Is the ElliptiGO the Best Cross-Training Tool for Runners?

The ElliptiGO, a portable half bike, half elliptical hybrid, is not only the latest cross-training trend for runners, but it's also perhaps the only cross-training tool that closely mimics the running motion and can be used outdoors.

Cross-training can be the saving grace for any runner interested in longevity in the sport as well as for new runners looking for ways to increase fitness without additional pounding. In fact, most coaches and training plans advise that healthy runners of all levels incorporate some amount of running-specific strength training, such as core work, drills and single-leg exercises, and low-impact cross-training, such as swimming, cycling or riding the elliptical, into their routines.

More: 6 Running Experts on the Benefits of Cross-Training

If you've seen somebody riding the ElliptiGO, you likely did a double take and wondered, "What in the world is that thing?"

Co-founder and ElliptiGO co-president Bryan Pate is growing used to that reaction. The prototype that he and Brent Teal, ElliptiGO co-founder and a mechanical engineer, originally fashioned was a bulky, big-wheeled bike that lacked the streamlined design and bright colors of the current models.

"Don't judge it until you've tried it," says Pate. "It looks different, but it definitely works and provides the best cross-training experience available on the market today."

The video below shows the ElliptiGO in action; pro runner Lauren Fleshman and retired runners Adam Goucher and Ed Torres explain how they use the ElliptiGO to stay fit.

Your Active.com Running Editor Tested the ElliptiGO

I responded with bewilderment the first time I saw somebody riding an ElliptiGO on the street—maybe part of that was because I feared for the man's safety, as he was riding directly in traffic—but it did catch my eye. Like most runners, I've been injured and had to drop out of races because of injuries, so I've completed my fair share of cross-training over the years cooped up inside a gym, starting at a television instead of breathing fresh air and feeling the wind in my hair. Sometimes I would rebel against the notion of another 60 minutes on the elliptical and would sleep in or skip exercise altogether out of boredom.

More: How to Cope With the 5 Stages of Injury Grief

Although the elliptical machine resembles the running motion, I don't feel like I get a stimulus that's close to running when using the machine, even with high resistance, climbing or doing intervals. It was with this skeptical perspective that I approached testing the ElliptiGO.

It took one or two shaky push-offs and a clumsy steering maneuver (or three) to get the hang of riding the ElliptiGO, but it was as easy as riding a bike. Ripping down the road doing intervals and climbing steep hills can deliver great cardiovascular workouts without the impact of running. What I found most beneficial was how the ElliptiGO promotes increased hip extension (whereas running makes my hips tighter) and activation of the glutes and hamstrings—notoriously weak spots for most runners.

More: 8 Exercises to Strengthen Your Hips, Hamstrings and Glutes

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