How an Elliptical Machine Can Help You Lose Belly Fat

female on elliptical machine with a gym go-er beside her

The belly is more than just the body’s core. It’s the center of so many fitness ambitions, the cause of much frustration, and an area of focus for all kinds of exercisers. 

Across demographic groups and experience levels, achieving and maintaining a slim midsection is a common fitness objective. And whether you’re aiming for six-pack abs or simply looking to lose weight overall, there’s a good chance that shedding belly fat is one of your exercise intentions.

This aim is often driven by a desire to look good: Many of us would like to feel less self-conscious in a swimsuit, or slip on a flattering pair of jeans that don’t quite fit anymore. While it’s best to steer clear of unrealistic or unhealthy weight loss objectives, plenty of people see a slimmer stomach as one of their key fitness goals.

Beyond these image-conscious concerns, however, reducing belly fat is a serious health priority. In fact, medical research suggests that abdominal fat is especially problematic, posing more health risks than fat stored elsewhere. 

There are two major categories of abdominal fat, and each can be harmful. The first is subcutaneous fat, which rests just below the skin. This type of fat exists elsewhere in the body as well, and all humans possess at least some of it around their midsections. Though normal and healthy in small amounts, subcutaneous fat can lead to medical challenges when amassed in large quantities. 

The second (and potentially more concerning) type of belly fat builds up around the organs located in your midsection. This “visceral fat” is often imperceptible, emerging only in advanced medical scans. Notably, even relatively slim individuals can build up large pockets of visceral fat in and around their bellies.

Visceral fat can cause myriad health issues, compromising the function of the organs it ensnares. Relative to subcutaneous fat, visceral fat secretes more chemicals that cause inflammation and releases more fatty acids into the bloodstream. 

Due to the particularly injurious nature of visceral fat, flab in the belly area has been linked to a number of deadly and chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. While excess fat in any area can strain your body, belly fat may be the most concerning variety. 

Thankfully, there are some effective, sustainable methods to incrementally reduce belly fat. And in this journey toward a healthier midsection, an elliptical machine can be an essential tool. Offering a full-body cardio workout and tons of potential modifications, the elliptical may be your best bet to shed belly fat – and keep it off. 

In this article, we’ll briefly cover the causes of belly fat, why it can be so tough to lose, and how elliptical training can help. From there, we’ll provide some tips to ensure that your elliptical workout is maximally effective in burning belly fat. 

Keep reading to learn how the elliptical machine can slim down your stomach and keep your belly fat in check for the long haul.

Belly Fat Basics: How Ellipticals Help

When individuals consume more calories than their bodies require, the excess energy is stored in their bodies as fat. As one might expect, therefore, belly fat is often associated with the usual weight gain culprits: an unhealthy diet and too little exercise. The scientific evidence is clear: Eating well and exercising often can help keep belly fat at bay. 

Belly fat may also result from more complicated causes. Lifestyle factors, such as stress and alcohol consumption, can contribute to flab in the stomach area. Most importantly, genetics play a significant role in an individual’s propensity to develop belly fat. For some of us, any weight gain is likely to show up in our midsections, as opposed to elsewhere on our bodies. 

Additionally, belly fat can be especially difficult to shed. In contrast to other parts of the body, the stomach area tends to have a higher concentration of fat cells that are resistant to lipolysis, the fat-breakdown process. Even if you eat well and exercise regularly, therefore, your belly may be one of the last areas to show results. 

How can you overcome these potential obstacles? If you’re eager to subtract pounds from your stomach, you may be looking for weight loss solutions tailored specifically to your belly. Unfortunately, this kind of precise weight loss approach simply isn’t possible. 

Indeed, scientists have thoroughly and repeatedly debunked the myth of spot reduction weight loss regimens. Even if you repeatedly exercise your core, your caloric intake and expenditure plays out across your whole body. You may gain muscle in your midsection, but you won’t burn belly fat specifically. Even if you do lose weight, you can’t pick and choose where exactly you’ll shed pounds. 

Accordingly, the most practical approach to burning belly fat is a holistic weight loss program that involves the full body and burns through lots of calories. As a well-rounded cardio machine, the elliptical fits that description perfectly. 

Indeed, elliptical machines enable exercisers to burn plenty of calories and torch body fat. They engage the upper and lower body simultaneously, involving multiple muscle groups. Additionally, they offer a challenge while treating the body gently, with lower impacts than other cardio machines. 

Of course, not all elliptical exercise will be equally beneficial in burning fat throughout the body. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your elliptical workouts. 

Blasting Belly Fat: Five Elliptical Exercise Tips

female on reed shirt on elliptical machine

Try High-Intensity Interval Training

To reap the greatest possible rewards from your time on the elliptical, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be your best bet. Rather than proceeding through your workout at a consistent pace, the HIIT approach entails periods of acute exertion, followed by intervals of active recovery. On the elliptical, high-intensity portions could entail added speed, incline, or resistance, requiring you to push yourself. 

The benefits of HIIT exercise are well documented, particularly for those who wish to burn large quantities of calories in a limited time frame. Multiple studies have linked HIIT to significant fat loss, and some even suggest that this approach can be especially effective for burning visceral fat. Many elliptical machines offer an interval-based exercise option, but you can also manually adjust your machine to vary the degree of difficulty during your session. 

Vary Your Aerobic Exercise

If you’re getting sick of your workout routine, feeling disengaged, or experiencing diminishing returns, it’s probably time to mix things up. Experts recommend changing your routine every six to eight weeks to challenge yourself and avoid a performance “plateau.” On the elliptical, change might entail adding more resistance or pushing for greater speeds. 

However, you could also begin alternating your cardio approach consistently, mixing your elliptical in with running or cycling sessions. Another option is alternating long elliptical sessions at a steady pace with HIIT workouts, giving you body a diverse set of experiences. When it comes to weight loss through exercise, diversity usually drives the best results. 

Use the Handles to Engage Your Full Body

Among cardio machines, the elliptical is distinguished by its full-body benefits: When you use its handles and pedals simultaneously, you’re engaging multiple muscle groups. From your quads to your back and core, most of your body gets involved. Because losing belly fat is about burning calories, it’s great to have all those areas of your body actively using energy.

However, some elliptical users don’t actively use the handles, allowing their legs to drive all the movement. To get your whole body involved, it’s best to engage your core and push and pull on the handles. While the pedals will still be the main driver of your motion, you’ll be getting your upper body in the mix.

Increase the Incline and Resistance

It’s a simple calculus: When you increase the incline or resistance on the elliptical, you’ll need to supply more effort with each stride. You’ll burn more calories, increase your endurance, and avoid lapsing into complacency while on the machine. You may even build muscle in your legs, an added benefit of fighting through added resistance and/or incline. 

A good rule of thumb is seeking to feel the tension working against you as you operate the machine. If you’re breezing along propelled largely by momentum, you’ll benefit far less over the course of your workout. 

Add Complementary Strength Training

When it comes to losing belly fat, experts recommend doing more than cardio alone. While aerobic exercise is essential, strength training is another pillar of losing weight and keeping it off. If you can combine elliptical sessions with consistent weightlifting or calisthenics, you’ll be on track to see optimal results. 

Strength training also builds a foundation to avoid future weight gain, because your muscles demand calories each day. By increasing your muscle mass, you’re less likely to end up with excess calories stored as fat. You can combine elliptical and strength training sessions, or do them on alternating days. 

Long-Term Weight Loss: Banishing Belly Fat With an Elliptical

We hope the evidence and suggestions we’ve provided thus far will guide your fitness journey, helping you use an elliptical to burn through belly fat. There’s one final elliptical advantage worth mentioning: As a sustainable fitness solution, the elliptical can help you keep weight off for the foreseeable future

Unfortunately, many who successfully shed belly fat eventually gain it back. Some maintain intense exercise routines for short periods of time, but inevitably fall back to their former sedentary habits. Others exercise too vigorously, suffer an injury, and struggle to resume an active lifestyle. 

As a low-impact exercise option, the elliptical is perfect for those who hope to lose belly weight for the long term. Relative to other cardio options, you’re far less likely to get injured – and the wide variety of incline and resistance settings can keep things challenging for years to come. As you grow older, your joints will thank you for sparing them from repeated impact.Another barrier to keeping off belly fat is inconvenience: Traveling to the gym can be unappealing and time-consuming. That’s why we make it easy to bring the perfect workout machine into your own home. Our expert reviews help you pick a great elliptical at any price point, so you never need to leave home to get a fat-busting workout. We’ll help you maintain a healthy weight, while also gaining so many other fitness benefits.

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