3 of the Best Elliptical Workouts

Elliptical trainers are ideal for those of us looking to mix up our workout routine. Elliptical trainers, unlike treadmills or bikes, have the ability to change resistance levels, incline levels, and speed, making it a great piece of equipment for a variety of workout routines. If you’re not up for the unconventional elliptical workout like this guy or don’t want to make these mistakes, consider the routines below.


1. Interval Training

Interval training is the best way to torch the highest amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. The basis of interval training is that switching off between low intensity and high intensity bouts of exercise will actually increase the body’s ability to burn fat. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, has recently become very popular as it combines intense exercise combined with lighter exercise, or periods of rest, and you can incorporate these same principles when using an elliptical trainer. First, try to set the time to 20-30 minutes minimum. Begin at an easy pace with light resistance, but avoid setting the trainer to no resistance. After about a five minute warm-up, take the resistance up as high as you can maintain while still moving the pedals without compromising your posture. Hold this level of resistance (you won’t be going very fast at all) for at least 30 to 60 seconds. Your perceived exertion for the higher intervals should be about 80 percent of your full effort, while the lower intervals should make up about 20 percent of your full effort. Then, take almost all of the resistance off, leaving some so you stay in control, and go as fast as you can for another 60 to 90 seconds, focusing now on speed. Alternate between these intervals for as long as you can, shooting for at least 20 minutes, and always cool down for at least 5 to 10 minutes after your workout. You can also work in incline to this workout, raising the incline along with the resistance, for a more intense workout.


2. Muscle Toning

If you want to focus on toning up your muscles while using an elliptical trainer, focus on using the resistance and incline controls as well as the moving and stationary handlebars. You can choose to do a total body workout, or focus solely on the upper or lower body. If you want to focus on lower body toning, specifically the gluts, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles, you want to start with a higher incline and work in the resistance. First, always start with a short warm-up, 5 to 10 minutes is ideal, with no incline and little resistance. Then, gradually increase the incline while steadily increasing the resistance. You want to be able to move your feet with some difficulty, but it should not be impossible to where you are compromising your form or posture. For this routine, use the stationary handlebars instead of the moving handlebars so you can stabilize yourself better and focus on the lower body. If you want to focus on the upper body, you want to work a combination of a slight incline but focus on the resistance more than incline. The most important thing to remember for this routine is to use the stationary handlebars. You can set the resistance controls higher if you use these handlebars, and you are working your upper body more than lower if you focus on pushing and pulling with the handlebars, rather than using the momentum of your lower body. And of course, to get a total body workout, balance the incline and resistance along with using the moving handlebars and motion of the lower body.


3. Cardiovascular Strengthening

It’s been proven that using an elliptical trainer provides the same cardiovascular benefits as running on a treadmill, but elliptical training allows you to work your cardiovascular system without injuring or stressing your joints. This means less injury, and for many, the ability to work out on an elliptical trainer for a longer period of time since the joints are protected and they can focus on actually working out. To get the best cardiovascular strengthening benefits from an elliptical trainer, start with a short 5 to 10 minute warm-up with light resistance and no incline. After a light warm-up, start revving up the resistance steadily but keep it light enough to maintain a “runners” pace. Rather than holding onto the stationary handlebars, or even using the moving handlebars, pump your arms as if you were running. It can improve your balance and work the upper body while allowing you to focus on speed.  You can also work in hill intervals by alternating the level of incline every 60 to 90 seconds. The key here is to try to maintain your same pace without any incline as you do with slight incline. This exercise alone will raise your heart rate to get the best cardiovascular strengthening and burn the most calories. You can integrate resistance to also raise the heart rate. As always, end your workout with a 5 to 10 minute cool day and stretch.

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