What Does the Elliptical Machine Help Slim Down in the Upper Body?

by Elle Di Jensen, Demand Media
    The elliptical helps with full-body slimming.

    The elliptical helps with full-body slimming.

    Your lower body shows the fruits of your effort on the elliptical machine with impressive muscle tone. So you might be wondering what upper-body area can see some slimming benefits from the elliptical. The truth is that targeted weight loss doesn't exist, so this low-impact cardio machine won't work its slimming magic on any one upper-body part.

    The Entire Upper Body

    Your legs look so fabulously toned when you use the elliptical regularly because of a combination of two aspects. First, your legs are doing the work, so your muscle tone improves. Second, you're getting an intense cardio workout when you push yourself through a challenging stint on the elliptical machine, so you burn fat while toning. But here's the thing -- you don't just burn fat from your lower body, you burn it from all over your body. So using an elliptical will help slim down your entire upper body -- back fat, love handles and all.

    HIIT the Elliptical

    High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, kicks your metabolism into gear, so it's effective for burning calories and slimming your upper body. You can increase the effectiveness of your elliptical training to slim down by making your elliptical workout into an HIIT workout. In a typical HIIT elliptical workout, you would warm up for five minutes, then speed up to pedal as fast as you can for two to three minutes. At that point slow down to a little more than half as fast for a one-minute recovery interval. Continue to alternate the intervals for about 30 minutes before doing a five-minute cool-down. HIIT is a quick way to get your cardio workout done and be on your way to a slimmer body -- both upper and lower.

    What About the Arm Handles?

    If you use an elliptical machine that has the movable arm handles, you might be thinking, "Certainly this machine will help slim down my upper body!" You'd be right, but probably not in the way you think. Moving the handles back and forth during your workout might help tone your arms a little, but the movement won't tone your torso. However, it will increase the level of cardio you're doing. That added intensity will burn more calories, so you'll see some slimming benefits from a more challenging aerobic workout.

    Elliptical Benefits

    If the elliptical trainer won't specifically target your upper body for slimming, you might wonder why you should use it instead of the treadmill, the stair stepper or any of the other cardio machines in your health club's cardio center. Ultimately, it will help you slim all over, so that's a plus. It's less stressful on your knee and hip joints, too. When you pedal backward on the elliptical you work different leg muscles than when pedaling forward, so it gives you some versatility that other machines might not provide. The bottom line is whether you enjoy using it. If you dread getting on a machine, you'll be more likely to find excuses not to work out and that won't help you slim down at all.

    About the Author

    Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

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