Elliptical Machines for 5K Race Training

You can incorporate elliptical machine workouts with your 5K training on non-run days to give your knees a break.
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You might be feeling a little burnt out with your 5K running routine, or maybe you just need to give your knees a rest for the day. Elliptical machines can help with 5K training. While not as effective as an actual run, there are 5K running programs that call for cross-training during your training week. It’s important to note that you still have to keep to a regular running program in order to be ready for your race, but hopping on and pushing yourself with the elliptical will yield positive results as well.


    Ellipticals are equipped with movable upper body poles or handles, which resemble ski poles. The machine uses pedals at your feet to move along a pattern that is similar to running or jogging. Because of the way an elliptical is designed, you receive little to no impact on your lower back and legs. This is safer compared to other cardio machines, such as a treadmill, which have greater impact on joints, muscles and the lower back. Most ellipticals are designed with a reverse pedaling motion, which allows you to work additional opposing muscles such as the hamstring and calf muscles.

Types of Ellipticals

    There are several types of ellipticals, but some that are popular are the elliptical cross-trainer, the elliptical glider and the elliptical trainer. The elliptical glider is very similar to the other elliptical machines with handlebars and foot platforms, however, the movement of the pedals is at a slightly different angle. Instead of a circular pedal movement, you’ll receive a pedal movement that is more up and down. The elliptical cross-trainer uses a circular pedal movement, different from the glider and it also has movable handlebars, giving the user a low-impact workout. The elliptical trainer uses the same circular pedal motion as the elliptical cross-trainer, but because its handlebars are fixed, it doesn’t move the upper body.

Incorporating 5K Training

    As you start your 5K training, it’s important to run every week and not rely solely on the elliptical machine for your training. Set up your weekly routine to incorporate one long run, two to three easy runs and two days of speed training or strength training workouts. Your elliptical workouts should be scheduled before or after your strength training workouts on non-running days to get extra volume in without beating up your knees and joints. Schedule 30 to 60 minutes of elliptical training sessions for those days.


    Always warm up and cool down before and after your running and elliptical routines. You can take five to 10 minutes to perform light to moderate cardio to warm up the muscles and bring your heart rate up. For cooling down, always give yourself at least five minutes to steady the heart rate. After cooling down, stretch the muscles used during your workout in order to reduce muscle soreness and prevent potential injuries.

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