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Why Does the Arc Trainer Burn More Calories?


Why is it when I exercise on the ARC trainer, I’m burning more calories than I do when I work out on an elliptical at the same heart rate, but at even greater effort? 

The Arc Trainer is proven to burn more calories than the elliptical,  allowing users to increase workload at a lower perceived exertion, thereby encouraging exercise at higher levels of energy750AT Arc Trainer demand.  Since most people adjust the workout intensity of cardio devices to their perception of effort or heart rate response, then it is most likely they will be working at higher intensities, and thus consume more oxygen and burn more calories on the ARC than they would on elliptical trainers.  As an added bonus, they can very well achieve this in less time. This article explains how calorie burn is calculated and why the Arc Trainer is proven to help you burn more calories.

Energy expenditure is most often reflected in the number of calories that we burn during exercise.  A calorie is the amount of heat required to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Centigrade.  Therefore, the total caloric expenditure during exercise is really a measure of the amount of heat given off by the body during the activity.  Measuring this directly is very complicated and impractical, involving a sealed air chamber and water bath.  There are, however, indirect measures of caloric output.

The best indirect measure of caloric expenditure is the volume of oxygen consumed during exercise.  There is a very linear relationship between oxygen consumption and calories expended.  In fact, the body utilizes, on average, approximately 4.8 calories for each liter of oxygen that it consumes.

We could apply a standard measure of oxygen consumption to different forms of exercise, such as running at 5.5 miles per hour, multiply that by the duration of the exercise bout, and then again by 4.8, yielding total calories consumed during that exercise interval.  This is, in fact, the way many devices compute caloric expenditure. The problem with this method is that there are many factors, such as body weight or fitness level, which may alter the volume of oxygen consumed during exercise.  It is necessary, therefore, to actually measure the volume of oxygen consumed during exercise, using metabolic analysis equipment.  This too is both complex and impractical outside of a medical or university laboratory.

A second level of indirect calorimetry involves the use of heart rate.  In most people there is a direct relationship between heart rate and the amount of oxygen consumed.  In fact, many prediction equations which calculate oxygen consumption from heart rate have been established.  Thus, by applying the associative property we can see that if oxygen consumption equates to caloric expenditure, and heart rate equates to oxygen consumption, then heart rate equates to caloric expenditure.  This, in fact, is the principle upon which heart rate monitors can calculate calorie burn.  There is, of course, one caveat.

According to Astrand and Rodahl, when using heart rate to compare caloric expenditure on two different devices, it is necessary to ensure that both devices utilize the same large muscle groups, since cardiac output will be influenced by the number and size of working muscles, and the relative level of work performed by those muscles.  Thus, if two devices having similar movements, involve different muscles, and those muscles are working at different percentages of their maximum capacity, then the caloric expenditure from those devices cannot be predicted from the heart rates achieved during exercise.  This explains the difference, in caloric expenditure, between the Cybex Arc Trainer and other elliptical products.

An independent study, conducted by Florida Atlantic University , revealed that the Cybex Arc trainer is biomechanically more efficient than the leading elliptical trainer, and in fact, is better at activating the large muscles of the lower body.  Where the Arc Trainer was effective at involving the knee and hip muscles, the elliptical’s movement pattern concentrated the muscular effort at the knee, and could not effectively engage the large muscles of the hip.  This difference in muscular activation has a significant effect on the metabolic demands of the two devices.

In a second study, conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, it was demonstrated that the level of perceived exertion and the heart rate response of subjects exercising on the Arc Trainer significantly lower than those of subjects exercising at the same percentage of energy expenditure on a leading elliptical trainer.  The difference in perceived effort and heart rate response is directly related to the biomechanical efficiency of the Arc Trainer.

In order to bring heart rate on the Arc Trainer up to the same level as the elliptical, therefore, subjects would have to increase their workload and oxygen consumption, thereby exercising at a higher level of caloric expenditure.  Since most people adjust the workout intensity of cardio devices to their perception of effort or heart rate response, then it is most likely that they will be working at a higher intensity, and thus consume more oxygen and burn more calories on the Arc Trainer than they would on elliptical trainers, and could very well achieve this in a shorter period of time.

Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.
Executive Director, CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science

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Dr. Juris earned his Doctorate in Motor Learning from Columbia University in 1993, followed by a variety of positions in higher education, rehabilitative medicine, professional sports, and fitness. Paul Juris, Ed.D. was named Executive Director of the CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science in January of 2007

[1] Astrand, P.O. and Rodahl, K. (1986).  Textbook of Work Physiology: Physiological Bases of Exercise. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.

Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment.  Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. For medical advice please consult a doctor. 




This quote doesn't sounds inaccurate to me. "Therefore, the total caloric expenditure during exercise is really a measure of the amount of heat given off by the body during the activity" 
I don't have the PhD, but it seems to me energy can be converted to heat, or to kinetic energy. They would both burn energy/calories. If all the effort in energy you used went strictly into heat generation, there would be no movement.
Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 6:17 PM by Tom
Posted @ Sunday, July 17, 2011 8:56 AM by H
I’m confused about the original comment. If you feel that it is not an inaccurate statement, why dispute it? I’m assuming you meant it is not an accurate statement. In fact it is accurate (I don’t have a PhD either.) The earth has a gravitational pull, molecules having mass……….resulting in friction and air resistance (to name a few.) The human body takes chemical energy and converts it into kinetic energy with heat as the byproduct. For a better explanation of the process I recommend looking up an illustrated example of cellular aerobic respiration with the molecular break down.  
But, I do understand why at first glance the statement seems false.
Posted @ Saturday, November 12, 2011 2:42 AM by Kar
I forgot to mention that after cellular respiration one must look into ATP hydrolysis, where stored chemical energy (ATP) is utilized for kinetic energy……
Posted @ Saturday, November 12, 2011 3:04 AM by kar
I don't know about all the scientific stuff but I don't know that any calorie calculation can be totally accurate because there are so many factors, weight, heart rate, o2 intake, etc. I love the arc trainer at my gym. I'm a runner and it is seriously the best cross trainer. I have bad knees and on my xtrain day I need the arc workout! I will say this article is nice and great information. I am definitely sharing it with others.
Posted @ Monday, December 26, 2011 9:56 AM by janet
What is the equation to figure out how many calories are burned by an arc trainer in one hour based upon body weight???
Posted @ Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:57 PM by J
Hi J- Good question on the equation to calculate calories. There is no unified equation. It’s a look up table in the code based on empirical tests which takes into account body weight, resistance selected, Incline selected and Speed to anticipate a caloric burn rate. 
The proof that the Arc Trainer burns more calories than an elliptical trainer had nothing to do with that calculation though. That was based on an actual VO2 measurement comparison between the two different devices (Arc and Elliptical) where users were set up to work at the same level of perceived exertion for a set period of time. That VO2 measurement was then converted to Calories per hour and summed into a total caloric consumption. What the display says at that point is irrelevant since it’s an actual measurement.Let us know if you have any questions! 
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 4:11 PM by Marybeth Fottler
I love the Arc Trainer. Its the only machine that i will use when I am at the gym. Its my best friend. LOL. I have been using it now for about 3months and i can tell the difference everywhere in my body. I have dropped about 42lbs using the Arc Trainer. Yay for me.
Posted @ Monday, April 30, 2012 9:39 AM by Lanta
Arc Trainer
Posted @ Thursday, July 12, 2012 2:12 PM by Brandon
When I exersize on a treadmill for 45 mins. I burn about 500 calories according to the calorie counter. On the arc trainer for the same 45 mins. I burn about 600 calories. But on the treadmill my heart rate is greater than 120bpm while on the trainer less than 110. how is that explained?
Posted @ Monday, March 11, 2013 4:59 PM by allan sussman
@ Allan Sussman 
The reason you see two different calorie values at different heart rates, is because the calculations for the treadmill and Arc Trainer are different. 
Keep in mind that ALL caloric calculations are estimates. What you're experiencing is the output from two different types of estimates, one that uses speed and incline and one that is based off of wattage. 
I suggest refraining from a comparison between the two devices, and instead, looking at the output from within a device as a benchmark for future exercise sessions. 
Hope that helps.
Posted @ Friday, April 05, 2013 10:39 AM by Dr. Paul Juris
I have been using the Arc trainer for just over a month. I really love it but I have found that I need to reduce the indicated calories burned by about 1/3 when I roll it in to my calories consumed.
Posted @ Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:53 AM by E Berry
I am using this Arc-Trainer exercise machine from last two years.I really enjoying doing workout on that machine.
Posted @ Sunday, August 18, 2013 6:18 AM by sunalini suradkar
It is True:Arc-Trainer is Best of Best !!!!! Total satisfaction it gives you. I love this machine. From last 2 years my top priority is doing workout on ARC-TRAINER. 
Posted @ Sunday, August 18, 2013 6:31 AM by sunalini suradkar
ARC training does help a lot in burning more calories than elliptical training. Calorie calculation can be totally fluctuating because there are so many factors, weight, heart rate, O2 intake, water intake etc. It is the best cross trainer. This is a very informative article for fitness enthusiasts.  
Posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 6:31 AM by Jeet Chowhan
Nice read! I like the suggestions.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:07 AM by Briny
The Arc trainer is one cardio machine I've not dominated yet. My leg muscles feel much more used on it than the treadmill. After having fluid drained off a knee and a cortisone shot I'm enjoying this machine since it places no real impact on those joints. 
Posted @ Thursday, April 03, 2014 11:27 AM by Chris Fowler
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