Some fitness skeptics don’t think very highly of the elliptical. That’s a shame, because there are many science-proven benefits to using an elliptical trainer–some studies show that it can provide a better cardio workout than a treadmill when it’s used properly. It’s also a great option for people of all ages, because it’s not as hard on your knees.
Below, we’ve listed seven ways for you to get the most out of your elliptical exercise.
1. Vary your Routine from Day to Day
If you do the same workout every day, your results will eventually plateau. Interval training is one of the best ways to continually achieve maximum benefits. This involves changing resistance, the rate of your strides, and elevation (if that’s an available setting on your elliptical trainer).
2. Utilize the Handles for a Full-Body Workout (or Don’t!)
One of the elliptical’s best assets is that it divides the workout between your upper and lower body. To get an effective workout, push and pull the levers actively while you maintain an erect posture with your shoulders pushed back.
Another option is to use the machine without holding the handrails. This will provide a workout that puts more emphasis on your legs and abs.
3. Don’t Slouch
When you get on an elliptical trainer, it can be tempting to grip the handles, then lean forward and let your legs do all of the work. However, this won’t do you any benefits, and can even cause lower back pain and injuries.
Stand up tall, and engage your core muscles to get the most out of your elliptical workout. For more on proper form, check out this video from Howcast:
4. Go Backward as well as Forward
Only going in one direction is a common elliptical mistake. Going backwards shifts the emphasis from your quads to your glutes and hamstrings. For maximum benefits, lean back slightly, keeping your knees bent at a 90 degree angle when you go backwards.
5. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on your Toes
This is another common mistake. Leaning back a little on your heels will give you more stamina and give your large muscle groups a better workout.
6. Adjust the Resistance, and Watch Your Speed
If you can hear the elliptical “purring” while you’re using it, you’re probably going too fast. For optimal calorie-burning, it’s much more effective to keep a steady pace with moderate resistance.
7. Have a Plan in Mind when you Start
It’s not enough to simply hop on an elliptical and just “start moving.” Have a definite goal in mind–if it helps, you can think of it as a scale from 1-10, where 1 is a leisurely stroll and 10 is an all-out sprint. What kind of exercise do you want?
Hopefully these tips have changed your mind about the elliptical, and shown you how to incorporate the elliptical for a productive, full-body cardio workout.