24 '11 at 17:01
Whether you're overweighted or not, during running your needs are more under stress compared to elliptical. So if your aim is to burn fat or do some cardio, you can always go with elliptical. Also you can still do HIIT with it. – Cihan Yılmaz May 24 '11 at 21:08

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