Elliptical Machines

Popular in the Gym for Good Reason

I don't really know what I would do for my cardio without the elliptical. Elliptical machines let me get exactly the type of aerobic workout I want without taking the pounding my legs use to get by running day after day.

elliptical machine workoutKim Demonstrating an Elliptical Machine Workout

You can do a long slow exercise to burn calories and have a good cardio exercise. Or you can change the incline and resistance levels to add extra intensity. 

All Aboard!!!

  • Hop on the elliptical machine (carefully) and stand up straight with your feet facing directly forward. 

  • Grasp the handlebars and slowly start pedaling. Once you have begun pedaling, the elliptical will automatically begin to record your time and distance on the screen in front of you.

On your own or with a little help from a professional, choose a low resistance setting (1 or 2 on most machines). I would not activate the incline for your first session or two. Set the timer for 15-20 minutes for your first time using elliptical machines..

Once you get used to the machine, try adding some resistance or raising the incline levels to make the exercise more challenging. Many of the elliptical machines offer a variety of pre-programmed workouts that are designed for weight loss or more challenging fitness exercises.

Advantages of Elliptical Machines

  • They allow you to change the incline of the pedals to create a type of stair climbing workout which will target other muscle groups. You can also pedal backwards to work your hamstrings and calves.
  • Many elliptical have upper body handlebars that move back and forth with the foot pedals. These movable handlebars are similar to using ski poles and will help you to use pretty much all of the muscle groups in your upper and lower body.

  • There is no other fitness machine that works as many muscle groups at the same time.

  • Heart rate monitors are also available so you can monitor a cardiovascular work-out.
elliptical workout

Elliptical Machines vs Treadmills

Elliptical machines and treadmills are both very effective for a quality aerobic workout with limited impact involved. There is less stress on your knees, hips, and back using the elliptical than there is running on the treadmill.

The ellipticals tend to offer more exercise choices than the treadmill. Some have upper body handles that are similar to ski poles, these allow you to work your upper body. You can also pedal the elliptical in reverse which will work your calf and hamstring muscles.

If you are a serious runner, obviously the treadmill will provide you with a better cardiovascular exercise platform, especially if you are training for a competitive race like a 5k.

As far as high-level cardiovascular workouts, the elliptical is an excellent choice for efficiency and results.


  • Because running on a treadmill is more of a high impact exercise, older individuals and those with joint, leg, and back issues should consider using  elliptical machines.

  • With the upper body handlebars to work the arms, and the ability to pedal backwards to work the hamstring and calves. The elliptical offers the variety for a more efficient all around exercise.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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