Three Tips For Getting the Most out of Your Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainers are the ideal machine for almost anyone looking to achieve fitness goals with limited impact on the joints, but they offer more than just joint relief. To get the very best out of your trainer, consider these top three tips.

Tip #1: Use the Preset Workout Programs

Nearly all elliptical trainers will come equipped with preset workouts that are usually designed by personal trainers. Ranging from 6 to 26 (or more), these workout programs can act as your own personal trainer, and a way to tailor your workouts to your own personal workout goals. For example, interval training is an excellent way to torch calories in a shorter amount of time, but sometimes timing your intervals and changing the resistance or incline every 60 to 90 seconds (depending on your intervals) can be frustrating. By using the interval workout preset program, which almost all elliptical trainers offer, you can enjoy the benefits of interval training without having to touch a thing. Preset programs are also a great way to build your endurance and muscle tone. Every time you hop on your elliptical trainer, you can focus on various body parts. For example, you can make Mondays arm day and Tuesdays as leg day, and Wednesdays for total body. Each day you can choose a program that will focus on a specific body part so you don’t overwork one muscle group, maintaining endurance and achieving real results week after week.

Tip #2: Monitor your Heart Rate

While almost all elliptical trainers come with heart rate sensors built into the handlebars, only the more mid-to-high-end trainers will come with wireless heart rate monitoring capabilities. Whether using the sensors or the wireless monitoring system, monitoring your heart rate is essential for tracking your calorie burning and level of exertion. For some, this is a safety issue, if you need to keep your heart rate within in a certain zone, and for others, this is a way to achieve your ideal target heart rate zone. Depending on your workout goals, (weight loss, endurance, etc.), the heart rate zone matters and your body works differently in different zones, as you can see from the chart below. Some elliptical trainers will also include heart rate training preset workout programs which allows you to not only just see which heart rate zone you’re working in, but to also either maintain that zone or work in intervals. These programs will typically alert you when your heart rate goes either above or below your desired zone, so all you have to do is workout with one less thing to think about.

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Image credit: http://www.castlehillfitness.com/blog/2012/07/dispelling-the-220-age-myth/

Tip #3: Customize your Workout Experience

Some people avoid using workout “machines” because of the fixed nature of using a machine to work out, but elliptical trainers are built to allow for customizable options that may surprise you. While it depends on the price point and model, many elliptical trainers will offer customizable options that range from an adjustable incline to a power adjustable stride and everything in between. In more advanced models, even the pedals and console can be customized and adjustable. If being able to customize your workout is important to you, try to look for these options before purchasing an elliptical trainer. However, some people have customizable options right under their noses and never use them; for example, an adjustable stride. Many people who have this option on their trainer only think to use it if multiple people use the trainer of varying heights, but you can actually use an adjustable stride (ranging anywhere from 17 to 24 inches depending on the brand and price point) to achieve various workout results. A longer stride is ideal for focusing on cardio where you want a longer range of motion, while a shorter stride is ideal if you focusing on more muscle toning in the lower legs because you can keep your exertion within a smaller space and focus on the pulling and pushing of the pedals rather than the length of the stride.