Adding an elliptical trainer to your fitness routine can enhance your stamina, cardiac health, and boost your fitness. It will improve your body balance, strengthen your muscles and bones, and shred your extra pounds as well. To someone suffering from injury, this is truly an excellent fitness option.
An elliptical trainer has a multitude of benefits, due to which today it is one of the most sought work out equipment. It has become the mainstay of commercial gyms and home gyms as well. Now, exactly what benefits does this cardio machine offer? In what manner should you use it to derive all these benefits? We have tried our best to answer all these questions in this article. Hopefully, this will help to convince you about the goodness of those seemingly “simple” elliptical machines.
Table of Contents
Features that make an elliptical “Good”
1. Impact free
Ellipticals are great tools for low impact workout. These are gentle and forgiving to the joints and hence hugely preferred by the elderly, and people recovering from any fracture or injury. During an elliptical workout, your feet remain in constant touch with the pedals which reduces the strain on your joints. So, you can easily do exercises of high intensity without much impact.
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2. Offers versatility
Elliptical workouts are highly dynamic and versatile. By forward and reverse pedaling, you can easily target a specific group of muscles in your body. Your core is also engaged and arms are toned down. The features of adjusting stride length, speed, incline, and resistance adds versatility to elliptical workouts. While novices might prefer small incline and low speed, advanced exercisers tend to work with steeper inclines and moderate to high speeds to increase cardio endurance and challenge themselves. Wireless heart rate monitoring systems are also incorporated in many models, creating room for improvement in your workout.
3. Low maintenance
Reduced maintenance is one special advantage that an elliptical offers over a treadmill. The low impact movements and few mobile parts account for less frictional damage in the machine.
4. Strengthens leg muscles
Elliptical training strengthens your leg muscles. According to various research, quadriceps and hamstrings are strengthened to a greater extent by elliptical trainers than exercise forms like cycling, jogging, or running on a treadmill. [Source]
The ability to pedal in a reverse direction in an elliptical is also beneficial for the weak leg muscles. If you prefer running or cycling as daily cardio activity, no worries, continue doing that. But side by side spends some time on your ellipticals to build your glutes and hips, something which running or cycling cannot do.
5. Increases aerobic capacity
Aerobic capacity is the highest amount of oxygen consumed which can be processed by your body. The higher your aerobic capacity, the longer you can exercise without experiencing tiredness or fatigue. Regular elliptical training will slowly increase your aerobic capacity. Over time, you will get enhanced stamina and cardio endurance. You will be able to walk long distances or lift heavy weights for a greater amount of time without experiencing shortness of breath.
6. Ensure whole body workout
The specialty of the elliptical is that it works on both the upper and lower body. Besides, your core is engaged and your abs are also trained during an elliptical workout. Your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings are toned perfectly. By using the mobile handlebars during the workout you can target your biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles too. Overall, your whole body is toned and sculpted into perfection by this cross-trainer.
➥ If you specifically want to have a whole-body workout, then, you should definitely have a look at the elliptical cross trainer & exercise bike combo.
7. Aids in getting rid of belly fat
Excess belly fat is the first sign of obesity. It is a great risk factor for our cardiac health and fitness, the reason we want to steer clear of it at any cost. Ellipticals are our best tools against belly fat. It works as an excellent calorie scorcher by combining several upper and lower body movements. Engaging our core and abs during a workout, burns the stubborn belly fat and helps to achieve the lean figure and physique which many dreams of.
8. Improves balance & mobility
Elliptical trainers imitate your normal body movements of walking or running. This imitating motion improves your balance and mobility in the long run. Your hips gain their complete range of motion during elliptical training. It is especially beneficial for someone suffering from a hip injury.
9. Offers weight-bearing exercise
Elliptical exercises require using your feet constantly for pedaling, so these are weight-bearing in nature. These exercises help increase bone density and strength. Wear and tear of muscle also occur. On the whole, elliptical trainers profoundly benefit your musculoskeletal health.
How to use an elliptical
If you want to make the most out of your elliptical exercise, you need to do it in the right way. Fitness experts advise following these steps to make your workout session a killer one.
What to Do:
- Before Starting, Make a Plan
Life teaches us always to have a goal and a plan for any task. Implement that valuable teaching in your fitness regime too. Don’t just start exercise suddenly in a haphazard manner, set a goal. Observe your maximum level of exertion, then make a detailed workout plan.
- Get rid of distractions
Stick to your workout plan as religiously as you would stick to your academic lessons. Remove your iPod, tablet, magazines, or anything which can distract you from exercising.
What to avoid while using an elliptical
- Avoid slouching
While slouching may seem to make your workout feel easier, it is absolutely the wrong way. You have got to stop hunching and maintain an erect posture. Hunching can lead to back pain and imbalance in your muscles. Try to engage your core and abs by staying upright.
- Do not repeat the same routine
Repeating the same moves may be effective for the first few days, but after some time your body gets habituated to those moves. Then the effectiveness of the workout will wear away. To avoid plateauing, try new workouts that challenge your body in different ways. Don’t repeat the same workout routine every day. Bringing variation in your exercise routine will gradually improve your endurance. Your body will definitely thank you in the long run. You will also be saved from the boredom of repeating the same routine every day.
Ellipticals can provide an advantage here as there are opportunities for changing resistance, stride length, and even incline level.
- Instead of exercising at the same pace for 30 minutes, do 5 minutes intervals of high-intensity workout with resting breaks.
- If you want to keep your workout pace steady, consider playing with the incline setting.
- You can follow the 2-1-2 minutes workout pattern. Start at the base speed for two minutes, then move at twice that speed for 2 minutes, finally keep 1 minute for recovering. You can follow this pattern as many times as you want. [source]
A 20 minutes elliptical workout session
If you don’t have much time to spare for exercising in your busy schedule, you can do a high-intensity interval workout session on your elliptical for a smart and effective calorie burn. For extra challenge and versatility, consider adding a few core strengthening exercises like planks, squats, push-ups, or lunges in the recovery or break period.
F. A. Q.s
Q1. Are 30 minutes on the elliptical enough?
Ans.: Yes, 30 minutes of elliptical training is adequate. If weight loss is your prime target, you need to burn more calories than you consume to create a calorie shortage. In the opinion of Harvard Health Publishing, a 30 minutes elliptical workout session can scorch around 335 calories off your body. Whether it is enough will depend on your body health and weight, sustainability, and fitness goals. [source]
Q2. Is it okay to use the elliptical every day?
Ans.: Yes, working out 5 days a week on your elliptical trainer should be sufficient. However, if you desire to work out every day, 10 minutes would be adequate for your health and fitness.
Q3. How many times a week should I use the elliptical to lose weight?
Ans.: The key to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume daily. When it comes to losing weight, consistency is very important. For losing weight using an elliptical, half an hour-long session of high-intensity training or an hour-long session of low-impact exercises will help. However, perform these exercises for a minimum of 5 days a week for ensuring weight loss. [source]
Having witnessed so many benefits, if you still have any doubts, you can talk to someone using an elliptical trainer. Better if you go to your local gym one day and perform a strenuous elliptical workout. Check if you see any difference. Hopefully, this will convince you about the multiple benefits of this wonderful cardio machine.