Try Elliptical Workouts
for Low Impact Fitness 

Elliptical workouts are getting more popular in the gym for good reason. Training on an elliptical is a low-impact exercise that effectively gives you a great cardio experience without putting excessive stress on your joints and muscles.

Like the treadmill, today’s elliptical machines offer a variety of resistance and incline settings that can really help to give you an excellent aerobic workout.

Alternative forms of exercise like elliptical workouts, can give someone like a dedicated runner a chance to rest their legs and reduce the risk of the impact injuries that go with the sport.

Elliptical Workout Tips

  • Maintain good posture to help ensure the most effective workout. Keep your shoulders back and your head up.

  • Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and slightly squeeze your glutes. By doing this and using the handlebars, elliptical workouts can become a full body exercise routine.

  • Always look forward, and not down at your feet. Try not to lean on the handlebars, Let your lower body support your weight.

  •  By exercising at a lower incline setting, you will work your calves and legs. By setting a steeper incline, you will work your hamstrings and glutes.

If you are a beginner with elliptical machines, we have an information page that can help you to get started.

elliptical workouts with KimKim Demonstrating the Elliptical Trainer

The elliptical can provide amazing gym workouts for women to lose weight

Fat Burning Workout

If your goal is to burn fat and calories and you don't have a lot of time, Interval training should be an active part of your elliptical workouts.

Interval training is an effective style of exercise to improve your fitness and also accelerate calorie burning faster than a standard cardio workout because of it's intensity. 

By adding bursts of higher intensity followed by slower recovery time you can burn more fat and calories both during and after your workout. The speedier intervals raise your metabolic rate which can stay elevated for hours after your workout is over.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Start with a 5 minute warm-up at a comfortable pace

  • Increase RL to 7, raise incline 10% for 2 minutes, make sure that your SPM (strides per minute) is above 130.

  • Decrease RL to 5 , flatten incline for 2 minutes. 120 (SPM)

  • Increase  RL to 8, raise incline 10% for 3 minutes. 130 (SPM)

  • Decrease RL to 4, flatten incline for 2 minutes. 120 (SPM)

  • Increase RL to 9, raise incline 10% for 3 minutes. 130 (SPM)

  • Decrease RL to 4, flatten incline for 2 minutes. 120 (SPM)

  • Increase RL to 8, raise incline 10% for 4 minutes. 130 (SPM

  • Decrease RL to 6 for 2 minutes. 120 (SPM)

  • Decrease RL to your warm-up level, flatten incline for 5 minutes for your cooldown.

Most of the elliptical machines let you go forward or backward. Feel free to go in different directions during your routine to work different muscles. You can set your own interval to change the direction every 5 minutes.

More on Interval Training

Incline Booty Workout

You can improve your rear assets with the Elliptical Machine. By upping the incline on the elliptical machine, you will work your butt and hamstrings quite a bit more. These types of elliptical workouts will not only tone your rear end, it will also ramp your metabolism to torch extra fat and calories.

It is important that you stick your butt out a little and really push down on your heels to lessen the workload on your front quad muscles and really make your butt do the work. You can also pedal backwards to work those muscles more.

Elliptical Workouts For The Runner

Studies show that cross-training by using different exercises than running can be the best thing for the runner to limit the chance of injury and to increase strength and stamina.

You should mirror the time you spend on a run with the time you spend on the elliptical machine. If you are replicating an easy day of running, try an elliptical manual workout at 55-65% of your maximum heart rate.

If you want a medium to hard session, raise the incline or increase your resistance on the elliptical machine and exercise at 70-90% of your maximum heart rate.

Understanding Heart Rate Zones (HRZ)

Monitoring your heart rate and keeping it in a Heart Rate Zone (HRZ) while you are cardio training is one of the best ways to get a good workout without overdoing it.

Keeping yourself in these zones can be extremely efficient for helping you to reach your fitness goals.

We have heart rate zone calculations tables listed below.

Cardio Exercise and Your Heart Rate

maximum heart rate

We all have a maximum heart rate calculation for exercising.  That calculation is found by taking the number 220 and subtracting your age from it. So if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 180. Your exercise "target heart rate" zones will be anywhere between 50% to 90% of your maximum heart rate.

Here is an example of a 65% and 85% target heart rate for a 40-year-old. You’ll notice that for a target heart rate of 65%, this individual will want to keep their heart rate at 117 beats per minute as they exercise. 

65% Intensity: (220 − (age = 40)) × 0.65 → 117 beats per minute

85% Intensity: (220 − (age = 40)) × 0.85 → 153 beats per minute

If you are a beginner you should keep your target heart rate in a range of 55% to 65%. As your cardiovascular condition gets better you can slowly move to a 70% - 90% range.

It's important to note that the target heart rate is recommended for individuals that don't have any health problems. Please take the time to check with your physician to be sure this type of intense exercise is ok for you.

Beginner Elliptical Workouts

Elliptical Beginner Exercise Instructions:

  • Start with a 5 minute warm-up at a comfortable pace (1-2).

  • Increase the resistance level (RL) to a slightly higher level that will have you working harder for 3 minutes. You should be able to carry on a conversation at this level.

  • Increase the RL and the incline/cross ramp to higher levels for 3 minutes. This should be a more challenging level.

  • Decrease RL and flatten the incline for 3 minutes.

  • Increase the RL and the incline/cross ramp to those higher levels again     for another 3 minutes. If you have the energy, raise the incline even higher than earlier.

  • Decrease the levels back to your warm-up pace for 5 minutes to cool down.

Including the warm-up and cool down, this example workout took 22 minutes. Once you are comfortable and ready to challenge yourself, try and increase the time to 30-45 minutes and slowly increase your resistance and incline levels.

If time gets to be a consideration, the interval training workout listed below is designed for those who want to get more done in less time.

Benefits of Elliptical Workouts

  • Full Body Exercise: Because an elliptical machine will give you a total body workout, you don't have to spend countless hours in the gym getting your workout done.

  • Weight Loss/Maintenance: This type of cardio exercise uses more than one muscle group at the same time which results in a higher number of calories burned and a faster reduction of body fat.

  • Low Impact Exercise:  You can build muscle and lose weight without putting very much stress on your joints.

  • Lung Strength: Cardio exercise will increase your lungs oxygen capacity which can strengthen your heart as well as your lungs.

  • Increased Metabolism:  Increases in your metabolism immediately burns extra fat and calories, this can continue well after your workout is finished.

  • Increased Bone Density: Any type of exercise can help you to increase or maintain bone density and prevent (or even improve) osteoporosis.

  • Diversity: Many coaches and trainers feel that just about everyone can benefit by doing elliptical workouts. These low-impact workouts are an especially good supplement for the athlete who already trains for one particular sport like running.

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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