How to Make the Best Use of an Elliptical Exerciser

How to Make the Best Use of an Elliptical Exerciser

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Enjoy all the features of an elliptical to maximize your experience.

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The elliptical exerciser offers a one-stop upper- and lower-body cardio workout. But that's not all it has to offer. From preprogrammed workout routines to heart-rate sensors, to front-motion pedals and magazine trays, these machines come in handy when looking for a great indoor workout. Pump your arms and pedal those feet, feeling your muscles flex from your biceps to your calves. And best yet, you'll be beating the heat -- and the wear-and-tear on your joints, when you head for an indoor-stationed elliptical.


Go easy on the handrails. Squeezing the handlebars, even if you're using the elliptical's heart-rate sensor, takes weight off the leg muscles and causes you to burn fewer calories. Watching your posture without the rails -- back straight, feet on the pedals, facing forward -- gives your upper and lower body the opportunity to work in unison for maximum calorie burn.


Do elliptical intervals to further maximize your calorie burn . Incinerate 212 calories while pumping your elliptical pedals from levels three to nine in varying intervals. To warm up, set your elliptical's resistance to three or four and cruise there for five minutes. Jump the resistance to a five or six - whichever you feel comfortable with, staying at this level for another five minutes. Bump your resistance up by one or two after five minutes and pedal for 10 minutes. Gradually decrease your speed after that, lowering your level back to six or seven, cruising there for five minutes. Lower your speed to three or four for a five minute cool down.


Play with your machine's incline and decline, and if your elliptical has the ability, try pedaling backwards. Trekking backwards strengthens your rear leg muscles, from your hamstrings to your calves. Keep in mind, however, that not all elliptical machines sport adjustable inclines and declines, or even a backward pedaling option.


Use the heart-rate sensors and preprogrammed workouts to challenge your aerobic fitness level and keep each session fresh.


Push yourself with high intensity interval training (HIIT) -- interval training with a kick. Going beyond preset programs and basic interval training, HIIT energizes and strengthens your cardiorespiratory system. Begin with a five to 10 minute warm-up at level three of four. Raise your speed to seven or eight, keeping it there for one minute. Lower your speed to three or four and pedal for two to three minutes. Repeat this pattern for five to 10 intervals and follow with a five to 10 minutes cool down.


Enjoy yourself. Put on the radio and sing along to the tunes. Position your elliptical near a television or look for a unit with a book tray and enjoy a good read. Bring along a tablet or internet-video-capable device and watch television shows or movies as you log miles -- but resist the urge to look down or hunch your shoulders. Keep the thrill alive, and you'll keep coming back for more.


Make the elliptical part of an overall fitness program. Get either 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity, like HIIT intervals, or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Things Needed

  • Elliptical machine


  • Check with a doctor if you experience pain or discomfort and before starting a new fitness routine.

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