The elliptical trainer has been a favorite in gyms for decades. An elliptical workout puts less stress on the knee and hip joints than running or walking on a treadmill or the road making it a great low-impact alternative cardio workout.
Even better, the elliptical machine workouts are considered weight-bearing which is needed for building bone mass.
How to Use The Elliptical Machine
To use an elliptical machine, carefully step your feet on each pedal and grab the handlebars or handle levers with both arms. Then begin to move your legs in elliptically shaped motions. Most elliptical machines have a motor and a programmable computer that can automatically create varying degrees of resistance.
Get the Most out of Your Elliptical Workouts
There are 5 keys to making the most out of your elliptical workout, keeping your workouts fresh, and avoiding boredom:
- Vary your incline. More incline, lower body muscles used.
- Don’t forget resistance. More resistance, more effort needed.
- Change direction. You can pedal forward or backward
- Add intervals. Pushing yourself for short bursts of time increases calorie burn.
- Use the handles. Most Elliptical trainers also have handles making it a great total body workout.
Benefits of Using The Elliptical Machine
Here are a few of the reasons to do an elliptical workout:
- Gives you a cardio workout that’s easier on your joints than jumping or pounding the pavement.
- Good for all fitness levels; even if you are a beginner or you’re getting back into exercise after an injury.
- The elliptical is a total body workout and can burn a high number of calories if weight loss is your goal.
- Helps improve balance and mobility.
- Offers quick workouts for busy days.
- It feels great for the lower body, using different muscles than a jogging or biking routine.
- Can be easily used for high-intensity interval training.
- You can incorporate upper body movements while using the elliptical with light weights.
We’ve utilized these tactics to give you 3 calorie-burning elliptical workouts to help you lose weight.
3 Elliptical Workouts for Weight Loss
The elliptical workouts below are designed to give you a workout plan that will make your time a little more interesting and more challenging.
By working for different muscle groups and changing things up, these elliptical workouts will shape your lower body, burn more calories, and keep your routine fresh.
1. The Lunch Time Calorie Crunch Elliptical Workout
When you only have 15-minutes, you need an elliptical workout that gets your heart rate up and torches calories fast. Enter: Our Lunch Time Calorie Crunch.
Changing up the resistance and incline often in this quick workout helps you make the most of your time. By using varying inclines and resistance levels, you move your heart rate through different zones.
Plus, you’ll alternate between pedaling backward and forwards which helps you work all your leg muscles in one workout. If you make sure to follow the plan, this 15-minute workout will let you get in and out in record time.
Lunch Time Calorie Crunch Elliptical Workout Plan
|0:00 – 3:00||5.0||5.0||Forward|
|3:00 – 4:00||8.0||5.0||Forward|
|4:00 – 5:00||9.0||8.0||Forward|
|5:00 – 6:00||10.0||8.0||Backward|
|6:00 – 7:00||9.0||10.0||Forward|
|7:00 – 8:00||12.0||11.0||Forward|
|8:00 – 9:00||10.0||12.0||Backward|
|9:00 – 10:00||14.0||12.0||Backward|
|10:00 – 11:00||10.0||12.0||Forward|
|11:00 – 12:00||9.0||10.0||Backward|
|12:00 – 13:00||10.0||5.0||Forward|
|13:00 – 15:00||5.0||5.0||Forward|
Related: 4 Treadmill Workouts To Beat Boredom
2. The 12-Minute Tabata Elliptical Workout
Have 12-minutes to spare? Then you’ll love this Tabata elliptical routine.
This workout gives the elliptical a fresh spark using the Tabata interval training technique. Tabata is a form of HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training.
The concept of elliptical Tabata is this – by going as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds several times in a row, you keep your brain busy and your heart pumping.
The incline remains 5.0 the entire workout, but the resistance and the pace or speed at which you push changes. So have fun and enjoy the ride! Not many people realize an elliptical Tabata workout is an option, but it’s a high intensity way to get your cardio in.
Not everyone has 30 minutes for an elliptical session. No problem, within one minute of an elliptical Tabata workout, your upper and lower body will feel fantastic.
Tabata Elliptical Workout
Keep a Steady Pace
|2 Minutes||6.0||5.0||Forward Pedal
|2 Minutes||10.0||5.0||Backward Pedal
|2 Minutes||12.0||5.0||Forward Pedal
|2 Minutes||8.0||5.0||Backward Pedal
|1 Minute||4.0||5.0||Cool Down|
3. The “Go Big” Interval Challenge Elliptical Workout
This interval challenge will rev your metabolism and you’ll burn more calories as time flies by. In 30 minutes, you will change your resistance and use speed intervals to crank up your metabolism.
Pay attention to the column on the right that says “feeling” and adjust the speed you pedal to match that feeling. Try to vary the forward and backward motion between the intervals to keep all your leg muscles working evenly.
Go Big Interval Challenge Elliptical Workout
|0:00 – 5:00||3.0||5.0||Warm-Up|
|5:00 – 10:00||8.0||6.0||Endurance: Start to Work|
|10:00 – 11:00||8.0||6.0||Push to Breathless|
|11:00 – 13:00||8.0||6.0||Recover|
|13:00 – 14:00||10.0||5.0||Push to Breathless|
|14:00 – 16:00||8.0||5.0||Recover|
|16:00 – 20:00||8.0||5.0||Endurance: Steady and Hard|
|20:00 – 21:00||10.0||6.0||Push to Breathless|
|21:00 – 22:00||8.0||7.0||Recover|
|22:00 – 23:00||12.0||7.0||Push to Breathless|
|23:00 – 24:00||8.0||7.0||Recover|
|24:00 – 28:00||10.0||6.0||Endurance: Steady and Hard|
|28:00 – 30:00||3.0||5.0||Cool Down|
Take these elliptical workouts with you to the gym with your free printable below.
Looking for another way to get your low-impact cardio in? Try this free 10-Minute No Running Cardio Workout!
Chelsey on December 1, 2021 at 9:55 PM
Hi, I noticed on the 20 min tabata it’s really 12 mins total? Or is there something I’m missing? I was trying to know when I need to change intervals at or around approximate times but when you add it all up I get 12 mins total with warm up and cool down. Is this accurate? Also, it’s a good workout! Thank you!
Chris Freytag, CPT on January 5, 2022 at 1:35 PM
Hi Chelsey, Well you are completely correct in saying that it's really only 12 minutes!! You are not missing anything and we have gone in and changed the verbiage to match the correct time of 12 minutes total! To make it a 20 minute workout you would have to double it and do it 2 times through, but we want people to note that if they don't have 20 minutes a quick 12 minute challenging Tabata is all you need! Thanks for point this out for us!
Brandy on March 16, 2021 at 7:46 PM
We just got a elliptical how much should I work out on it a day I was thinking of doing 20 minutes before I go to work and a mile when I get home everyday is that a good plan or should I do something different ?
Chris Freytag on March 17, 2021 at 1:49 PM
Brandy - definitely sounds like a great plan to me! The plan that works best for your schedule is the one that is going to work the best! I don't think you need to go crazy and be on the elliptical for hours... personally that sounds boring (to me of course!) but 30 minutes - 20 before work and another 10 or so after work to hit that mile - is a great plan!!
Tam on November 5, 2019 at 7:53 AM
Is there a particular speed (RPM) to maintain during the workouts?
Chris Freytag on August 18, 2020 at 11:05 AM
Hi Tam - the speed you will want to maintain is something you can hold onto for the entire length of the workout. So for instance if the workout is a 30 minute elliptical workout - you will want to hold onto a pace that you can do the entire 30 minutes. You do not want to start off too fast and not be able to make it through the entire length of time. This number/ RPM is going to be different for every individual.
Aika on May 3, 2019 at 12:45 AM
This is very detailed and informative! I am giving these elliptical workouts a try after I've fully recovered from giving birth. Thank you for sharing this!
Chris Freytag on May 21, 2019 at 5:14 PM
Yay - go you! You will have to stop back after you try these elliptical workouts and let us know how you liked them! It is a great way to switch up your cardio and the elliptical is less impact on the joints than running which can be a nice change of pace! Keep on moving!
joe on January 6, 2019 at 12:47 PM
I did 55 minutes of interval elliptical today, 30 seconds forward at a fast speed, and then 30 seconds backwards at a slow rate, changing direction and speed every 30 seconds, I have high blood pressure and im trying to get it down any advice ?
Chris Freytag on February 20, 2019 at 6:54 PM
Hi Joe - While exercise can lower blood pressure and it's a great idea to live a healthy lifestyle as best you can with eating well and exercising, you will want to make sure you consult your doctor on how to best lower your blood pressure! Continue exercising and eating a healthy diet as this will help, but consult your doctor on additional ways to lower your blood pressure!
Jason on December 4, 2018 at 10:51 AM
Hi Chris, I got to Planet Fitness, and I don't believe their elliptical machines have an incline option. Any suggestions on how to work around that?
Chris Freytag on December 5, 2018 at 1:30 PM
Hi Jason - I would say to then increase your resistance!
Debbie on November 13, 2017 at 5:22 PM
I am overweight, I am 5ft 5in and weigh 195 lbs and I can barely stay on my elliptical for one minute. How do I work up 2 the 15 minutes without killing myself.
Chris Freytag on November 14, 2017 at 7:37 AM
Hi Debbie - just take it slow. Do what you can and then every day or every few days slowly increase. Good luck!
Dr Neeru Mehra on September 13, 2017 at 5:01 AM
Where should we hold the elliptical?shoulder level or chest level
Chris Freytag on September 19, 2017 at 11:51 AM
It doesn't matter! Whatever feels comfortable for you - just make sure to not scrunch your neck!
Ashley on April 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Can't wait to try this workout! On the 20 minute Tabata workout should I come to a complete stop on the 10 second rest or pedal slower?
Fred on March 25, 2015 at 10:11 AM
I'm definitely going to try the first workout, probably today. I don't think the elliptical machines at my gym have an incline however.