Do you need a "leg day" if you do high resistance elliptical?

2

Replies

  • trigden1991
    trigden1991 Posts: 4,659 Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If you really want optimal results you need access to a barbell and learn proper form for compound lifts.

    People who claim their knees hurt other than some injuries can squat at parallel with good form if you can walk and sit on a toilet with little to no pain eventually. The pain usually is a result from terrible form and lack of practice.

    I guy I've coached lifting for the past year would never squat because he claimed knee pain prevented him. He just squatted over 465lbs a few hours ago in his first meet. Results can be had if you work a plan.

    I haven’t squatted for nearly 3 years now and rarely use the leg press but I have good leg development. It’s all about hitting volume/frequency/intensity on the moves you do.

    I was referring to optimal results, not just good.

    Good can be had without squatting or deadlifting obviously.

    Nope I would still disagree. There is absolutely no requirement for squats or deadlifts for "optimal" results.
  • billkansas
    billkansas Posts: 267 Member
    Strong legs and low back are the foundation for all strength training. Squats therefore are fundamental. I'd skip arms and uppers before legs and lowers. Squats hit some of the biggest muscles in the body all simultaneously- more "bang for your buck". I squat because I want to get in and out of the gym as quickly as possible. I also personally despise the "big uppers" and "so-so lowers" look... I get it though that chest and arms training is super fun. I wear a hoodie in the gym just so I never become one of THOSE guys. So yeah, don't give in to the dark side!
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,265 Member
    edited November 2017
    I used to think there were no cardio machines that could build up legs until I took up Indoor rowing seriously. I've packed on 20 lbs of muscle in the three years that I've been rowing. I went from 245 lbs down to 170 at my lowest and now I'm back up to 190 with the same BF I had when I was 170. I row tons (70K a week or so). I still lift (and do plyometrics) but mainly it's the rowing that builds the legs up. I did running, Spinning/Biking for years before that. Nothing close to rowing. My legs and lats, shoulders and back are pretty big now. Plus, I have a semi defined six pack at 53 (no other ab work). Look at pics of Olympic rowers (or even college ones) and compare them to other athletes. It works every major muscle except chest. Many of the world's best rowers don't even lift. A lot of Aussies and New Zealanders only row and they are huge (except the sunken chest!). I do it in part because I do Indoor racing, but also it's efficient as anything. 50 minutes of hard rowing and 150 pushups, 150 or so military presses and that's a great full body workout. I only do added leg workouts because I'm working to go from a local competitive rower to a Regionally competitive one (with the long term goal of racing at the World Indoors at 55 and placing in the top 10 for my age group).

    Rowers now include guys like Connor McGregor and Hugh Jackman, among others. Most MMA fighters all now row indoor. There's a reason why most Cross Fit gyms have two pieces of cardio equipment - the Concept2 rower and an Assault Bike (Watts bike). The guy who trains special forces/Seals - former World class rower and he loves the rower for training our troops (he was University of MI womens' crew coach for years).

    I'm not talking Orange Theory stuff either. I'm talking real rowing (either OTW or a Concept2). Those WaterRowers make great furniture, not great rowing machines.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,093 Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If you really want optimal results you need access to a barbell and learn proper form for compound lifts.

    People who claim their knees hurt other than some injuries can squat at parallel with good form if you can walk and sit on a toilet with little to no pain eventually. The pain usually is a result from terrible form and lack of practice.

    I guy I've coached lifting for the past year would never squat because he claimed knee pain prevented him. He just squatted over 465lbs a few hours ago in his first meet. Results can be had if you work a plan.

    I haven’t squatted for nearly 3 years now and rarely use the leg press but I have good leg development. It’s all about hitting volume/frequency/intensity on the moves you do.

    I was referring to optimal results, not just good.

    Good can be had without squatting or deadlifting obviously.

    Nope I would still disagree. There is absolutely no requirement for squats or deadlifts for "optimal" results.

    That's dependant on the overall goal of the person and efficiency of the lifts. I would hazard yours is not strong as possible in the least amount of time for lifting weight off the floor or on your back.
  • BusyRaeNOTBusty
    BusyRaeNOTBusty Posts: 7,165 Member
    I totally <kittened> my left knee my sophomore year in high school Football. Did not do squats after that. Fast forward 30+ years I am doing squats (and dead lifts) and absolutely loving it. In fact, I would suggest that my knee is WAY BETTER now than it was before I started squatting. I am pretty much go *kitten*-to-the-grass!

    Key is to find and maintain proper form and do not engage in ego-lifting.

    This is me too. I had a "bad knee" all through my 20s. I always wore a brace for sports, and couldn't sit in a car or on an airplane with my knee bent for long periods of time without serious pain for a few days after.

    I started getting back into heavy weight lifting including squats and lunges (being very careful on form) after the birth of my 3rd kid when I was. My knee is now fine and I'm almost 40.

    OP: Ditto the suggestion on goblet squats. And if you want to try lunges, try stepping backwards so you can control the angle of the front knee. On both, start low, not with the 50 lbs dumbbell. Start with 20 and work your way up.
  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,344 Member
    If a person thinks that muscle can't be built on an elliptical, then just don't convert watts to lb/ft per second. Quite a few decent elliptical machines can match the resistance level that most amateur lifters would lift on a squat or deadlift. Used properly they can easily build muscle, and even lower priced and featured ellipticals should have plenty of resistance to preserve muscle. The elliptical in our home can equal resistance to over 550 lb ft per second.

    Some of the HIIT studies showed that with higher intensity, exercises usually considered more of a cardio exercise can increase anaerobic power. IIRC the Tabata studies showed over a 25% increase just doing those short intense intervals. As with any other method to build muscle there is the weight (or resistance) vs time vs range of motion factors. Range of motion would not only be distance, but would impact the muscles that engaged the most and biomechanics of the exercise.


    It would be interesting to see where the crossover in exercise efficiency would be using various machines for differing goals, but to claim that certain machines can't build muscle is quite a stretch. It's just as bad as saying deadlifts couldn't help you cycle faster.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    In addition to the comment about squats, which I absolutely love, consider dead lifts. I used to count squats as my favorite exercise on the planet. That changed when I started doing dead lifts. LOVE THEM. But, as others have mentioned, it all depends on your goals.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,265 Member
    I totally <kittened> my left knee my sophomore year in high school Football. Did not do squats after that. Fast forward 30+ years I am doing squats (and dead lifts) and absolutely loving it. In fact, I would suggest that my knee is WAY BETTER now than it was before I started squatting. I am pretty much go *kitten*-to-the-grass!

    Key is to find and maintain proper form and do not engage in ego-lifting.

    This is me too. I had a "bad knee" all through my 20s. I always wore a brace for sports, and couldn't sit in a car or on an airplane with my knee bent for long periods of time without serious pain for a few days after.

    I started getting back into heavy weight lifting including squats and lunges (being very careful on form) after the birth of my 3rd kid when I was. My knee is now fine and I'm almost 40.

    OP: Ditto the suggestion on goblet squats. And if you want to try lunges, try stepping backwards so you can control the angle of the front knee. On both, start low, not with the 50 lbs dumbbell. Start with 20 and work your way up.

    I have a knee that doc's told me 12 years ago needed replaced. If you have a knee as structurally bad as mine, you probably shouldn't be doing barbell deadlifts (at least very heavy ones) or squats. With that said, though, I'm 53 now and have no plans on getting the knee replaced anytime soon (they ended up doing an ACL replacement and microfracture surgery, though I had sheered all the meniscus off the bone).

    You can do a lot with heavy Kettlebells. I use 24 kg Kettlebells for a lot. Heavy swings, Goblet squats. Also, you can use them for weighted bridges (killer for hamstring development) and my favorite is probably one legged pendulum deadlifts.

    I do lunges wide like you mentioned, but the bad knee on the back leg is very difficult. I'll also do a lot of set work. Using two 35 lb kettlebells at the gym. Go from squats to deadlifts to military presses. Do a few rounds of those along with one arm KB swings and it's a very effective lower body workout without heavy equipment.

    Dan Johns (the famous strength coach) swore by the 10000 KB swings (500 a day for 20 days spread out over a month) for powerlifting PBs. I think 500 KB swings a day is somewhat risky but if the OP wanted other options, getting two KBs at home is a great (and relatively inexpensive) option to have for leg work.

  • billkansas
    billkansas Posts: 267 Member
    I used to think there were no cardio machines that could build up legs until I took up Indoor rowing seriously. I've packed on 20 lbs of muscle in the three years that I've been rowing. I went from 245 lbs down to 170 at my lowest and now I'm back up to 190 with the same BF I had when I was 170. I row tons (70K a week or so). I still lift (and do plyometrics) but mainly it's the rowing that builds the legs up. I did running, Spinning/Biking for years before that. Nothing close to rowing. My legs and lats, shoulders and back are pretty big now. Plus, I have a semi defined six pack at 53 (no other ab work). Look at pics of Olympic rowers (or even college ones) and compare them to other athletes. It works every major muscle except chest. Many of the world's best rowers don't even lift. A lot of Aussies and New Zealanders only row and they are huge (except the sunken chest!). I do it in part because I do Indoor racing, but also it's efficient as anything. 50 minutes of hard rowing and 150 pushups, 150 or so military presses and that's a great full body workout. I only do added leg workouts because I'm working to go from a local competitive rower to a Regionally competitive one (with the long term goal of racing at the World Indoors at 55 and placing in the top 10 for my age group).

    Rowers now include guys like Connor McGregor and Hugh Jackman, among others. Most MMA fighters all now row indoor. There's a reason why most Cross Fit gyms have two pieces of cardio equipment - the Concept2 rower and an Assault Bike (Watts bike). The guy who trains special forces/Seals - former World class rower and he loves the rower for training our troops (he was University of MI womens' crew coach for years).

    I'm not talking Orange Theory stuff either. I'm talking real rowing (either OTW or a Concept2). Those WaterRowers make great furniture, not great rowing machines.

    Thanks for your post. Definitely moved rowing into my radar.... never would have considered it before. I'll have to give it a try.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,265 Member
    Your welcome Bill. A couple of guys to check out possibly on Instagram for you. Shawn Baker is WR holder on certain sprints for over 50. He was also a WR holder for powerlifting years ago too. Sprints (under 1000m racing) is becoming an indoor rowing niche category onto itself. The Arnold Classic has it now (I'm thinking about doing that this year). "Sprinters" -- rowers that work less than 1000m, use more power and build more bulk. I do way too many meters to build a ton of bulk. Think like 100m runner versus marathoner builds, but easy on the joints.

    Another sprinter is Ross Love. Huge power guy. Also, there's an Aussie former Olympian too (Olympic 2K meter rower) that's since turned to sprints. He's a beast. Sam Loch is his name.

    Most of these guys have some incredible training tips on Instagram. They don't like to do a lot of cardio, and they gear more toward building mass. Sprints are fun! Just get some good form videos. Dark Horse Rowing on YouTube has some really good ones. It's imperative if doing sprints to do them with your legs driving first. Otherwise you can risk back injury. You're talking about generating mass Watts (500 to 900 watts). You want that load to be on your legs, not your back.

    Good luck!
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,265 Member
    One more VERY important thing Bill, unless you're doing sprints on the rower, don't be like all those guys at the gym and put the Damper (not resistance) up to 10! For most guys, the Damper should be no higher than a 5 (and for women, probably a 3 or so). Only during brief sprints should the damper setting be higher. The Damper (what controls how it feels) is supposed to emulate how low your boat sinks in the water due to weight, so putting the Damper up all the way to 10 and then trying to do a longer row is like telling the machine you weigh 450 lbs. Each stroke will be more powerful, but you won't be able to sustain it very long at all. That's another huge reason people don't use the rower. You can check the "Drag Factor" on any machine under the "more" category. Press "more" and then "check Drag Factor". Depending on how dirty the machine is, it will vary. Most men use between a 100 and a 120 DF, depending on preference. More experienced rowers mostly use around 110 to 115 DF tops. You still have to generate the same power, just more strokes to get to the same distance. ErgData (an app for I Phones) allows you to see the lbs per stroke you are generating (both peak and average for each stroke). My "average" stroke is around 87 lbs per stroke (100 peak roughly). Do this 1200 times and tell me it's not a leg workout (my 12000m row 4 times a week at 10m per stroke)!

    An easy way to think about rowing (and drag factor) would be to equate it to having to lift 2000 lbs. Would you try to do it with deadlifts of 400 lbs 5 times or would you try it at 100 lbs X 20? The drag factor is like this. Same amount of work, just a different way of breaking it down.
  • Keto_N_Iron
    Keto_N_Iron Posts: 5,385 Member
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  • JDMac82
    JDMac82 Posts: 3,089 Member
    Your body only responds to the stress you place on it and repairs itself accordingly. If your not taxing the muscles they wont respond. I would encourage you to do leg day as well and focus on moderate weight and reps. Maybe, depending on what your schedule is, do the cardio in the am and then weights in the PM. Or maybe go to a 3/3 schedule. Meaning Weights 3 days a week and Cardio 3 days a week alternating between the two. This way you can achieve balance and strive for your desired fitness level and athletic look.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 26,849 Member
    I used to think there were no cardio machines that could build up legs until I took up Indoor rowing seriously. I've packed on 20 lbs of muscle in the three years that I've been rowing. I went from 245 lbs down to 170 at my lowest and now I'm back up to 190 with the same BF I had when I was 170. I row tons (70K a week or so). I still lift (and do plyometrics) but mainly it's the rowing that builds the legs up. I did running, Spinning/Biking for years before that. Nothing close to rowing. My legs and lats, shoulders and back are pretty big now. Plus, I have a semi defined six pack at 53 (no other ab work). Look at pics of Olympic rowers (or even college ones) and compare them to other athletes. It works every major muscle except chest. Many of the world's best rowers don't even lift. A lot of Aussies and New Zealanders only row and they are huge (except the sunken chest!). I do it in part because I do Indoor racing, but also it's efficient as anything. 50 minutes of hard rowing and 150 pushups, 150 or so military presses and that's a great full body workout. I only do added leg workouts because I'm working to go from a local competitive rower to a Regionally competitive one (with the long term goal of racing at the World Indoors at 55 and placing in the top 10 for my age group).

    Rowers now include guys like Connor McGregor and Hugh Jackman, among others. Most MMA fighters all now row indoor. There's a reason why most Cross Fit gyms have two pieces of cardio equipment - the Concept2 rower and an Assault Bike (Watts bike). The guy who trains special forces/Seals - former World class rower and he loves the rower for training our troops (he was University of MI womens' crew coach for years).

    I'm not talking Orange Theory stuff either. I'm talking real rowing (either OTW or a Concept2). Those WaterRowers make great furniture, not great rowing machines.

    Many/most collegiate/national team (a.k.a. Olympic) rowers lift. Heavy. Lots. At defined phases of the training cycle.

    Rowing is swell. It can build muscle (built most of mine). But my local university rowing teams (men and women, nationally competitive school) weight train. (I've watched the women do it: Multiple plates like freight-train wheels, for legs, I swear. ;)) The women I know who are current and former US national team rowers weight lift(ed) aa part of the elite program. The coaching workshops I attended when getting USRowing coaching certification reinforced the idea that (successful) rowers weight train.

    If nothing else, when your sport is all leg push/upper-body pull, you weight train for muscle balance and injury avoidance, if you're smart.

    Do some rowers skip the weight room? Sure. And when they do, it shows up in articles about them, because it's unusual. But when you look at most elite rowers'physiques, you're looking at the results of huge volumes of rowing; some carefully designed, focused and efficient weight training programs; and some non-rowing cardio.

    But rowing will build strength, and even mass - absolutely. Not as fast or as much as weight training focused on that objective, though.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,265 Member
    edited December 2017
    Depends on which country. Many of the Australians and New Zealanders don't. In the US they do. You certainly can but many don't. It's not that unusual.

    http://row-360.com/natural-born-winners/

    These guys are in a class by themselves. "I can honestly say I haven't lifted a weight in four years...". This from the best pair, by far, for many years. The Aussies and the New Zealanders historically have not lifted much and have been among the most successful in the world.

    Can you lift? Yes, I do. But many don't. It is very uncommon in the US but the US historically has not been a great rowing nation. I'm in an Indoor Rowing "club" with many, many of the current World record holders from all over the world. Many don't lift at all. The current Masters (OTW) at my age (over 50) four team -- none of them lift (Australian). I know the Australian Indoor record holder over 65, shattered the record. Also, does not lift. The outdoor Olympic coaches just asked him to come in to study him and how he's kept such an incredible Vo2 max into his 60s.

    Overall, to be highly competitive, I've seen that taller rowers don't need to lift all that much. Shorter ones certainly do. They need to make up that power somewhere.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for leg day, but the OP was asking if Elliptical would build muscles. I simply said that rowing would be a much better alternative and that even many top, world-class rowers don't lift (mostly in a few select, but very successful countries).
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 26,849 Member
    Depends on which country. Many of the Australians and New Zealanders don't. In the US they do. You certainly can but many don't. It's not that unusual.

    http://row-360.com/natural-born-winners/

    These guys are in a class by themselves. "I can honestly say I haven't lifted a weight in four years...". This from the best pair, by far, for many years. The Aussies and the New Zealanders historically have not lifted much and have been among the most successful in the world.

    Can you lift? Yes, I do. But many don't. It is very uncommon in the US but the US historically has not been a great rowing nation. I'm in an Indoor Rowing "club" with many, many of the current World record holders from all over the world. Many don't lift at all. The current Masters (OTW) at my age (over 50) four team -- none of them lift (Australian). I know the Australian Indoor record holder over 65, shattered the record. Also, does not lift. The outdoor Olympic coaches just asked him to come in to study him and how he's kept such an incredible Vo2 max into his 60s.

    Overall, to be highly competitive, I've seen that taller rowers don't need to lift all that much. Shorter ones certainly do. They need to make up that power somewhere.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for leg day, but the OP was asking if Elliptical would build muscles. I simply said that rowing would be a much better alternative and that even many top, world-class rowers don't lift (mostly in a few select, but very successful countries).

    LOL. Yup, Australia and New Zealand produce great rowers, in numbers disproportionate to their population. Go, AUS and NZL! And some, maybe even many (though I'm a skeptic) rowers don't lift.

    For an excellent cardio workout that also builds muscle, rowing is a good pick, possibly the best pick. It's a monster number of reps, with load.

    In this category, I'd recommend it, as you do. (Like I said, it built most of any muscle I have . . . though I'm a l'il ol lady and don't do your 70K a week. Well, I did this week, but that's an exception. ;) 30-50K OTW weekly, in season, is my niche, mostly).

    If the objective is muscle mass or strength increase per se, rowing isn't the best pick; weight training is.

    IOW, I hear (and share) your enthusiasm, but you may be overselling the sport. Telling people to look at rowers' bodies in general - beautiful though they are ;) - because rowing alone built those bodies? Oversell. :)

    And dissing Orange Theory as an aside? Unnecessary. Their objectives are not your objectives.

    Rowing is pretty great, though.
  • Noreenmarie1234
    Noreenmarie1234 Posts: 7,380 Member
    edited December 2017
    I never do legs only elliptical on resistance and biking and have killer thighs and calves. People ask me if I lift/squat all the time. The elliptical I use has incline as well and I put it on maximum resistance.
  • benchismybff
    benchismybff Posts: 310 Member
    Remember, squats are THE BEST exercise for burning calories. Always squat.
  • benchismybff
    benchismybff Posts: 310 Member
    JerSchmare wrote: »
    Remember, squats are THE BEST exercise for burning calories. Always squat.

    Not everyone can squat.

    Body weight squats, hack squats, ect. There are ways to get the work in, if you want to.