Elliptical Machine Workouts for Beginners to Advanced

One of the best assets of using an elliptical is that you can vary the resistance and vary your speed. By changing up these factors of your workout you can reap more benefits than going at a stagnant pace. Switching it up gets your blood pumping quickly and easy.

This is why all of our recommended exercises incorporate intervals. By performing at a variety of speeds, time intervals, incline and resistance, you will make the most out of your elliptical workout. See the chart on exercise one for example.

1. For beginners. If you’ve never tried the elliptical machine before this is a great starter. And the muscle groups it targets are: quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

It uses all the different features of the machine, which gives you an idea of what it can do. Try to push the handles to tone your chest, but start slow. We know it’s new for you!

2. Get lean and mean with this hour long workout. When you graduate from 20-30 minute workouts this is a great challenge to work on. Like the workout table above, this workout incorporates a variety of speeds, and since it takes more time you can really torch those calories.

Only instead of performing these time tables increase the intervals to two minutes at a high resistance, say level 5, then three minutes at level 3, then two minutes at an higher resistance of level 7, then three minutes at level 5. You’ll be blown away by what you’re capable of and by the results you see.

3. Build that booty workout. The elliptical is great for building your backside, whether it’s for looks or for function. Runners and cyclists often use the elliptical to cross train and build stronger buns to improve their performance. This workout will help with both!

The way to target your glutes is by adjusting the incline on the elliptical. Target glutes and hamstrings by playing with the incline on the elliptical. Start at an incline of 5, and resistance at level 3. After warming up for 5 minutes push your incline to 7, and resistance level of 5.

Make sure you’re strides per minute stay above 110 and are gradually increasing with your incline and resistance. The idea is to start slow and gradually increase your intensity. Try to keep your heel down to really push the glute muscles.

4. Hard Core Workout. The best way to work your core while on the elliptical is to let it go. Try not to use the handles, whether they move or are stationary. Not relying on the handles will engage all muscles of your core as difficulty increases. Trying to balance is exactly what will help build those muscles to get you rock solid abs. The faster you go, the better workout for the core.

5. Better than the treadmill. Occasionally you might crave a treadmill workout but find that they are all full. No sweat. You can burn as much calories with the elliptical as on the treadmill. For this work out, make your intervals vary from 3 minutes to 5 minutes.

During the five minute intervals you don’t need to push yourself too hard, but hard enough to keep a sweat going. When you get to three-minute intervals, spike your resistance level, try to push it 3 degrees higher than the level you were at for the 5-minute intervals.

If you can, let go of the handles and mimic a running arm motion to help stabilize the core. This slow burning workout will really melt those calories.

6. Switch it up. Over time, you may get tired of just using one cardio machine. No problem! Switch it up. You can try an alternating workout where you perform intervals on the elliptical and switch them up with the bike.

The frequent change will spice things up and add some variety to your work out routine, which is also great for your cardio. Changing up your routine gets your heart to reach new stamina levels and challenges muscle groups in new ways.

7. Short on time. If you’re a lunch hustler and want to squeeze in a quick work out try a 22 minute routine. Set a small incline and begin hustling with two minute-intervals, gradually increasing as you go up (like always).

Every two minutes go at breakneck speed, as fast as you can, then recover for two minutes. You’ll find these shorter but more intense workouts push you harder than some longer exercises.

High intensity workouts are actually proven to burn more calories if you do push yourself. The best part is the after-burn effect, when the body continues to burn calories at a higher rate. This means you spent less time working out and still got awesome benefits. Try it!

8. Interval Shrinking. One way to push your interval envelope. In case you haven’t gathered yet, using consistent interval workouts is the best way to push yourself and get the most out of your elliptical work out.

Shortening the intervals pushes your cardio levels when your heart is adjusting to changes in speed. This means more work, more burn. To up your elliptical game incorporate sprinting.

Start slow with short 1-minute intervals of sprints, buoyed by 2-minute intervals of recovery. The higher the intensity of your sprints, the better the burn.

9. Total body. Set an incline to 20 percent. To push your core, try to keep your hands on your hips every other interval. On the intervals you are not removing your hands, practice the reverse stride function to build coordination and challenge your leg muscles in a new way. Hang on to the functions for this part at first, as it can be hard to get used to.

There are so many elliptical exercises for cardio that you’ll never get bored. The joint-friendly gliders and total body workout potential makes it one of the best machines to turn to for cardio workouts.

In case you’re looking for an elliptical machine for a home use, make sure you read this in-depth buying guide about top rated elliptical machines.

About the Author:

Laura Bierman is a home improvement enthusiast, who has been in the industry for more than 15 years. Her passion is to share her expertise through writing on a wide range of home improvement topics. Laura is a director of editorial content and an Editor-in-Chief at YouthfulHome.com, a rapidly-growing, North American homeowner and contractor portal.