How to Breathe on an Elliptical

Breathing on the elliptical is all about rhythm.
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The elliptical has a lot to offer -- this breezy, bike-like workout machine encourages low-impact, knee-friendly cardio, usually at a pace similar to a brisk jog. Because the elliptical, unlike its cousin the treadmill, doesn't cater to all-out runs, breathing during this exercise comes pretty easily. You won't have to take another gym class to perfect your elliptical breathing technique, you just need to keep a few simple tips in mind when you're on the trainer.

    Step 1

    Fix your posture. Push those shoulders back and keep your head up and eyes straight ahead. Tighten your abs and don't lean on the machine's handles. Good posture makes for an effective workout and helps facilitate proper breathing.

    Step 2

    Breathe deeply and steadily during your warm up. For about the first five minutes of your time on the elliptical, exercise at about half-pace to prep your body and loosen your limbs. During this time, focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply through the diaphragm.

    Step 3

    Establish a breathing rhythm that matches the pace of your exercise. Inhale and exhale in a steady pattern. Exhale on one stride and inhale on the next, or inhale and exhale every two strides, depending on your pace. Speaking to Oxygen magazine, running coach Greg McMillan calls the latter the “2:2 method.” In general, your stride length should be about 8 to 10 inches.

    Step 4

    Change your rhythm depending on the intensity of the workout -- your breathing rhythm should get faster if you increase your pace. For instance, transition from a 2:2 breathing pattern to a 1:1 breathing pattern to match your speed. Make your breathing more shallow if you need to, but avoid panting, gasping or irregular breathing, all of which are signs that you need to slow it down.

    Step 5

    End your workout with a half-pace cool down, just as you did your warm up. This helps return your breathing pattern and your body to their normal operating states. Like the warm up, breathe deeply, slowly and consistently during your cool down.


    • If you want greater intensity but you have trouble maintaining breath rhythm at high speeds, try increasing the elliptical's resistance. This way, you'll burn more calories while maintaining a steady rhythm.


    • Focus on long, steady exhalation if you find yourself short of breath. Despite your instinct to inhale, you need to get rid of excess CO2 to keep the energy flowing.

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