Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by JP
An elliptical machine is an excellent way of getting your cardio in for the week. Not only can it work with your upper and lower body at the same time, but it’s also incredibly easy on the knees and ankles if you maintain a good posture and place your foot flat on the pedal.
Nonetheless, as with all forms of cardio, using an elliptical can get a bit boring after a while. However, if you incorporate HIIT in your elliptical exercise sessions, your workouts will get a whole lot more fun, and you’ll also see great results.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of HIIT, we’ll walk you through what it is and how you should incorporate it in your elliptical workouts.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. As the name indicates, it involves exercising vigorously for a short interval, followed by a slower and less exhausting recovery phase.
During HIIT, you keep alternating between these two phases for a period that usually lasts anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. That typically means that you repeat these two phases 4 to 6 times.
The length and intensity of each phase will depend on your endurance and fitness level, so you shouldn’t push yourself to the point of injury. Your goal should be to raise your heart rate, recover a bit, and then repeat.
Benefits of HIIT
Now, you may be wondering how such a short workout can be any good. We’ll explain the reasoning behind HIIT right now.
A HIIT workout, short as it is, can produce similar results to those produced by a much longer exercise that’s consistent in its pace and intensity.
HIIT can burn 25-30% more calories than other forms of regular exercise. It has also been shown to increase your metabolic rate for several hours after you finish your session, more so than typical exercise methods.
Another added benefit is that HIIT is especially effective in burning visceral fat, which is the fat that wraps around your organs and can promote lots of diseases. HIIT can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels in overweight and obese people with elevated blood pressure and diabetes.
Lastly, perhaps the most notable advantage of HIIT over regular exercise is the lack of monotony since there’s a constant switch between the active and recovery phases. Consequently, you won’t lose interest in working out and will keep on exercising.
What Does a HIIT on the Elliptical Look Like?
With an elliptical, you have mainly three options available to increase the intensity of your workout.
You can push yourself when you increase your speed. By picking up your pace for a short duration, you significantly raise your heart rate and work your muscles harder than usual.
At a higher incline, your muscles have to work harder to raise you up. Most NordicTrack ellipticals, as well as the Proform Endurance 520E Elliptical, can go from a zero to a 20-degree incline in no time.
Once you’ve built up your endurance, you can really make your workout challenging by choosing a resistance that’s difficult to move against. It’s better to avoid increasing the inclination and speed and just focus on the resistance to see some muscle gains.
Many ellipticals, like the Nautilus E614 Elliptical and the Schwinn Elliptical, offer 20 and more Eddy Current Brake resistance settings for variable levels of challenge and intensity for the user. They even have numerous pre-set programs and features for easier and more efficient workouts.
You can read our reviews, like the Schwinn 470 Elliptical review, if you want to find out more about the features and properties of certain ellipticals.
Example of a HIIT Workout
- Start with a 5-10 minutes warm-up at a leisurely pace with no inclination.
- Once you’re all warmed up, push yourself for 30 seconds at an increased speed, incline, or resistance. The intensity should challenge you but overwhelm you.
- Once the 30 seconds are up, go back to a comfortable intensity until you recover. According to each individual’s needs, this recovery period can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
- Make sure you don’t stop during the recovery period. Keep going until you catch your breath a bit.
- Repeat this process 3-5 more times or until you reach your time goal.
- Cool down for 4-5 minutes, and you’re done for the day.
- Take a rest day between each HIIT session so that your body can recover.
- As you gradually gain strength and endurance from constantly working out, you can increase the duration of the active interval for a more significant challenge. You can also crank up the resistance or raise the inclination more than you usually do. The goal here is to push your body out of its comfort zone to gain the benefits of HIIT.
To Wrap Up
HIIT is a great way to exercise and stay healthy, especially if you can’t dedicate much of your time to working out.
If you’re new to working out and have led a sedentary lifestyle till now, start exercising on your elliptical for 10 minutes or so, three times a week. Once you’re adept at using the machine, start pushing yourself more and more each time. With perseverance and regular exercise, you’ll become fit in no time.