Elliptical Workouts For Weight Loss (3 Free Plans)

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // November 27, 2023

Discover how effective elliptical workouts can be for reaching your weight loss goals. Learn the basics of an elliptical workout and start shedding pounds today!

When it comes to a cardiovascular workout, there are so many different options to choose from. It can be difficult to decide which type of workout is best for you, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. 

If you’re looking for an effective workout that can help you shed those extra pounds, elliptical workouts are a great option.

The elliptical trainer has been a favorite cardio machine 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 to other cardio options. 

An elliptical workout is a type of low-impact aerobic exercise that is easy on the joints. It is a popular choice for people of all fitness levels, as it is a relatively simple machine to use and provides a great workout.

Even better, elliptical machine workouts are considered weight-bearing which is needed for building bone mass. 

Here’s everything you need to know about using elliptical workouts for weight loss.


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    How Can Elliptical Workouts Help With Weight Loss?

    An elliptical workout can help you lose weight in several ways, no matter what your fitness level is. In fact, an elliptical is a good starting point for someone who is looking for a non-intimidating and easy way to get started with cardio exercise.

    Burns Calories

    First, it burns calories. A 150-pound person can burn up to 300 calories in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity elliptical training. And if weight loss is your goal, you can not deny the rule “calories in vs. calories out. 

    You need a calorie deficit to lose body fat and regular elliptical workouts will help you start to see a difference on the scale.

    Tones Muscle

    In addition to burning calories, elliptical workouts also help to tone your muscles. Elliptical workouts target the legs and glutes, so these are the areas that will see the most change if you are consistent.

    If you opt for a cross trainer model, you can grab those handles and really work your arm muscles.

    Boost Metabolism

    Finally, elliptical workouts can help to boost your metabolism by helping you to burn calories and build some muscle. 

    Muscle burns more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat, so if you add muscle to your body, you’ll burn more throughout the day. 

    Low Impact

    Another great bonus is that elliptical workouts are low-impact. They’re easy on your joints. 

    This is important because if you have any joint issues, high-impact, pounding workouts like running can aggravate them. But with an elliptical workout, you can get a great workout with less impact on your joints.

    Improve Heart Health

    Cardiovascular exercise is key to keeping your heart healthy. By raising your heart rate into an aerobic zone regularly, your heart will get stronger and you will start to see changes in your energy and your endurance.  

    A lot of people wonder which type of an exercise machine is right for them. Learn more about the differences between an elliptical vs treadmill to get a better idea!

    woman using elliptical machine for cardio weight loss

    How to Get the Most out of Your Elliptical Workouts

    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.  

    There are 5 keys to making the most out of your elliptical workout, keeping your workouts fresh, and avoiding boredom:

    1. Vary your incline. More incline, lower body muscles used.
    2. Don’t forget resistance. More resistance, more effort needed.
    3. Change direction.  You can pedal forward or backward
    4. Add intervals. Pushing yourself for short bursts of time out of your comfort zone increases calorie burn. 
    5. Use the handles. Most Elliptical trainers also have handles making it a great total body workout.

    When you’re starting an elliptical workout regimen, it’s important to listen to your body. If you start to feel pain or discomfort, stop the workout and consult a doctor. 

    If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to successfully losing weight with elliptical workouts.

    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 muscles differently than a jogging or biking routine.
    • Can be easily used for high-intensity interval training.

    We’ve utilized these tactics to give you 3 calorie-burning elliptical workouts to help you lose weight below. 

    How Often Should You Do Elliptical Workouts to Lose Weight?

    If you’re looking to lose weight, you might be wondering how often you should do elliptical workouts. The good news is that you can see results by working out on the elliptical 3-4 times per week.

    To see the best results from your elliptical workouts, it’s important to focus on intensity. 

    Moderate intensity workouts are great for overall fitness, but if you’re looking to lose weight, push yourself a little harder as you get stronger to burn more calories. 

    Consistency also matters. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of heart pumping exercise per week to stay healthy.  Divide it up throughout the week however you want but get 2.5 hours of cardio exercise in a week.

    woman using weight loss cardio elliptical machine for workout

    The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training on the Elliptical

    Interval training is a great way to get the most out of your elliptical workout. By alternating between periods of high and low intensity, you can maximize your calorie burn and fat loss.

    For example, you might warm up for five minutes at a low intensity, then do two minutes at a high intensity, followed by two minutes at a low intensity. You can repeat this cycle for the duration of your workout.

    Another benefit of interval training on the elliptical is that it is very efficient. 

    You can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time by interval training on the elliptical. In fact, you can burn up to 30% more calories than you would if you were doing a steady-state cardio workout.

    If you’re new to interval training, start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the length of time you spend at high intensity. You should also make sure to warm up and cool down for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity to avoid injury.

    Supplementing Your Elliptical Workouts with Strength Training

    Most people who want to lose weight know that they need to exercise. Just remember variety is good. You can use the elliptical some days, walk other days, or even dance. Whatever you like to do.

    But if you want to lose weight and sculpt your body, I suggest also adding in some strength training.

    Strength training is a great way to supplement your elliptical workouts because it helps you build muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. 

    Strength training also helps you tone your body, which can make your elliptical workouts even more effective.

    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 – 3:005.05.0Forward
    3:00 – 4:008.05.0Forward
    4:00 – 5:009.08.0Forward
    5:00 – 6:0010.08.0Backward
    6:00 – 7:009.010.0Forward
    7:00 – 8:0012.011.0Forward
    8:00 – 9:0010.012.0Backward
    9:00 – 10:0014.012.0Backward
    10:00 – 11:0010.012.0Forward
    11:00 – 12:009.010.0Backward
    12:00 – 13:0010.05.0Forward
    13:00 – 15:005.05.0Forward

    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

    Elliptical Warm-Up

    MinuteResistance InclineDirection
    2 Minutes4.05.0Warm-Up:
    Keep a Steady Pace

    Tabata #1

    2 Minutes6.05.0Forward Pedal
    20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


    2 Minutes10.05.0Backward Pedal
    20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


    1 Minutes4.05.0Recover

    Tabata #2

    2 Minutes12.05.0Forward Pedal
    20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


    2 Minutes8.05.0Backward Pedal
    20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4

    1 Minute4.05.0Cool 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 – 5:003.05.0Warm-Up
    5:00 – 10:008.06.0Endurance: Start to Work
    10:00 – 11:008.06.0Push to Breathless
    11:00 – 13:008.06.0Recover
    13:00 – 14:0010.05.0Push to Breathless
    14:00 – 16:008.05.0Recover
    16:00 – 20:008.05.0Endurance: Steady and Hard
    20:00 – 21:0010.06.0Push to Breathless
    21:00 – 22:008.07.0Recover
    22:00 – 23:0012.07.0Push to Breathless
    23:00 – 24:008.07.0Recover
    24:00 – 28:0010.06.0Endurance: Steady and Hard
    28:00 – 30:003.05.0Cool 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!

    [adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”bBGbfJzo” upload-date=”2020-03-17T12:29:36.000Z” name=”10- Minute Low Impact Intervals Workout” description=”Welcome to our 10 Minute Low Impact Interval Workout! So you want to do interval training but you are afraid of all the jumping and pounding on your joints? This low-impact interval workout will give you all the intensity and challenge of an interval workout without all the impact on your joints! This low impact interval workout is not only kick-butt for your muscles and heart rate, but it can be done in 10 minutes, saving you time and giving you fewer excuses to skip that workout!” player-type=”static”]

    Cardio Workouts, Fitness, Running Workouts, Workouts

    Printed from GetHealthyU.com


    on Reply

    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!

      on Reply

      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!

    on Reply

    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 ?

      on Reply

      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!!

    on Reply

    Is there a particular speed (RPM) to maintain during the workouts?

      on Reply

      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.

    on Reply

    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!

      on Reply

      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!

    on Reply

    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 ?

      on Reply

      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!

    on Reply

    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?

      on Reply

      Hi Jason - I would say to then increase your resistance!

    on Reply

    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.

      on Reply

      Hi Debbie - just take it slow. Do what you can and then every day or every few days slowly increase. Good luck!

    on Reply

    Where should we hold the elliptical?shoulder level or chest level

      on Reply

      It doesn't matter! Whatever feels comfortable for you - just make sure to not scrunch your neck!

    on Reply

    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?

    on Reply

    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.

    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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