Graduation Date

Fall 2017

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Kinesiology, option Exercise Science

Committee Chair Name

Justus Ortega

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Boe Burrus

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Tina Manos

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Elliptical trainers are machines that were designed to mimic the motion of running while reducing the ground reaction forces and joint loading on the lower body. As a result, endurance runners commonly use it as a cross-training modality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ramp incline and resistance in elliptical exercise on metabolic cost and lower limb muscle activation patterns. A secondary purpose was to compare the metabolic cost and muscle activation patterns of elliptical exercise to running. Methods: Gross metabolic cost and muscle activation for eight muscles of the leg were measured during elliptical exercise across combinations of three levels of ramp inclines (20, 23, and 27 degree slope) and three levels of resistance (3, 6, and 9), as well as during running exercise at 6.7 mph. Results: Increases in ramp incline resulted in a 2-6% increase in metabolic cost (p p = 0.007) and 30% increase in Tibialis Anterior activity (p = 0.003). Increases in resistance levels resulted in 30% greater metabolic cost (p < 0.001) and higher average muscle activity in five of the eight measured muscles (p = 0.001-0.004). Running elicited greater peak and average muscle activation across the gait cycle compared to elliptical exercise when at a similar metabolic cost and heart rate response. Conclusion: Changes in resistance levels have a greater effect on metabolic cost and muscle activation than changes in incline in elliptical exercise. Additionally, elliptical exercise has lower muscle activity requirements when compared with running at a similar metabolic cost.

Citation Style

J Biomechanics