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The Best Elliptical Workouts

Use an Elliptical for Great Cardio and Low Impact Workouts

There are various ways to get an excellent cardio workout from home. Treadmills have been around for decades, and there is always the trusty stair-stepper. However, both of these machines can put a great deal of stress on your joints. Then there is the elliptical machine.

Over the last three decades, the elliptical has become an increasingly popular piece of exercise equipment. Here are some benefits to explain why elliptical workouts have become so popular, followed by some common questions about using an elliptical.

The Benefits

best ellipticals

Various pieces of fitness equipment provide different benefits. Likewise, there are multiple advantages to using an elliptical as opposed to a treadmill, exercise bicycle or stair-stepper. You can burn calories and build strength using an elliptical as well. Here's an explanation of five benefits of using an elliptical machine.

1. Increases Aerobic Capacity

Hitting a target heart rate is essential for you to maximize the aerobic benefits of a workout. With an elliptical workout, you can push yourself to this optimal level without the unnecessary pounding on your joints.

This is possibly the most significant advantage of an elliptical machine over other forms of cardio equipment. Many beginners ask themselves the question, is the elliptical good cardio? Because of the increase in aerobic capacity, it is a great cardio machine.

2. Low-impact

Increasing the aerobic capacity during a workout is target number one. To reach and maintain this level of aerobic benefit, the length of your workout is essential. Again, to help increase the duration of aerobic exercise, elliptical benefits from the non-impact motion of the platforms.

3. Total Body

Incorporate the movement of your arms when pulling and pushing on the handles, and you have a total body workout. By altering the resistance levels during your workouts, you can also build strength and muscle tone while burning off calories.

4. Lower-Body

The lower body is the primary target of an elliptical. It provides a combination movement of gliding and gentle rotation that is easy on your joints. You can work every muscle in your lower body as well.

Pedaling forward mainly exercises your calves and thighs, while the reverse motion helps develop the hamstrings and gluteus muscles.

5. Calories Burned

The final benefit of an elliptical workout, as opposed to other fitness machines, blends each of the previous four. Since you can work out longer at higher aerobic intensity, you'll burn more calories.

The ability to combine both upper and lower body movements further increases the total calorie burn. Calculating your total calories burned must consider your weight and the length of each session.

On average, a 120-pound person will burn approximately 540 calories during a moderate one-hour training session. Using the same weight and one-hour length of workout, and this same person would burn 168 calories using a treadmill at 3 mph.

Questions and Answers

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Do elliptical machines help lose belly fat?

Since you can exercise for more extended periods on an elliptical machine without undue stress on your joints, you will burn more calories. Calories are the chief cause of belly fat, so elliptical machines will help you lose belly fat.

Is the elliptical good to lose weight?

This answer is yes as well. Beyond allowing you to exercise for more extended periods, using an elliptical machine burns nearly triple the number of calories per workout. Therefore, they are a great way to lose weight.

Can you get a good workout on an elliptical machine?

You can get more than just a good workout on an elliptical machine. You can go both forwards and backward to work different muscle groups in your legs, plus the push and pull motion of the handles will exercise your upper body as well.

How long should you workout on the elliptical machine? 

The length of your elliptical workouts should be determined by your fitness level. You can get a quick workout in 15 to 20 minutes, but to maximize calorie burn and muscle toning, elliptical workouts should be between 30 minutes and one hour.

Are elliptical machines better than treadmills?

While this question can involve personal preference, the physiological answer is definitely yes. No matter whether you walk, jog or run on a treadmill, there is a degree of stress on your joints, but when you use an elliptical machine, there is virtually little or no stress.

Workout Programs

Here are four basic workouts you can do on your elliptical machine. Each one can be helpful depending on your particular long and short-term fitness goals. Remember, even if you're working out on your home elliptical, you should be sure to have a medical checkup before starting any fitness program.

Beginner Workout

A good beginner workout will target multiple body parts, but never overly stress your body. This workout is designed to gradually get you comfortable as a beginner with both exercises itself, and the motion of the elliptical machine.

  • Always warm up for at least five minutes, using zero to low resistance, for any workout level.
    After five minutes, begin to increase your peddling speed gradually.
  • Pedal forwards for five minutes, and then reverse to backward for the same amount of time.
  • Split these five-minute intervals up depending on how long you want to exercise.
  • You can also rotate between pushing and pulling the handles and going freehand. The push and pull motion will exercise your arms, chest, and shoulders. The freehand elliptical motion is excellent for concentrating on your core muscles.
  • When you have completed your preset workout time, make sure you warm down for at least five minutes. This will allow your muscles to cool down gradually, helping to avoid soreness and cramps.
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    Intervals

    Interval workouts can be flexible. When you rotate between forwards and backward peddling, you are essentially doing a basic interval program. However, when you raise and lower the resistance during particular segments, you do what is called interval training. Elliptical interval training is a great fat burning elliptical workout.

  • Start with a good five-minute warm-up period.
  • Choose an interval length of time and resistance level.
  • To increase the level of training intensity, you should raise your resistance intervals gradually.
  • Start out by going up one level for two to five minutes, and then reduce the resistance back to zero.
  • Pedal at zero to low resistance for one minute, and then raise the resistance one notch above the previous interval.
  • Repeat this up and down change in resistance for a minimum of ten segments. You will notice that you reach your target heart rate early in your workout, and maintain it for an optimal amount of time.
  • Total Body

    The elliptical machine is for more than just a low impact workout. The moving handles with resistance allow you to perform a total body workout. You can shape and tone or build muscle strength and size doing this total body program.

  • Begin with a five-minute warm-up period using little or no resistance.
  • Raise the resistance level slightly and continue peddling forward, using the handles.
  • Reduce the resistance level, and reverse your peddling motion for five minutes.
  • Now, continue to peddle backward and let your arms fall down to your side. Swing them gradually to maintain your balance, but focus on using your core muscles to stabilize yourself.
  • Next five-minute segment will be to switch back to peddling forwards, still keeping your hands free.
  • Raise the resistance level again, and grab the handles for the next five-minute segment.
  • Reverse pedal, keeping a hold of the handles. Finish this last five-minute segment.
  • Now, drop your arms down to your sides again, and increase your speed. This will finish off your hamstrings and butt muscles while targeting your core.
  • Return to forward motion and raise the resistance one more time. Grab the handles and finish this last segment with a full ten-minute push.
  • Since this is such an intense total body workout, reduce the resistance to zero and warm down for a recommended ten-minute period.
  • Short on Time

    When you're on a rigid time schedule, that's when an elliptical machine can be beneficial. Since you can target just about every muscle in your body, you can get a solid workout on your elliptical machine, even if you're pressed for time.

  • Don't forget the five-minute warm-up period, even when the time is short.
  • Use a mixture of the total body and the interval training formats.
  • Raise resistance for periods of one minute, but do not reduce resistance.
  • Continue to raise the resistance every 60 seconds until you reach a peak level.
  • Depending on how much time you have, you can input as many segments as possible.
  • Always remember to give yourself a full five minutes to warm down at zero or low resistance.

  • Elliptical Conclusion

    The elliptical machine ushered in a new era in fitness. It provides health and fitness enthusiasts with a low-impact motion where you can train vigorously and still be gentle on your joints. For a stronger, leaner and healthier body, without undue stress on your joints, try using an elliptical machine. If you're looking for the best elliptical for home use, please review my extensive guide.

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