How to Lose 20 Pounds Using an Elliptical Trainer

Fans of the elliptical love (well, at least, like) the machine for it's low-impact, steady-state workouts. Regular cardio exercise is essential for good health; in fact, everyone should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week, according to the American Heart Association.

Paired with a healthy diet, the elliptical trainer can help progress you toward your weight loss goals. (Image: Getty/Skynesher)

But cardio exercise, like hopping on the elliptical, can help promote weight loss, too. If you're looking to lose 20 pounds, you already know regular sweat sessions are going to be crucial to help you progress toward your goal. With some tweaks to your favorite elliptical workouts, you can easily craft a high-intensity routine to increase your calorie expenditure and help you get where you want to be.

Creating an Elliptical Workout for Weight Loss

If weight loss is your goal, you need to create a sustainable calorie deficit using both diet and exercise. Finding the best calorie deficit for your body takes a little trial and error, but you can begin by finding your maintenance calorie level. Either track your calorie intake for several days or use an online maintenance calculator.

From there, create a safe calorie deficit between 500 and 1,000 calories per day, recommends the Mayo Clinic. A deficit is created when you burn more calories than you consume. Remember, the goal is to create a sustainable plan, so if cutting 500 calories leaves you feeling hungry, only cut 200. It's important to consider what's best for your body.

The calories you burn during exercise also contribute to your weight loss. Cue, the elliptical: In general, spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine will burn about 335 calories, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Weight loss isn't an overnight process, especially if you want to keep the weight off in the long term. If you maintain a sustainable 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit, you can expect to drop around 1 to 2 pounds per week. While your elliptical workout will definitely help you reach your goal, it'll be a lot harder without also maintaining a healthy diet.

Maximizing Elliptical Benefits With HIIT

While the elliptical trainer can be a great weight-loss tool, it can also get a little monotonous over time. Luckily, you can incorporate intervals into your workout, which will not only increase calorie burn and speed up weight loss, but also cut down on the total time you spend on the machine.

High-intensity interval training or HIIT workouts involve alternating between set intervals of high-intensity work, followed by low-intensity recovery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Try altering the pace or resistance of the elliptical to a hard-to-sustain level, depending on your current fitness level. You should feel too breathless to speak in full sentences during your high-intensity interval, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Your recovery periods should feel comfortable and conversational.

Once you've settled on the pace and resistance needed for your high- and low-intensity periods, begin to alternate between the two. For example, you might time your intense interval for one minute and rest for two. Or, if you're new to exercise, your recovery interval might be three minutes. The key to elliptical weight loss is challenging yourself while keeping your intervals consistent.

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