Elliptical Training Mistakes We All Make

Working out on an elliptical trainer can be great cardiovascular exercise that also works the muscles, making it a full body trainer perfect of almost users of all ability level, but using the trainer incorrectly can compromise your workout.

Mistake #1: Speed and little to no resistance

So you’re working out in the gym one day and suddenly you are seemingly impressed by your gazelle-like neighbor going 90 mph on an elliptical trainer. While you may be impressed by their speed, they really aren’t getting a workout at all. And the opposite is actually true, putting them at risk for pulling a muscle. If you work out on an elliptical trainer using zero to little resistance, you aren’t getting the best workout in because you aren’t working any muscles, and rather just using the momentum of your lower body to move the pedals as fast as you can. Resistance is what makes your muscles work, and what raises your heart rate. If you want to raise heart rate by going fast, put the resistance on a lower setting but it should be something that is mildly difficult to maintain for an extended period of time.


Mistake #2: Too much resistance

While speeding like a gazelle isn’t smart, straining with all of your might to move your feet isn’t smart either. If you want to keep an elliptical trainer on higher levels of resistance, choose a level that does not cause you to compromise your posture. If you have to slouch forward or twist sideways too much to pull the handlebars, your resistance is too high. Instead, you want to first build up to higher levels of resistance, and once you attain your resistance level goal, focus on maintaining that level of resistance for as long as you can, at a fairly moderate pace. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to easily move the pedals without any exertion but you shouldn’t feel like you are going to break your back to push one pedal. Challenge yourself, but use moderation and build up to it.

Mistake #3: Not using interval training  

One of the great things about an elliptical trainer is the ability to do interval training. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is basically when you move back and forth from high to low cardiovascular workouts. Interval training allows you to burn more calories in less time, and is known to increase your metabolic rate. To include interval training in your elliptical training routine, start in a lower interval and using a 3 to 1 ratio, go back and forth between low and high resistance levels. It’s a good idea to go with the low resistance at 90 minute intervals and higher resistance for 30 seconds, and repeat that pattern as many times as possible. Ultimately, try to build up to 90 seconds at the higher levels of resistance, following with a 30 second break at the lower resistance levels.


Mistake #4: Not using your Arms

Elliptical training offers a full body workout, but if you don’t use the moving handlebars, you are missing out on extra calorie burning and muscle toning opportunity. When you change levels of resistance, your arms inevitably have to do more or less work, which is also affected by how much exertion you use with your lower body. If you want more of an upper-body workout, you can put the resistance fairly high but use the lower body less, and if you want more of a lower-body workout, do the opposite, but always incorporate movement of your arms no matter the level of resistance to get the best out of your workout. You can also train like a runner and move your arms like you would when running if you set the resistance a bit lower and want to just workout the lower body, but try to go back and forth from using the handlebars or moving your arms in a running motion. Bottom line: use your arms and keep your core tight.