The elliptical machine is commonly overshadowed by the more popular treadmill, stair-stepper, and stationary bike. Myths that ellipticals are boring, difficult to use, or only suited for those recovering from injury often take precedence. The truth of this unique cardio machine is that it provides the perfect bang for your buck when it comes to working out.
Since they provide a whole-body workout, elliptical machines are considered cross-trainers. As you move the handlebars and foot pedals, the entire body is called to action. The back, arms, chest, and legs work simultaneously to operate the elliptical, giving you quite the workout in the process.
While you may not be familiar with ellipticals, they offer various benefits that people of all fitness levels can take advantage of during a workout. You may even become inspired to try an iFIT elliptical workout! We’re highlighting all of the top benefits you can expect from elliptical workouts.
Benefits for general fitness
While many believe elliptical machines are only useful for injury recovery, this is only a part of the entire picture. For new and seasoned fitness enthusiasts alike, ellipticals can provide a heart-pumping workout that will contribute to physical fitness, cardiovascular health, and more.
Elliptical workouts are very effective, offering variety and challenge for any fitness level! Here are some of the most significant fitness benefits you can expect from elliptical training.
Ellipticals offer a full-body workout
One of the most significant benefits of elliptical training is the upper and lower body workout. With the foot pedals and moving handlebars, the user must make use of their entire body to operate the machine.
If you’ve never used an elliptical before, it may look too easy to truly deliver a great workout. In a study examining the oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and heart rate on a treadmill versus an elliptical, researchers found that “…oxygen consumption and energy expenditure are similar in spite of a higher heart rate on the elliptical.” This means that the elliptical provided as much of a challenge as the treadmill! You can expect to get just as good of a workout on an elliptical as you would on a treadmill.
Another elliptical study compared the muscle activity patterns of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles during four examined conditions. Participants engaged in overground walking, treadmill walking, stationary cycling, and elliptical training. Interestingly, “elliptical training demonstrated greater quadriceps activity and greater quadriceps/hamstrings coactivation than all other conditions.” If you questioned the elliptical’s ability to engage the leg muscles, there’s your answer!
To reap the full spectrum of benefits that elliptical training offers, try to let go of the handlebars. This will help evenly distribute the resistance between your upper and lower body while on the machine. When in motion, your leg muscles will work alongside the back, chest, bicep, and tricep muscles.
Boost cardiovascular fitness
If you’re looking for a way to target your cardiovascular health, an elliptical workout may be just what you need. Since elliptical machines are as physically demanding as treadmills and other types of equipment, you can expect regular aerobic exercise to improve your cardiovascular health.
As you use the elliptical, your heart and lungs must work hard to keep up with your chosen intensity. For beginners, elliptical workouts may seem very taxing. Over time, you’ll develop the stamina and strength needed to crush your workouts!
As you tick off regular elliptical exercises, you’ll burn some serious calories in the process. Even just a 30-minute elliptical workout can help you along your fitness journey, no matter what your specific goals are. From getting back in shape to preparing for a long-distance hike, elliptical training can be incredibly useful, engaging, and versatile.
Benefits for injuries, joint pain, and recovery
Whether you’re recuperating after an injury, struggling with joint pain, or searching for a way to enhance your recovery, ellipticals are excellent for no-impact cardio workouts. For those who want a challenge or avenue back into fitness without high-impact, ellipticals are the way to go. These are a few highly notable benefits, some of which may be just what you’ve been looking for in a cardio equipment choice.
Provides a weight-bearing exercise
The elliptical is a great tool for rehabilitation as it provides a weight-bearing exercise. This means that you are on your feet with your bones supporting your weight as you exercise. There are many different types of weight-bearing exercise, but elliptical training offers an extremely low-impact workout experience. This type of exercise is a great way to keep osteoporosis at bay, which becomes a significant concern for women as they age.
With elliptical machines, your feet are always positioned on the pedals and your body is supported by the machine. Because of this, ellipticals are considered “no-impact.”
Running can often cause joint discomfort for those who struggle with knee, ankle, or foot pain. As the feet hit the ground, the impact of the movement can put stress on the legs. This is why the elliptical is such a stand-out machine. Working out on one of these majorly reduces stress on the knees, hips, and back.
Has arthritis held you back from your fitness goals in the past? An elliptical workout can help you get back to exercising as joint pain is usually less severe than with running or jogging.
Another benefit of the elliptical’s design is it mimics the motion of walking. Those who think ellipticals are difficult to use might be surprised to find that they’re quite simple to operate. Many ellipticals are equipped with foot pedals that adjust with your stride, so the movement feels just as natural as walking. You won’t have to worry about strain on your joints that can arise from high-impact aerobic exercise.
Recovery & cross-training
Even if you’re an avid runner or weightlifter, ellipticals are useful recovery tools that you may overlook. Overuse injury can be of concern for competitive athletes, especially runners, cyclists, and more.
Exercising for too long and taking on too much physical activity all at once can lead to overuse injuries. While this can happen to anyone, older athletes are more prone to this type of injury. There are ways to circumvent overuse injury, and cross-training is one of them.
Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean a day of no physical activity. On the contrary, you can engage in light aerobic exercise while allowing your body to recover from tough workouts. On days where you are not engaging in high-intensity activity, consider elliptical exercise for active recovery. With its impact-free design and full-body engagement, this machine is perfect for recovery. The motion allows you to use different types of muscle groups without overloading a specific group. Elliptical workouts can help you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the more challenging workout sessions in the future.
Many fitness enthusiasts enjoy wrapping up a bodyweight or weight training workout with steady-state cardio. This serves as a period to cool down and recover before finishing up for the session. Next time, try adding a low to moderate-intensity elliptical cardio workout to your routine!
Benefits for everyday life
If you’re like many, your day-to-day life is incredibly busy. When your career, family, and social life are taken into consideration, you may not feel like you have time for fitness. Luckily, you can maximize your time and cross off an effective home workout with an elliptical. With their easy-to-use design, ellipticals can feel much more realistic for you to get back on your fitness journey without spending hours working out.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys getting more than one thing done at once, ellipticals are the perfect cardio machine to multitask on. As we discussed before, elliptical machines mimic natural movement, which some find is like walking midair. Because of this, it’s very easy to do other things while getting your workout in.
You’ll naturally get into the motion of walking, so it won’t require any additional brainpower like a treadmill or stationary bike would. Maybe you haven’t had time to crack open that new novel you picked up a month ago. With elliptical workouts, you can burn those calories and engross yourself in a good read at the same time. You can also watch your favorite TV shows, video call with friends or family, respond to emails, and so much more.
Elliptical workouts don’t have to be monotonous. If that book or show isn’t entertaining enough, iFIT is sure to provide the excitement you need to keep clocking in those workouts. When you sign up for a free 30-day trial of iFIT, you’ll have access to a comprehensive library of Global Workouts that will take you on grand adventures all over the world.
While you build stamina, burn calories, and strengthen your body, you can explore locations you’ve only dreamt of visiting with fun, engaging trainers and guides. When you have a great personality leading you through an elliptical workout, you won’t even notice the time as it passes by.
Getting the most out of your elliptical workouts
There is more to ellipticals than simply hopping on. While there are many fantastic benefits for the taking, it’s important to pay attention to proper form and your body movement to get the most out of elliptical exercise. Before starting your next elliptical workout, make sure you keep a mental checklist of the following:
When using an elliptical, it’s crucial that you keep good posture in mind. If you’re multitasking on the elliptical, it can be all too easy to fall out of proper form. As you relax while reading or watching a show, you may find yourself hunched over or allowing the handlebars to do the work for you.
Do your best to stay conscious of your body during the entire workout. Not only will this help engage your upper and lower body muscles correctly, it will also keep aches and pains at bay from poor stature. Make it a point to keep the shoulders back, head up, and abdominals tight while exercising. Don’t look down!
Don’t rely on the handlebars
Another important point to remember is to not allow the handlebars to act as your crutch during an elliptical class. When you lean on the handlebars, it decreases the resistance for the lower body, which is not what you want when exercising. While it may feel better for a moment, this action will detract from your potential results. Instead, try to use the handlebars as infrequently as possible, allowing resistance to be evenly distributed between your upper and lower body.
A great time to utilize the handlebars is during a recovery period while engaged in HIIT intervals, as the support will help slow your heart rate before ramping it back up. Another instance is when you’re pushing through tough resistance and need that extra help from the handlebars. While they’re certainly available for use at any time, don’t depend on the handlebars the entire workout. As a bonus, good posture will even help improve your balance as you let your core stabilize your body.
Getting started with elliptical exercises
You can get started on maximizing your elliptical exercises right at home! You can easily knock out a 15 to 20-minute HIIT workout on an elliptical that is sure to have you feeling the burn. There are two ways you can begin this type of interval training.
After warming up for a few minutes, you can launch into 30 seconds of high-intensity pedaling with a 15-second recovery period. You can also opt to do 60 seconds of all-out work followed by 30 seconds of recovery to bring the heart rate back down.
These HIIT workouts are highly effective, so they don’t need to be very long to be productive. That’s why HIIT classes are so popular with busy fitness enthusiasts today. After trying HIIT a few times, you might feel ready for something more engaging that grabs your attention. That’s where iFIT elliptical classes come in!
Try an iFIT elliptical workout today!
Ellipticals can provide effective workouts that target your entire body. With an iFIT-enabled elliptical, you can sweat it out in your own home gym whenever you’d like!
If you’re ready to get started in elliptical classes, sign up for your first one with iFIT. Our elliptical workouts take you from the studio and beyond to scenic locations like New Zealand, Vietnam, Hawaii, the Swiss Alps, and more. With an on-demand personal trainer, you’ll reach new heights in your fitness journey with our workout classes. It’s easy to find new workouts to join on the iFIT elliptical app.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.