Elliptical machines are a fantastic way to work some full-body cardio into your life. A stationary machine with two-foot pedals and two pairs of handles, it simulates walking, running, and stair climbing. Because the handles and foot pedals are moved in tandem, it is easy to work your entire body and isolate specific muscle groups for optimal cardiovascular training.
Once on the elliptical, the user pushes one-foot pedal forward and pulls an opposing handle toward their body; doing this moves the opposite arm and foot pedal. Repeating this action on the other sides quickly simulates a walking or running motion.
While using an elliptical, specific muscles such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, back, biceps, abs, and triceps are activated. It is even possible to switch direction and ‘walk’ or ‘run’ backward, isolating different muscles and giving increased flexibility to a workout routine.
Benefits of Using Elliptical Machines
What are the benefits of the elliptical machine?
- 1Boost Stamina & Cardio Capacity
With continued use and a slow buildup of time spent on the elliptical, users will notice that their stamina has increased and their cardio ability has improved.
- 2Burn Calories
Depending on the regularity of use, resistance, incline, and effort, elliptical users can burn hundreds of calories within 30-60 minutes. Burned calories shred body fat, particularly in the limbs and core.
- 3Whole Body Workout
Due to the arm and foot movements, the elliptical is designed to work both the upper and lower body at the same time during a workout.
- 4Speeds Up Weight Loss
As you work both the upper and lower body and can switch direction, it is easy to shred body fat and burn calories to lose weight relatively quickly.
- 5Improve Balance & Mobility
As you need to move while standing upright, it is necessary to maintain balance while on an elliptical. While using one may feel unusual at first, it does improve balance and mobility over time.
- 6Less Stress on the Joints
Unlike with treadmills, your feet and hands never leave the elliptical, immediately removing any unnecessary impact on your joints and reducing the chance of injury.
- 7Easy for Beginners
While ellipticals may look intimidating to new users, ellipticals are easy enough to pick up after a couple of minutes. This makes them an excellent choice for those just starting their fitness journey.
- 8Strengthen Weak Leg Muscles
Another elliptical benefit is that, due to the pushing and pressing movement, this machine naturally strengthens weak or injured leg muscles over time.
- 9Builds your Musculoskeletal Health
Thanks to the increased blood flow and exercise, ellipticals have been known to increase musculoskeletal health and increase bone strength.
- 10Multitasking Capability
The elliptical is an inherent multitasking machine as it works the entire body at once. That being said, it is also possible to watch a movie or listen to a podcast while working out.
Drawbacks of Elliptical Trainers
There are both elliptical benefits and disadvantages to all models, however. Compared to weight training and treadmill running, ellipticals produce lower gains in leg strength and provide less overall improvements in bone density. Due to the slightly unnatural movement of elliptical machines, the body’s muscles activate differently and can cause some injuries in the future.
Who Will Benefit the Most from Ellipticals?
When appropriately used, ellipticals are beneficial to anyone who wants to give them a try. However, ellipticals are most useful for those who are healing from injuries or people with joint issues. Older people who want to maintain good health in a safe way may also want to consider trying an elliptical machine workout.
Maximizing Elliptical Benefits with HIIT
High-intensity interval training is a type of workout that consists of short bursts of high effort movement followed by shorter, more relaxed movements. The process is often repeated at least ten times. As the user controls their speed, an elliptical is a great machine for doing HIIT training with. One example of a beginner's elliptical workout is:
For a more intense HIIT workout, check out this video:
Tips in Using Ellipticals
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I exercise on an elliptical machine?
Using an elliptical 3-5 times a week and switching between HIIT and longer sessions provides a balanced and regular routine for optimal fitness.
Do ellipticals help in toning my stomach?
Using ellipticals tones the entire body and shreds body fat, it does tone the stomach alongside other areas.
How do ellipticals and treadmills differ from each other when it comes to the benefits?
While both are great cardiovascular machines that are capable of simulating running and walking, ellipticals are not as hard on the joints as treadmills, and treadmills are more natural in their movement.
Which is better of the two? An elliptical trainer or an arc trainer?
An arc trainer reproduces the user’s natural movement and is easier on the joints. An elliptical is common, highly functional, and not quite as easy on the joints.
Are there any safety issues or risks associated with using ellipticals?
Most safety issues come when mounting and unmounting the elliptical. When getting on and off of one and using one, make sure always to have at least one hand on a stationary handle the entire time. Be careful not to lift your feet off of the foot pedals while in motion.
Whether you are looking to begin your fitness journey, are recovering from an injury, or are looking to spice up your workout routine, an elliptical is an excellent choice for cardio training. Before purchasing one for yourself, make sure to consider your health, budget, space (research small ellipticals here), and workout preferences. For more information regarding ellipticals or would like to view more options, please consider other articles and ratings and comparison guides on our website.
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