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You Asked: You're Supposed to Hold the Handles, Right?

You Asked: You're Supposed to Hold the Handles, Right?

In a recent post about how cheating on your workouts could mean you are cheating on your health, I used holding onto the handles while on a cardio machine as an example of cheating. One user didn't understand, so I wanted to clarify.

"I hold onto the elliptical handles . . . I mean, you have to move them. I'm a little confused by this."

Good point! And I think I can help you understand it better. To find out my answer, just


I really meant this comment to be geared toward the folks who hold onto the machine for dear life by leaning their weight into the side bars of the treadmill, stair climber, elliptical, etc. Using the handles for balance is OK, it's when you start to use the handles to relieve some of the resistance that it becomes a problem. Plus, since you often have to lean over to hold on to the machine, you're putting yourself at risk for injury because your body will not be properly aligned.

On an elliptical machine specifically, try not to hold on to the machine for the purpose of making it easier. In fact, using your arms to move the movable handles is altogether different and is often part of the exercise; it may even lead to a greater calorie burn because you are enabled to get a fuller body workout. But think about letting go of the movable handles too, as this will add another element to your exercise by working your core (as you compensate using the rest of your body to stay balanced). Try this fun routine to get you used to letting go of the handles every once in a while.


Join The Conversation
joanne_lummy joanne_lummy 8 years
Definatly answered questions i had about whether its any benefit or not, thanks Fitsugar
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
does it make a difference if you are only holding on for dear life once your legs alone can't handle the workout anymore? I know that on a stair machine and when just taking the stairs, after a while I HAVE to hold on because it feels like my legs won't move unless i can make them
crystalemily crystalemily 8 years
Finally - an article about this! It drives me nuts when I see people crank up the incline on the treadmill, but are totally hanging on for dear life. What kind of workout do they think they are getting? They are mostly injuring their backs. Same with the stairmaster - most people hold themselves up with their arms. and barely get a leg workout.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
thank you for saying this cause i was almost a bit upset after the post since i'm an elliptical girl and i always thought that i was doing something right. it's funny though cause there was a girl at the gym that i went to in FL and she would put her ENTIRE body weight on the machine and stick her butt out and there was NO way that she would get a workout at all from that. in that case i get it...but the way that i do it, i think that i'm diff...cause i'm just using the handles to add to my workout.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I always put the resistance fairly high on the elliptical, so I have to use the handles to help me move the pedals forward. I get quite the upper body workout by doing that. You don't get as good of a workout if you set the resistance low, don't use the handles, and let momentum take over for you.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
I would probably kill myself if I didn't use the handles on the Stairmaster! It seems like a disaster waiting to happen. I don't use it to cheat (or I don't feel like I do).
aka-Daria aka-Daria 8 years
oh no, i HAVE to hold on while on the elliptical. if not...VROOM...there i go on my ass.
mtiger mtiger 8 years
Thanks for answering me, fit! I do use the handles, but I use them to workout my arms, no to make it easier. Thanks for clearing this up! :)
Livvy-P Livvy-P 8 years
princess - i feel the same way! there is no way that i would be able to focus on a book with all the bouncing around. i just pump my arms, and that helps me stay balanced. i do need to grab the handles, though, when i drink my water. tilting my head back throws me off balance.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
Maybe I do too strenuous of a routine or something, but my balance is very good, I'm pretty strong and still need to hold on to something on the elliptical. No WAY could I read on there - impossible with all the sweat and bouncing around!
Tiger_Lily Tiger_Lily 8 years
When I read that post I was wondering the same thing! Good thing mtiger (lol she even has a similar nickname to mine) wasn't too lazy to ask :)
lintacious lintacious 8 years
I actually have always been curious about the elliptical because I don't like moving my arms with the bars and would rather just move them naturally. Is there anything advantage to using the bars?
rickimc rickimc 8 years
I read on the elliptical, holding my book with both hands.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I used to always almost fall off the elliptical but I've gotten better at balance so now I don't use the handles at all. I just pump my arms like I would it I was running.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
LOL If I let go of the elliptaical handles, I will fall! I have lost my sense of balance since developing vertigo, and even when not experiencing vertigo, i am not the best balancer! I try though, although it looks funny, because I will let go and have to grab right back on after a few seconds lololol
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