Nautilus TreadClimber - yay or nay?
January 19, 2011 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Is the Nautilus Treadclimber at my gym REALLY as awesome at burning calories as it says it is?

I hate cardio work but love weights - but now I'm starting to get a bit of a hard to shift beer belly (about to turn 28 and I don't seem to be able to eat and drink as much as I used to and get away with it).

I can't do running (flat feet) so I've been using the "Nautilus Treadclimber" instead. It's a bit like the one featured here. It's essentially a treadmill split in half with each side moving up and down to meet your stride.

I jump on it and put it up to maximum speed (4mph) and maximum movement (the elevation of the treadmills) and stick at it for 30min, and burn 300+ calories. I can do it no problem.

That is a LOT of calories for something I find rather easy. 15min on a cross-trainer will only shift about 100 calories and it completely kills me.

Is the TreadClimber making accurate guess on my calorie burning? What are everyone else's experience of these machines?
posted by lemonfridge to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have the same experience with the Elliptical machine. I burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes and while I break I sweat, I don't feel like dying, but I do feel like dying when I burn 220 calories in 30 minutes running on the treadmill.

However, I lost more weight going for longer periods of time on the Elliptical than doing an exercise on a machine that seemed "more intense" because I couldn't do it as long.

AND YET, the plot thickens, because there's a possibility that you're not doing it right. I've worked on those treadclimber machines and they are RIDICULOUSLY difficult. Are you swinging your legs out all of the way? It's easy as pie if you just bounce up and down, but if you swing your stride out (there's a little stride light on the top left, and you want your stride to go into the red zone), it suddenly becomes MURDER.

Every body is different, though. I have friends who can run for miles, ponytails swinging in the wind, all smiles and burned calories and oooh look at me I'm running a 5k before work every day! After an embarrassingly short period of time running, I am keeled over, ready to barf, feeling like Pizza The Hut. It's just how I'm wired.

So don't ask us, ask your heart. Get a heart rate monitor, and if your heart rate gets up to the right place, you're burning calories and you can track it that way and be satisfied your work is actually useful. Something like this one.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:15 AM on January 19, 2011

I think the calorie calculators on these things assume you are not carrying any weight with your arms. It's simple to "cheat" with the handholds to make it easier, which can make a big difference depending on the type of machine.
posted by exogenous at 5:15 AM on January 19, 2011

On the one hand, it's almost certainly a pretty optimistic guess. Just for giggles, I often tell the elliptical machine I usually use that I weigh 900 pounds and am 98 years old... that way I burn like 700 calories in half an hour instead of the usual 250-300. [joking]But I only do that if I feel like I need a particularly intense workout.[/joking]

On the other hand, some machines (like ellipticals) are AFAIK designed to extract the maximum amount of calories per perceived effort, so you'd expect burning 300 calories on some machines to feel easier than on others.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:22 AM on January 19, 2011

In general, yes and no. They are designed to be pretty optimistic - they assume you're doing the exercise "with good form" (not leaning on the arm thingies, full strides, etc.), and they assume that you're relatively new to cardio exercise so your body is really inefficient at using its muscles. The more fit you get, the more efficiently your muscles work, and the less accurate the calorie counters are.

Some people who use heart rate monitors to estimate calories burned (no, I don't know how they work) report that they differ from elliptical readings by as much as 40%, so one or both of them must be wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 5:34 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The numbers shown are calculations and not actual measures of calories burned. You should probably check with a trainer to see if you are using the machine as it was intended. I know on the elliptical machine I can enter my weight which presumably gives a better calculation for calories burned than just a default value. If you can easily climb stairs at work or elsewhere then maybe the machine numbers are accurate?
posted by JJ86 at 6:11 AM on January 19, 2011

I think I found this short article on proper form on an ellpitical trainer via an and have found it helpful. No bouncing!
posted by Ness at 7:15 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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