The makers and promoters of the Gazelle exercise machine claim the equipment helps you lose weight, improve cardio function and tone muscle. The basic components of the machine are two foot pedals that glide and two handlebars that move in opposition to the pedals. Because of the amount of resistance it offers, some question whether the machine can help you create effective workouts. If you are not a competitive bodybuilder looking to build maximum muscle mass, the Gazelle will help you create aerobic workouts and provide a variety of muscular benefits.
As with any other piece of exercise equipment, the Gazelle will only provide health and fitness benefits if you use it regularly and correctly. Some models of the Gazelle offer no resistance other than your body's weight. Using a Gazelle with a resistance settings at a higher setting requires more muscular effort, helping you tone and build muscle and improve muscular endurance. Using the machine with less resistance creates higher-intensity exercises for cardio workouts. If you let the momentum of your body weight move the machine, you will use less muscular effort and get decreased results. If you have large muscles, the amount of resistance the Gazelle provides may not allow you to increase muscle mass significantly.
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If you are new to exercise, you can use a Gazelle at a slower pace to burn calories while you gradually increase your cardiovascular stamina and build muscular endurance, which is your ability to perform activity over time. You can generally attribute the difference between two people, one who can exercise for 30 minutes without stopping, and one who can't, to stamina and endurance. Use the Gazelle's lowest resistance setting to allow you work at a pace that is similar to brisk walking.
You will burn more calories and challenge your cardiorespiratory system more if you work at a faster pace for 20 minutes or longer. Increasing the pace at which you work on the Gazelle, raising the resistance level, or a combination of both will help you create effective cardio workouts. If you raise your heart rate by increasing the resistance level on the machine, but this tires you too quickly, lower the resistance setting. If you raise your heart rate by moving the arm levers and feet pedals quickly, with little resistance, you may not get enough muscle workout.
Well-conditioned athletes can use a Gazelle to do sprint training workouts, which consists of high-intensity bouts of exercise for two minutes or less, with one or more minutes of rest between each sprint. If you are using the Gazelle for aerobic workouts, fitness expert Tony Little, who promotes the Gazelle, suggests adding several 30- to 90-seconds "Power Sprints" to your workouts.
The Gazelle has no motor and requires you to use your muscles to move the machine's levers and pedals. Using more resistance on models that offer this feature helps build and tone muscles. Using the machine longer helps improve muscular endurance. Decreasing the use of your legs during a workout increases your upper-body effort, while using less arm effort improves your lower-body workout. Moving your body differently on the machine lets you target specific muscles. For example, standing on your toes works your calves more. Leaning backward engages your hamstrings, buttocks and hips more. Keeping your elbows in and leaning forward works your biceps and chest, while moving your elbows out requires more triceps and lat effort. If you stand sideways on the machine, you will use your outer and inner leg muscles.