How to Use Gym Elliptical Machines for Flat Abs & a Firm Butt

Don't bypass the elliptical trainer next time you hit the cardio floor. It may seem low key with its gliding foot plates, but it can provide a killer workout for your abs and butt. Play with the incline to make the exercise more intense and to target your booty; resist the urge to prop your weight up on handles or rails to challenge your balance, which works your abs.

How to Use Gym Elliptical Machines for Flat Abs & a Firm Butt (Image: nd3000/iStock/Getty Images)

Tip

Keep in mind that an elliptical workout is, in essence, cardiovascular. It uses your muscles, but won't sculpt and tone them in the same way resistance training will. You'll burn calories, which helps you lose weight to reveal flat abs, but it can only do so much when it comes to building a better backside. Along with your elliptical workouts, do at least two targeted strength-training workouts per week that include squats, lunges and leg curls to really shape your butt.

Step 1: Stand Up Straight

Slouching on the elliptical trains your body to maintain bad posture. Instead, stand up tall, which activates your ab muscles, and don't lean on the handles or side rails. Often, people use these props as crutches to make the workout feel easier and more stable. Embrace the instability and challenge yourself to use your abs to stand upright, even when pedaling rigorously up an incline.

Step 2: Put on Some Resistance

Elliptical machine consoles have a reading called "strides per minute." If you're easily pushing 180, 190 or more than 200 spm, you can tolerate a higher resistance to get a tougher workout. Aim to pedal around 130 to 150 spm. Don't just slow down to match the pace; raise your resistance so you're pushing to achieve that goal. You'll maximize muscle use and calorie burn.

Step 3: Use the Arm Poles

If your model has moving poles, pumping them vigorously along with your pedal glide is an effective way to up your calorie burn and burn belly fat.

Step 4: Challenge Your Balance

Let go of the handles periodically to really test your balance, which works your core. Pedal with a lower resistance on a relatively flat incline and go for a quick spm, such as 150, to make the balance challenge greatest.

Warning

Pedaling without holding on to the handles is an advanced move that should only be done by people who have developed a solid foundation of fitness and are comfortable balancing while moving on the machine.

Stand tall and pump the arm poles. (Image: GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 5: Add an Incline

Elliptical machines feature a ramp that you can adjust with the push of a button on the console. Climb steadily at an 11 to 15 percent incline when you train to tone your backside. Alternatively, break the hills up and attack the climbs as intervals: pedal a minute or two on a low incline of 5 percent, then raise the incline to 15 percent and maintain the same spm and resistance for a minute or two. Keep alternating for the duration of your workout.

Sample Workout

Here's one way to put all the tips together and get a truly toned butt and flat belly with your elliptical workouts. Do this two to three times per week along with other cardio cross-training, such as cycling, and strength training.

  • 0:00 to 5:00: Warm up with a low resistance and comfortable stride.

  • 5:00 to 7:00: Increase the ramp height to 11. Pedal with a resistance that makes it feel hard to go 130 spm.

  • 7:00 to 8:00: Reduce the ramp height and resistance so pedaling feels easy.

  • 8:00 to 10:00: Increase the ramp height to 13.

    Pedal with a resistance that makes it feel hard to go 130 spm.

  • 10:00 to 11:00:

    Reduce the ramp height and resistance so pedaling feels easy.

  • 11:00 to 13:00: Increase the ramp height to 15.

    Pedal with a resistance that makes it feel hard to go 130 spm.

  • 13:00 to 15:00: Reduce the ramp height and resistance so pedaling feels easy.

  • 15:00 to 20:00: Increase the ramp height to 10 and pedal steadily at 130 to 140 spm.

  • 20:00 to 22:00:

    Reduce the ramp height and resistance so pedaling feels easy.

  • 22:00 to 23:00: Bring the ramp height to 5 and keep the resistance so you can pedal at a swift 150 to 160 spm. Let go of the arm poles, if your elliptical has them, and balance.

  • 23:00 to 23:30: Pedal easily at the ramp height of 5. Hold the arm poles if you like.

  • 23:30 to 25:00:

    Bring the ramp height to 5 and keep the resistance so you can pedal at a swift 150 to 160 spm. Let go of the arm poles, if your elliptical has them, and balance.

  • 25:00 to 30:00: Pedal at a comfortable pace, resistance and ramp height to cool your body down.

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