8 Benefits Of An Elliptical Training Machine

If you are new to cardio training or a seasoned pro, the elliptical machine is one that you will likely want to consider at some point in time. Many people use the elliptical trainer and see excellent results because of it. In fact, it’s quickly become one of the most used pieces of equipment at the gym.

While treadmills used to be the choice of cardio for many, we are seeing more and more individuals make the switch.

So why is this? What makes the elliptical machine so special? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits that it has to offer so you can see why it might be one that you too want to consider as part of your own routine.

It’s Non-Impact

The first reason that many people are naturally drawn to the elliptical is because it’s non-impact. If you’re a runner and are suffering knee or back pain, using the elliptical will bring welcomed relief.

Because there is no impact with the elliptical, you aren’t putting the stress on the joints that you would while running. Therefore, it serves as an excellent means of cardio training for those who are in recovery from an injury as well as those who simply just want to prevent injury in the long run.

If you’ve ever been sidelined before, you know just how frustrating it is so chances are, you’d do anything you could to prevent that from occurring again.

This isn’t to say you can’t get an injury on the elliptical, it’s just that your chances of experiencing one will be significantly less.

It Works The Upper AND Lower Body

Another nice thing about the elliptical is that it works both the upper and lower body. While the treadmill is great, it’s really not doing much to help to help improve your upper body conditioning.

As long as you choose to use the handlebars on the elliptical, you’ll work the upper body at the same time. Do note that some people specifically choose not to use these handlebars and that’s fine too. It just means that instead, your lower body will take more of the work and that means that you’ll instead reap extra benefits there.

You can choose to customize the workouts based on your own individual needs.

It Torches Calories Fast

The next benefit is that the elliptical trainer torches calories quickly. Few other cardio machines burn fat as effectively as an elliptical trainer does. The reasoning behind this enhanced fat burn is again because you are working both the upper and lower body at the same time. The more muscles you get involved in any workout session, the faster you are going to be burning fat because the more energy you expend.

The elliptical is a good way to not only lean down, but prevent fat gain as well. It’s not abnormal to burn up to 600-800 calories one session if you are working hard enough.

Do keep in mind however that in some cases, the calorie burn by the elliptical machine may be overestimated, so make sure you enter your weight if possible at all times. The more information you can enter into the machine before you start, the more accurate it can estimate your expenditure.

It’ll Build Strength

We don’t typically think of cardio training as a means of building strength. That’s what weight training is for. And while you won’t ever build as much strength using the elliptical as you would doing say a set of heavy squats or the bench press, you can certainly see good strength gains – much more so than if you were just running.

The elliptical allows you to work against resistance, so you’ll be calling into play virtually every muscle in your body. You’ll work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, back, shoulders, as well as your chest.

It really is a full body workout all on its own. For those of you who are looking to step up your conditioning, you’ll want to strongly consider this piece of equipment. In one session, you reap both cardiovascular and strength boosting benefits.

Remember that if strength is your goal, just like with weight lifting, you’ll then want to focus on continually increasing the resistance level that you use over time in order to promote the increase in strength development. You may not increase the resistance for the entire session every single time, but slowly work on doing a few minutes at a higher resistance and then going back down again. Eventually you’ll do the entire session at that higher resistance level.

It Works Your Core

The elliptical trainer is also excellent for working your core muscles. Contrast to the bike for instance, or the rower, where you are sitting down and aren’t using too much core strength to keep the body stabilized.

While the rower and the upright bike will use a bit of core strength, the recumbent bike has you leaning against a back pad so you just won’t be using any core strength during that form of exercise.

Because you are not only standing with the elliptical but constantly shifting your weight, your core engagement will be maximized. Add to this the fat burning powers of the elliptical training machine and you have an excellent fat burning mode of cardio training at your fingertips that will help you reveal that set of six-pack abs you’ve been trying to achieve.

It’s Customizable

For those of you who are training for a specific purpose, not to worry, the elliptical trainer has you covered. It’s very easy to customize this workout because the elliptical trainer can be highly customized based on your own individual needs.

For instance, if you want to work the quads to a larger degree, pedal forward as you use it. Want to work the hamstrings and glutes more? No problem. Pedal backwards instead. It’ll give you a totally new movement pattern, helping to challenge your body more while also giving you a break from the usual.

You can also change the resistance level of the elliptical as needed. If you want more strength training, ramp it up to a higher level. This means your muscles have more to work against, which then leads to them having to contract harder at all times.

If you prefer improving your cardiovascular capacity, you might use a lower level and instead, focus on pedaling as fast as you can.

Alternatively, you can also change the elevation. Using a steeper incline will work the quads and glutes a lot more because it’ll be a movement pattern more like climbing stairs versus running. Lower the incline more to flat and you’ll be creating an effect that’s far more like cross country skiing. Or, mix both up in one session, doing an interval like set-up and you can reap the benefits of both of these at once.

So as you can see, no matter what your goal happens to be, there’s a very good chance that you can utilize the elliptical in a manner that will help you reach that goal.

It’s Easy To Use

Next up, the elliptical is quite easy to use. While it will take a few minutes to get used to that pattern of movement, once you are used to it, you’re golden. You should have no problem continuing on and carrying out the workout session.

There’s no steep learning curve so chances are, you don’t even need a session with a personal trainer to show you. Just hop on and the elliptical trainer will typically do the rest for you. Just follow its natural movement pattern.

This makes it a great option for both beginners as well as those who are more advanced. Beginners can simply use a low level with little resistance and they will begin to get used to the pattern of movement and doing the cardio training in their workout program.

More advanced users can increase both the resistance and elevation, getting everything from a longer duration workout to an interval session as they choose.

It’s Fun

Finally, let’s not forget the most important benefit of all – it’s fun. Most people would cite the elliptical trainer as being one of the more fun exercises to be performing. Because it’s so different and unique from all the other forms of cardio you’ve likely done in your life, you’ll find that you are more engaged while doing it.

Those who are more engaged typically try harder, which means more calories burned and more progress seen.

Plus, you’ll be less likely to skip the workout sessions if you do truly look forward to doing them.

So there you have all the many benefits of the elliptical trainer. It’s a very versatile piece of cardio equipment that can help you stay injury free, improve your strength and cardiovascular fitness, and ensure that you look forward to each and every workout session that comes your way. Why haven’t you given it a try yet?

Photo credit: Jasminko Ibrakovic/Shutterstock; Pressmaster/Shutterstock; Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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