Cardio 101: How to Use the Elliptical for Fat Loss

How To Use The Elliptical For Fat Loss

Elliptical trainers can be your best friends in the battle of the bulge, but when you don’t really know how to maximize your workout, you may be spending a lot of energy and seeing very little result.  Even though your time on the elliptical can burn about 773 calories an hour, many new users don’t achieve anywhere near this number because they’re not using the equipment as well as they could.

Don’t worry, though, you’re not the only person who isn’t entirely sure how to use an elliptical for fat loss!  Here are some tips for the next time you’re at the gym or plowing through a workout on your home machine:

Increase the resistance.  Beginning exercisers make this mistake frequently — they believe that they need to start with no resistance in order to build up to greater things.  Unfortunately, with the way the elliptical works, you’ve got to have some resistance to burn fat.  If you can hear the machine purring, you probably need more resistance.  Turn up the difficulty until you can feel a little strain in your muscles in just one or two strides.

Reverse gears.  Going forward is one thing, but going in reverse works a whole different set of muscles (namely the hamstrings and glutes) — and can help fight your body’s propensity for developing exercise fatigue.  Interval train by going forward for a few minutes, then going backward.  You’ll work more muscles and bust more fat.

Grab the handles.  You should honestly never touch the fixed handles if you want a fat-busting workout, but if your machine has handles that move back and forth as you pedal, hold on to them for dear life.  Using the handles works the upper body as well as the lower, creating more opportunities for burning fat.

It’s not a race.  Going too fast on an elliptical can actually be counter-productive.  When you slam the pedals down, you can increase your momentum to a point where the machine itself can carry most of the load.  Take it slow and steady — if the workout doesn’t make your legs feel like Jell-o, you’re doing it wrong.  Crank up the resistance and watch the fat melt away.

Vary your workout.  No matter how much you mix it up on the elliptical, you can’t be a one trick pony and hope to lose lots of fat — eventually you’re going to plateau.  Getting off the elliptical can be as beneficial as being on it — try mixing in some basic strength training once or twice a week and see how much faster your body transforms.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a piece of equipment like an elliptical to your home gym, we’ve got some useful Proform elliptical reviews on our site to help make that decision a little easier.  When you’re not sure what type of equipment is right, you should also take a peek at at least one Proform treadmill review.  Having one of these machines in your home will give you the freedom to exercise when and how it’s convenient for you.  Plus, you’ll never have to wait for or wipe down another sweaty gym machine again!

Which is your favorite cardio machine?  Elliptical or Treadmill?

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16 Replies to "Cardio 101: How to Use the Elliptical for Fat Loss"

  • comment-avatar
    Deborah
    Twitter:
    June 2, 2015 (7:44 am)

    Varying the speed and distance are very helpful for me otherwise I get in a too easy rhythm .

  • comment-avatar
    Dapinder June 2, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    This post is super helpful! I have an elliptical at home, and have been wanted to jump-start my summer workout routine with it – will keep your tips in mind! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Julia
    Twitter:
    June 2, 2015 (2:52 pm)

    While I am home for the summer, I have been utilizing our at-home elliptical machine and I love it! Increasing the resistance has been my goal recently, but my goodness it is difficult! Love the sweat it produces though.

    • comment-avatar
      Diatta
      Twitter:
      June 2, 2015 (9:49 pm)

      Looks are deceiving. It’s a challenging piece of equipment.

  • comment-avatar
    Wendy June 2, 2015 (7:18 pm)

    I’m not a fan of the elliptical. I’ve tried it a few times for cross training, and it just didn’t do it for me. I do like my treadmill–it’s an old ProForm that I’ve had for almost 18 years! My husband replaced the belt, and it chugs along…

    • comment-avatar
      Diatta
      Twitter:
      June 2, 2015 (9:15 pm)

      Wendy we had to breakdown and get a new treadmill. It died after eleven years. Sniff sniff. I do own an elliptical and its a good cardio option for those with bad knees.

  • comment-avatar
    Linz
    Twitter:
    June 2, 2015 (9:46 pm)

    i really like the elliptical but i can’t read on it – so if i want to read, i do the stairs

  • comment-avatar
    Julie
    Twitter:
    June 3, 2015 (6:50 am)

    I actually love the elliptical. It’s easy to coast on, so you have to push it. The resistance is my favorite way to up it as well.

  • comment-avatar
    Nicole (Nicole's Lifestyle Lounge)
    Twitter:
    June 3, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    This was great info.Now I’m armed to maximize my next elliptical session.

    • comment-avatar
      Diatta
      Twitter:
      June 3, 2015 (3:08 pm)

      Yes chile don’t underestimate the power of the elliptical.

  • comment-avatar
    Tamieka
    Twitter:
    June 3, 2015 (4:37 pm)

    No cardio machines for me as I work out at home so running is my cardio. The treadmill and i never got along-I would probably end up on somebodies youtube video actually-lol!!

  • comment-avatar
    Laura July 10, 2016 (1:30 pm)

    I haven’t used the elliptical lately since giving up my gym membership, but these tips are great on any cardio tool- mixing it up is always better than steady state!

    • comment-avatar
      Diatta
      Twitter:
      July 10, 2016 (1:44 pm)

      Absolutely!! The name of the game is change things up.

  • comment-avatar
    GiGi Eats
    Twitter:
    July 10, 2016 (9:37 pm)

    My elliptical trainer is seriously my best best best friend!!!!! I am going to have to buy one when I move into a house with my fiance!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Rethinking That WienerMy Profile

  • comment-avatar
    Amber Vesey
    Twitter:
    July 17, 2016 (8:14 am)

    I go in phases with the elliptical – at times, it was all I used, but now I am back to doing sprintervals outside or on the treadmill! love that you said “hold on for dear life”
    Amber Vesey recently posted…RUN 10 FEED 10 RAFFLE & GOODIE GIVEAWAYMy Profile

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