Endurance Training on the Elliptical Machine

Endurance training is best described as aerobic exercise that consists of low to medium intensity levels like running, biking, and any other exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps it there for long periods of time. There are lots of ways to endurance train, but we’re major advocates of training on the elliptical machine. The elliptical machine is a stationary exercise machine that simulates non-impact running or walking; they’re a super effective way to burn calories, and depending on the setting, incline, and tension you opt for, they can be used for toning, building strength, and also increasing endurance. And, they’re great for people with injuries, too – because running on the streets or on a treadmill can negatively impact the joints, muscles and bones, the elliptical machine is the perfect way to strengthen your joints and get your workout on in the safest way possible.

Ready to go the distance? Read on for the best ways to endurance train on the elliptical machine!


Beginning your workout with too much resistance is a big reason why many elliptical machine users get tired early on in their routine. If you start with a low resistance setting, you’ll be ready to meet more challenges along the way, and this will help you work up to your goals. Additionally, LiveStrong explains, “Going too fast on an elliptical could cause you to lose balance and cause injury, particularly if you’re just starting out. Going fast on an elliptical with very low resistance doesn’t provide much payoff for your workout because it will take longer to burn calories.”


Many machines feature different, and highly innovative challenge options. The large amount of variety on the elliptical trainer will help you to stay motivated and inspire you to move. And, whether you move forwards, backwards, change your stride, alter your intensity, or adjust your incline, the possibilities are endless! Go into each program when you’re ready, and do so with ease. Why, you ask? While they’re aspirational and fun, like any other ultra-challenging workout, many of these programs (especially those geared for more experienced athletes) have the ability to wear you out quickly, resulting in a not-so-stellar performance. Our rule of thumb is to always opt for static resistance before adding any special programs to your elliptical routine.


It’s normal to get bored if you’re on the same machine for hours on end. If you find your mind wandering, don’t allow yourself to walk away! The best option is to read a book or magazine, catch up on your favorite TV show or movie (if there’s a television in the room), or workout with a friend or co-worker. Endurance training takes time, and when time isn’t on your side, staying entertained is the key to getting through it all.


Before you even step onto that machine, it’s important to commit to a specific time you’ll be training. Why? This will help sway you from stepping off your machine whenever you’re uncomfortable or tired. Start with a short circuit, and slowly build up to higher-intensity sessions. Heart.org recommends writing and signing a contract to yourself, saying that it will provide a more formalized, visual reminder of your fitness pledge. They also say that, “writing down the reasons why you want to be more active can help. Your reason might be better overall health, more energy, managing a health condition like blood pressure or diabetes, or simply looking and feeling better.”


Make the elliptical dashboard your personal workout buddy. On it, you’ll be able to see your individual heart rate, watch your strides per minute, keep track of your calories burned, and stay in-the-know on many more key stats. Ultimately, it will help you learn more about how you’re progressing, and that’s important on the elliptical because it relies solely on your personal movement (unlike a treadmill that is set at a certain speed).


The greatest way to increase your endurance is to find a workout that allows you to reach your target heart rate. Find out what yours should be here, and once you know, be sure your heart rate remains within your target zone throughout your entire workout.

Still waiting to pull the trigger on a new elliptical for home? Check out all of our elliptical reviews to find the best fit for your needs.

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