If you are spending hours at the gym doing crunch after crunch with few results, don't despair. Getting rid of your muffintop may be easier than you think. By adjusting your cardio routine to include time on an elliptical machine, you benefit from both aerobic exercise and a full-body workout that helps tone your legs, glutes and core.
Abdominal Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
When it comes to burning unwanted abdominal fat, aerobic exercise is key. While many previously thought resistance training was more effective for fat burning, a Duke University study published in the "American Journal of Physiology" found that aerobic exercise is the most effective means for burning the abdominal fat responsible for heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Because the elliptical machine provides heart-healthy aerobic exercise, burns high amounts of calories in a short amount of time and is low impact, it is a good option for those whose goals are to lose weight and get rid of belly fat.
The elliptical machine is one of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment because it allows you to involve both your upper and lower body, move in either a forward or backward direction and adjust the speed, resistance and intensity of your workout. Because of this versatility, muscle groups targeted by elliptical movement include the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, biceps and triceps, as well as muscles of the chest and back. The elliptical machine is also effective for whittling your waistline, because you must rely on your core abdominal muscles to keep your body upright and your posture straight as you move through your stride. To further activate your core muscles, remove your hands from the poles while you move.
Weight-Bearing Exercise Without the Impact
Elliptical movement differs from the type of movements performed on a treadmill or stationary bike. Because the machine requires an upright position, you benefit from weight-bearing activity, but your feet remain planted on the pedals throughout the duration of your workout, which reduces joint impact. This makes using an elliptical machine an attractive option for those who suffer from joint pain. For people with back pain, using an elliptical machine is especially recommended because it strengthens the back and abdominal muscles without the jarring impact that often accompanies other weight-bearing activities, such as running. As with any exercise, however, you should always consult your physician before using an elliptical machine.
Making the Most of Your Elliptical Workout
If the elliptical machine is already part of your gym regimen and you are not getting the benefits you want, your posture could be to blame. If you are leaning against the poles as you move through your stride, you are not engaging your core muscles. This not only prevents you from achieving the abdominal workout you desire, but also lessens your overall calorie burn. For the most benefit, monitor your posture and make sure your back remains straight while you exercise.
Tiffany Parnell is an experienced writer of health-related articles. She has worked as a copywriter in the health-care, information-technology and finance industries. Parnell holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a minor in biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.