Elliptical machines are a popular type of exercise equipment because they let people of all fitness levels enjoy a low-impact cardio workout. These versatile machines allow you to adjust the resistance and, on many machines, the degree of elevation to further intensify your workout. The handles also allow you to work your upper body simultaneously, giving you a more complete workout than stationary bikes or treadmills, according to a study reported in Biology of Sport in 2010.
Elliptical Resistance Workouts
Increasing resistance on the elliptical in your workouts will make you stronger, but it's important to not overdo it. Work out at a resistance level that's sufficient to exert you but still allows you to carry on a conversation. If it's too hard, it's better to scale back than to lose motivation for your workouts.
Elliptical Speed Workouts
As with resistance workouts, speed workouts shouldn't be overdone, and some resistance is necessary. Going too fast on an elliptical could cause injury or cause you to lose your balance, particularly if you're just starting out. Going fast on an elliptical with very low resistance doesn't provide much payoff for your workout anyway because it will take longer to burn calories.
High-Intensity Interval Training
The American Council on Exercise suggests aiming for a combination of speed, resistance and ramp height increases on an elliptical to reach maximum effort for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT includes a warm-up period, then periods of work at maximum intensity and heavier resistance integrated with low-intensity or rest periods.
Checking in With a Doctor
If you're just starting an exercise program or have heart problems or other conditions, like diabetes, that could be precursors to heart problems, Penn Medicine says to check with a doctor to see if you're ready to jump on an elliptical and push it to the limit. Remember that muscles that haven't been used tire faster, so give yourself time to build your strength back.
- Biology of Sport: "Comparison of Muscle Activation During Elliptical Trainer, Treadmill and Bike Exercise"
- American Council on Exercise: "Train Smarter, Not Longer: 30-Minute Elliptical Workout"
- American Council on Exercise: "Try This HIIT Workout on the Elliptical Trainer"
- Penn Medicine: "Do You Need a Heart Check-Up Before Starting an Exercise Program?"