Elliptical trainers offer low-impact, total body workouts and are one of the most popular modes of exercise in health clubs and fitness centers. Using an elliptical trainer in the forward direction works to target the hamstrings, upper body and core. If you want to change up your regular routine, you can use the trainer in reverse to really utilize the back of your legs and butt.
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The hamstrings are located on the back of the thigh and work to flex the knee and extend the thigh. Your hamstrings are utilized during the reverse direction when you push down through your heel to straighten your back leg. Your hamstrings are also worked when pedaling in the forward direction but not to the extent as in reverse.
Your glutes, or butt, are made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the major extensor of the thigh while the medius and minimus work to stabilize and abduct the thigh. The glutes are engaged when you straighten your leg in the reverse direction. Similar to the hamstrings, the glutes are also used during forward motion but must work significantly more in reverse.
The quadriceps muscles are located on the front of the thigh and act to straighten the knee. These muscles are worked more intensely during forward stride but are also necessary to complete the reverse stride.
The oblique muscles are located along the sides of your abdomen. Your obliques give your torso stability and are in constant contraction as your hips repeatedly alternate back and forth as you pedal in reverse.
Back and Biceps
The muscles of your back work together with your bicep muscles to pull the handles of the elliptical trainer toward your body.
Triceps and Pecs
Your triceps and pectoralis muscles, located on the chest, work in unison to push the handles of the elliptical trainer away from your body as you pedal.