How the Elliptical Can Be a Weight Loss Machine

Make the most of your workout on the elliptical machine and use it for more than a cardio exercise

 / Shutterstock

Have you noticed that the gym have as many, if not more, elliptical machines than treadmills? This cardio equipment can help you burn up 350 calories in half an hour. The total depends on how easy you make the workout – how high the ramp is, what resistance level you set and how fast you’re striding. Many instructors recommend the elliptical to other cardio machines because it’s a low-impact exercise. Your feet are always on the pedals making it easy for your joints and back.

The elliptical can be a lot more than a cardio machine that helps you sweat and get your heart rate up. You are using a lot of muscles. Your legs, quads, glutes, are activated as well as your arms and back. That means you’re building strength there too. The simple truth is that the more muscles are being worked on, the more energy is used, which means the more calories are burned.

So make the most of this scientific opportunity and spend the 20 or 30 minutes on the elliptical burning fat in addition to improving your cardio health. Dropping one pound of fat requires a 3,500-calorie deficit – you burn more calories that you intake. When you do that math it turns out that you’ll see results in about a week of exercising on the elliptical.

Start with the basics: Proper form. You should be standing tall; facing forward, back straight, shoulders over the hips. Don’t slouch. Push and pull the handles to work out your arms; don’t just hold on to the grips. Increase the speed at which you’re going every few minutes. Get out of your comfort zone but just a little bit. You don’t want to exhaust your muscles quickly.

Your body will adapt to what you’re doing on regular basis leading to fewer calories burned because it won’t need as much energy to perform. That’s why it’s a good idea to use all of the different default setting the elliptical has. Don’t do the same routine two times in a row.

Warm up for 3-4 minutes; increase the resistance for another 3-4. Then slow down and decrease the intensity and pedal backwards. Do that for a couple of minutes. Then repeat this whole session a few times for a total time spent on the elliptical of about 25 minutes. Then cool down but get your hands off the handles to relax the muscles.

After you get comfortable with this drill, try a little more challenging one. Choose the “Hill” setting and follow the automated changes. Stay on the machine for at least 35 minutes.

If you decide to only work out on the elliptical a particular day, see if you can stay on it for an hour by increasing the intensity and adjusting the resistance. Warm up for 5-6 minutes; then do five minutes of striding at a resistance level of 4 or 5; then increase the intensity a little bit and do another five minutes. If you feel like you can, increase the resistance even more – possibly to level 8 – and stride for a few more minutes. Repeat this routine until it’s been an hour.

A few things you can do to help yourself along the way is wear proper shoes. The best kinds are the pair you use for running and CrossFit. Whatever you do, don’t ever set the resistance at zero. You won’t see any results, at least not any time soon. You need to feel resistance while you push through. That’s the only way you’ll build muscle and lose fat.

More readings: 

15 Workouts to Do in 15 Minutes or Less

Does Eating at Night Really Cause Weight Gain?

How Many Miles a Week Should You Run to Get Healthy?