Does anyone have any thoughts on how to make this workout better? Is there a way to replace this "easy" elliptical with something that doesn't take away from the other workouts or strength?
I suspect Kenny will be the authority on cross training, but are stationary bikes or ergs feasible options for variety?
I am actually also looking for ideas here. Basically all of my elliptical sessions are easy, usually ramping the effort to something decent (but still not really hard) by the end. I think of it like a recovery/bonus session.
I always go no-hands, on the lowest or second lowest incline, and have found things become awkward when the resistance is too high. I disliked/avoided doing intervals because of that. I guess you could hold on just during the interval. Speed-wise, I try to keep the cadence similar to running, like aiming for 180 or 90 depending on how you are counting. I remember noticing Misha doing closer to half that speed, I guess that makes it more like a stair climber.
I tend to hold my arms lower than when running, maybe because of laziness. A few times I also tried holding some very light weights.
I think the main problem I have with too much elliptical is that the stride is kind of short and it doesn't loosen up my hip flexors (already tight from sitting all day, leading to back problems for me) as much as even easy jogging. Bike is worse, which is why I've basically dropped that this year. I've also tried fast walking with a bit of incline, which kind of works but also sort of feels like non-training. Classic skiing seems ideal and I've half considered getting an old Nordic Track machine. I know peggyd has one.
I love my Nordic Track, still using it regularly ~20 years after I got it. It's kind of a running motion (well, obvs more like xc skiing), low impact, not electric (ie, all movement is done by you, which is a better workout and also allows you to adjust speed more quickly). AFAIK they aren't made/sold any more but I bet you can get a used one really cheap. I'm probably the only person in the country still using mine.
I always liked how the Nordic Track works. Many years ago I wanted an exercise machine, and Nordic Tracks were already hard to find, so I got a rowing machine instead. It's a fine full-body exercise. My rowing machine, after a bout of hard use, smelled faintly of oil and hot metal. Not a bad smell, but it wasn't long before the association of smell and hard work put me off rowing altogether. I sold it to a friend.
Living here in the Maryland suburbs, there aren't may times when you can't just go out for a 30-minute run, or at least a fast walk (having a dog helped with that, a mile and a half 7 days a week). I haven't felt the need for an indoor replacement.
A runner I know just tried a Zero Runner
at her gym and said it was great. Worth looking for a gym that has one?
Edit: Correction, she said, "Official verdict: love the Zero Runner. It's like the best possible combination of a treadmill and an elliptical."