The elliptical machine has become a very popular piece of equipment in gyms and in homes. It allows you to get a great cardiovascular workout with very little impact to your joints. The elliptical primarily uses the muscles in your legs, with some machines also incorporating arm movements. Neck muscle activity is limited and the elliptical should not make your neck wider.
Flex Your Guns
Building muscle is not as easy as it seems. Muscle hypertrophy is the increase in muscle fiber size that is a result of training, specifically resistance training, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. For your neck to get wider, and grow you would need to perform heavy resistance exercises targeting your neck. Most people don't incorporate specific neck exercises with resistance into their routines. Instead, it is often stretched and moved through full range of motion to avoid tightness and tension through the neck and shoulders.
What's Working and What's Not
Elliptical trainers come in two major types: with or without arm movement. Both types use your legs to do most of the work. This includes the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. If your arms are moving as well as your legs, the back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps are also working. Your abs and other core muscles, as well as your neck, are stabilizers during the elliptical. They help your body in an upright position and maintain good form during your workout.
There are many positive effects on your body with regular elliptical use. It can help you lower your body fat and maintain a healthy weight. If you carry a lot of excess weight your neck may actually shrink with elliptical use. It improves your resting heart rate and blood pressure levels. Regular use can lower your risk of disease, as well as control blood glucose levels. At a cellular level your body becomes more efficient at gas exchange, nutrient usage and fat metabolism. Muscle hypertrophy is not one of the effects of using the elliptical.
Football Player Neck
While you may not do a specific neck workout, there are other exercises that may be contributing to a wider neck. Exercises that work your upper trapezius may give the appearance of a bigger neck if those muscles are getting bigger. Your traps lie along the back of your neck and flare out to the sides near the top of your shoulders. Shoulder shrugs and even overhead presses such as a dumbbell shoulder press can enlarge these fibers. If you don't want a big neck, avoid activating these muscles by keeping your shoulders down and relaxed when exercising.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Slideshare.net: Top 10 Benefits of Exercising With An Elliptical Trainer
- Mayo Clinic.com: Elliptical Machines: Better Than Treadmills?
- ExRx.net: Trapezius (Upper Fibers)
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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