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Elliptical Workouts for Runners

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Jeff

Elliptical Workouts for Runners


The elliptical is one of the machines that you’ll find in every gym, but they don’t mimic running as much as treadmills do. This is why many runners don’t bother themselves with using it. 

However, you might change your mind after this article, so keep on reading.

Do Runners Need to Use the Elliptical?

For a cardio exercise, the elliptical is as beneficial as any other cardio machine for runners and other athletes. While you don’t burn as many calories, you engage more muscles while you’re using the elliptical. 

Also, oxygen consumption and cardiovascular involvement are almost identical.

Although the elliptical will never entirely replace running or using the treadmill, it comes in quite handy in many circumstances in which using the treadmill or running outside isn’t the best option. Runners can make use of the elliptical in the following situations: 


This is the most important use of ellipticals. Accidents are quite common for runners, and the saddest part is that it puts the player off for quite some time. During such periods, runners tend to regress, but not if they use an elliptical.

As you may already know, the elliptical is a low-impact machine, so it doesn’t strain the muscles, and there’s no pressure on the joints either, especially at zero resistance.

During off Season best elliptical workouts for runners

Most runners participate in marathons during the fall season. However, even if a runner engages in all 3 running seasons, this leaves them with an annual 3-month break. 

During this period, a runner needs to maintain their physique while getting some rest, and the elliptical is the best way to keep your progress and get ready to give it your all when the next running season is upon you.


Using the elliptical is a good way to loosen up your muscles before vigorous exercises. Runners don’t just jump right into practice; in fact, a warm-up makes a world of differences as it maximizes your effort and stimulates more blood to flow into your muscles.

Moreover, warming up reduces the chances of muscle aches and injury, and it revs up your cardiac activity, so you’re ready to give it your all and get the best result from your exercises.

The Exerpeutic 260 Air Elliptical and the Exerpeutic Elliptical are both reasonably priced machines for warm-ups. 

Dual Exercise 

Some machines like the Body Rider Dual Trainer can be used as an elliptical trainer and an exercise bike. If you’re a runner and a biker, or you’re looking for various ways to stay fit and work your leg muscles, the elliptical is one of the best ways to go.

What’s The Best Way to Use the Elliptical?

In this section, we’ll discuss some valuable tips that runners should pay attention to before they start their workouts: 

Posture  elliptical workouts for injured runners

Your posture is the key to a good exercise session, and it minimizes your chances of getting injured. During your workout, make sure to hold your shoulders back, keep your back straight, and keep your head held high.

Moreover, it’s best if you’re to push your pelvis forward while pulling your abdominal muscles back. This is essential to put less pressure on your spine and keep it in a neutral position.

A hunched back is your worst enemy while you’re using the elliptical, let alone other machines. So, avoid slouching as much as possible. It’ll feel natural if you’ve been practicing for quite some time, but it’s a bit more challenging for beginners. 


There’s a misconception that more resistance means a better exercise, when in fact, you could be doing more harm than good. 

The best way to use the elliptical is to gradually increase the resistance till you reach the same level you experience while running outside. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll reach the maximum resistance on the machine.

Another thing to keep in mind is the type of exercise you experience while running. In other words, if you run on flat roads, the resistance should stay on the lower end, whereas hill runners are entitled to increase the resistance as much as possible.

Time vs. Distance best elliptical workouts for runners

Distance is one of the trickiest aspects when using an elliptical. Supposedly, using an elliptical is similar to running, but runners need to understand that this is only partially true.

That’s why you shouldn’t plan your workouts depending on the distance. Instead, you should stay time-oriented even if you cover more distance than you usually do when you’re running. This is the only way to ensure you hit the same workout targets. 


Losing focus can easily happen when you’re using an elliptical. Fortunately, it’s not as easy to lose focus when you’re running outside. 

While it’s nice to listen to music while you’re practicing, you need to pay attention to your posture and effort if you want to maximize the effect of your elliptical workout.

What Are Some of the Best Workouts to Carry Out While Using an Elliptical?

The following table contains the most popular workouts that you should try out: 

Workout  Runner’s Level  Exercise
Workout 1 Beginner
  • Step 1: 10 minutes warm-up at zero resistance and zero incline
  • Step 2: Alternate one minute of hard exercise and medium/easy exercise
  • Step 3: Repeat until reaching 6 sets of exercises
  • Step 4: Rest for 8 minutes before your next exercise
Workout 2 Intermediate
  • Step 1: Warm up for 10 minutes
  • Step 2: Run at a medium pace for 20 minutes
  • Step 3: Do 2 minutes of hard exercise
  • Step 4: Take a 90-seconds break
  • Step 5: Repeat 2 minutes of hard exercise up to 5 times in total with 90 seconds recovery between sets
Workout 3 Hill Runners
  • Step 1: 10 min warm-up
  • Step 2: start to increase resistance gradually every 3 minutes
  • Step 3: Increase the resistance as much as you can within 30 to 40 minutes
  • Step 4: Run at no resistance until reaching 1 hour of exercise
Workout 4 Half a Marathon Runners
  • Step 1: 10 minutes warm-up
  • Step 2:  Do 1 minute of hard exercise followed by 1 minute of recovery
  • Step 3: gradually increase the interval till you reach 5 minutes
  • Step 4: End with 5 minutes of easy exercise
Workout 5 Marathon and Long-distance Runners
  • Step 1: 10 minutes warm-up
  • Step 2: 1 minute of low-resistance and high RPM rounds (rounds per minute)
  • Step 3: alternate with 1 minute of high-resistance and low RPM
  • Step 4: repeat till you reach a set of 10 rounds
  • Step 5: 5 minutes of easy exercise to cool down


To recap, working out on an elliptical can definitely be beneficial to runners. Include it in your workout routine to mix things up and work more muscles.

The only thing to look out for is using the elliptical when you have specific injuries. While the elliptical is among the safest machines following injury – some are even designed to be as comfortable as possible for injured runners like the  Gold’s Gym Elliptical – if you have a stress fracture or Achilles tendon rupture, the elliptical can easily make things worse, particularly in the acute phase.