Does Doing the Elliptical Trainer Make Your Legs & Butt Bigger?

cross trainer in row with a view to the ocean
Row of elliptical machines (Image: ER09/iStock/Getty Images)

You may know it as an elliptical trainer, elliptical machine or elliptical crosstrainer. All of these titles describe the low-impact exercise machine that has gliding foot pedals with movable upright poles. Climbing aboard an elliptical for a workout brings changes to your body without excessive impact to your back, hips and knees. If you are concerned about getting bigger thighs and a bigger butt, you have nothing to fear.

Leaner Legs and Butt

The repetitive, cross-country skiing motion performed on the elliptical is a form of cardiovascular exercise. This form of training not only prevents your legs and butt from becoming bigger, but it actually makes them smaller. Any time you perform cardio, you burn calories efficiently and potentially lose weight. A 200-pound person burns about 715 calories on the elliptical in 60 minutes exercising at a moderate pace. If this was your body size and you exercised five days in a week, without increasing your calorie intake, you would lose over 1 pound.

Muscle Tone, Not Size

The elliptical works multiple muscles throughout the upper and lower body. This increases your muscle size, but only by a marginal amount. However, this does improve the tone and definition of your muscles and give them a leaner look. The main muscles targeted are the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, deltoids and triceps.

Metabolic Lift

Even though elliptical training only adds a small amount of muscle, it still helps boost your resting metabolic rate. Exercise in general causes a higher metabolism. This means you burn more calories around the clock, even while in bed sleeping. With a faster metabolism, you will further keep your leg and butt size down. High-intensity exercise boosts your metabolism even more. A good way to do this is with interval training. While you glide on the elliptical, alternate your speed back and forth from fast to slow.

Resistance on Machine

Elliptical machines come equipped with a resistance adjustment. Turning it up will make you work your muscles harder, but it will not make them bigger. This will also increase your caloric expenditure and further burn fat through your body.

Additional Benefits of Elliptical Training

Elliptical training causes your heart rate to go up and you also breathe heavier while exercising. This helps strengthen the heart and lungs. You also improve your aerobic capacity, which enables you to exercise at a higher intensity for a longer time frame. You are able to do this without experiencing a high amount of impact on your joints too.

Strength Training

If you do want to make your legs and butt bigger, you need to perform strength training. Choose exercises that involve all the muscles in the lower body like squats, deadlifts, leg extensions, leg curls and calf raises. To insure you fully work your muscles, use a heavy resistance and move through a full range of motion.

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