Although you can burn calories and lose weight with any cardiovascular exercise machine, such as the treadmill or stationary bike, elliptical machines offer a number of advantages. Elliptical machines stress your joints less than treadmills and ellipticals with moving handles let you work your arms, unlike either treadmills or bikes. As with other machines, though, good posture and sufficient workout intensity are important for burning fat and minimizing risk of injury.
Working out on an elliptical machine burns a significant number of calories. Half an hour on an elliptical machine burns 270 calories if you weigh 125 lbs., 335 calories if you weigh 155 lbs. and 400 calories if you weigh 185 lbs., fitness experts from Harvard University note. If you weigh 200 lbs., you'll burn 432 calories per half hour.
Your Weight Loss Plan
Losing between 1/2 to 1 lb. weekly is a safe rate that helps maximize fat loss and decrease your risk of gaining the weight back, explains dietitian Sheri Barke with the College of the Canyons. If you're significantly overweight, though, up to 2 lbs. weekly is safe. Losing 1 lb. weekly requires a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories weekly. You can create this by cutting 1,750 calories from your diet and burning another 1,750 calories through exercise. If you weigh 185 lbs., you can burn 1,750 calories weekly with approximately five half-hour elliptical machine workouts or nine 15-minute workouts spaced throughout the week.
You'll need to work out hard enough to get your heart pumping in order to lose weight with elliptical machine workouts. Subtract your age from 220 to estimate your maximum heart rate and aim for 60 to 70 percent of this rate when you exercise. For example, if you're 55, you can find 60 percent of your maximum heart rate with the formula 220 - 55 x .6 = 82 beats per minute. Interval training can also help you burn more calories. Throughout your elliptical machine workout, you might alternate between four minutes of moderate intensity exercise and one minute of higher intensity exercise.
Modifying Your Diet
While using the elliptical machine, keep your head up, shoulders back and abdominal muscles tight. Your lower body should support your weight, so avoid leaning on the machine's handle bars or gripping them tightly. While the elliptical machine is typically a good choice if you're just getting started with exercise, consult a heath care provider before starting workouts if you have balance difficulties, joint problems or have experienced chest pain within the last month.