Last Updated on June 22, 2021 by JP
The elliptical is one of the machines you’ll use right when you hit the gym. Whether you use it for a warm-up or to burn some calories, it won’t be long before you notice how easy it is to use, especially when compared to other machines that are more straining.
This has led to a common misconception that these machines aren’t as beneficial as other cardio machines, when in fact, it’s one of the safest and most useful machines for a handful of reasons.
In this article, we’ll explain how beneficial an elliptical is to your exercising routine, which muscles it targets, and who will benefit the most from it, so keep on reading.
Elliptical trainers are known for getting both the lower and the upper body involved, targeting multiple muscles, including the calves, anterior tibialis, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles. Studies show that you engage around 80% of your body muscles while using an elliptical.
The key to getting the best out of an elliptical is to maintain your posture while exercising. You should be standing upright and straight, and your feet should be stable on the pedals at a suitable distance depending on your height.
As you may already know, there are certain aspects that determine the degree of your exercise. Even for an entry-level elliptical like the Schwinn 430 Elliptical, you’ll find multiple programs, including different workout profiles, heart rate control programs, fitness tests, and more.
The main controls of your workout are the time of the workout, incline, resistance, and leg rotation. This allows beginners to do less intense exercise and those with more experience to do High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT elliptical exercises).
It’s worth mentioning that elliptical exercises can improve the performance of your internal organs by increasing the strength of your heart muscle. Moreover, you’ll notice a significant improvement when it comes to balancing and maintaining your fitness.
However, an elliptical isn’t the right choice to increase the muscle bulk, and while it strengthens different muscles and builds bone density, it won’t help you gain muscle because it doesn’t add much strain on your body, not like lifting weights, for instance.
How Does Elliptical Training Protect Your Joints?
There are three different reasons why an elliptical is a great option if you want to protect your joints.
Using an elliptical is a form of low-impact exercise. It’s not as stressful for your knees, hips, and back as a treadmill because you don’t hit or impact the ground. Instead, your feet stay on the footpads throughout the entire exercise.
The type of movement you carry out on the elliptical is called a closed chain movement and doesn’t require much stabilization even if you increase the resistance and incline.
Increasing Muscle Strength
As mentioned earlier, the elliptical increases the strength of the muscles. This is protective of the surrounding joint because when the blood supply to the muscles and cartilage increases, they become healthier.
Moreover, you move your joints while exercising, which makes a world of difference when it comes to rehabilitation and keeping arthritic joints as healthy as possible.
Help With Recovery
Depending on the degree of injury and stage of your recovery, an elliptical can help you get back on track and start using your limb again. If your treating physician approves using an elliptical, you should start with low-intensity exercises under professional guidance.
The good news is, there are many newer models that are easy to use in such circumstances. They offer a convenient touchscreen interface like the Nordictrack Free Strider and the Nordictrack Elliptical Spacesaver, both of which include multiple applications that’ll help you track your progress during recovery.
There’s no doubt that the elliptical will help you burn calories, and thus, have a better body image. However, you can’t depend on it entirely to lose fat at a certain spot, let alone reshape specific areas.
Adding resistance can make you reach your goal faster, but you still need to do a variety of other exercises and work on your diet. For example, if you want to trim your inner thighs, you can increase the speed of the elliptical, the resistance, and the incline. Yet, you’ll need to do lunges and pile squats.
It’s worth mentioning that even if you add resistance to certain areas, that doesn’t mean you won’t be losing fat in this specific area or other areas. As you exercise, the caloric burn increases throughout your entire body in all the areas where fat is stored.
Absolutely, the elliptical is a cardio machine, and all cardio machines help with weight loss. It’s estimated that the elliptical can burn around 300 to 400 calories in 30 minutes. What you need to focus on is the intensity of your exercise.
It goes without saying that as the intensity increases, the more fat you lose. This is why we recommend using an elliptical that has multiple training programs like the Proform Endurance 520e.
This machine has around 18 workout programs and keeps the stats on your screen as you exercise. It can’t be said enough, though, you’ll get the best result if you combine exercise with the right diet, and that’s the fastest way to reach your goal.
To sum up, the elliptical ensures your body stays in good shape, increases your muscle tone, decreases body fat, and increases cardiovascular endurance. Most machines can track your progress as well as different stats, including oxygen combustion, heart rate, and burned calories.
That said, make sure that you get professional advice if you have any joint or cardiac conditions before using any cardio machine; the elliptical included. As beneficial as exercising on an elliptical can be, it’s a double-edged weapon in such cases, so make sure you’re on the right track. Your safety should always come first.