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to hold or not to hold? I saw someone at the gym today not using the handles and this question came up in my head...


which one provides a better work out?

8 Replies (last)

As I understand it, you are sabotaging your workout if you hold on to something stationary. So moving handles or arms moving naturally at your sides is your best bet.

the handles are moving, and i try to kind of punch when they're going forward and also suck my stomach in. i guess it could be good to do it without handles because it'll make you balance a little more, but i think you'll burn more calories in general if you use the handles.

If you are on a treadmill, emily is right - holding on to the side limits your workout. But for elliptical, you aren't holding yourself up at all - you are just getting your upper body moving as well. You can use your arms to pull and push the handles, to vary what part of you is doing the work, but I don't think it reduces the calories you are burning.

hold moving handles = work arms (a little)

don't hold handles = stabilize core

I can go faster if I let go of the handles (more strides/min), but I can push harder if I do use the handles (higher resistance). So... to not answer your question, they both have benefits and I'm not sure that either is "better."

Also, you only work your arms if you do it on purpose (actively push and pull). I see girls holding the handles and getting their bony arms yanked back and forth. That isn't helping anything.

I don't like to hold the handles. Personal choice is my guess.

I use a machine at the gym called the total body and I use the handles. It forces you to extend your arms and keep them moving. I think this is a better workout. Adds resistance. On the treadmill I always move my arms. Sometimes boxing motions or other swinging type motions. The more moving the better. May not look very graceful though. Tongue out

I use the elliptical on the days I don't run and strength train on those days as well. Usually I'll do a 20-25 min workout at level 13 going anywhere from 6.5-8 mph. I'm tryin to save my knees a bit from the damage it gets from running...


During my workout I'm huffing and puffing (I use the heart rate monitor and I'm in the 150's-160's) so I feel like I'm getting a nice burn. I do use the handles but I feel like I just use them to move my arms--all the work is done by my legs. I guess I'll keep doing what I'm doing then?

For some reason I thought the elliptical worked out both your arms and legs evenly but I guess I was wrong in thinking that?

I mean, you're not really working either- you're improving your cardiovascular fitness. If you want to tone your arms/legs, you need to do weight training.

8 Replies