A sweat-inducing cardio workout generally has two goals. Either you're training to increase your endurance or, more likely, you're trying to lose weight. While elliptical machines can provide a powerful and effective workout by adding resistance to both your upper and lower body, this has stirred up some fear among exercisers. It would be a terrible shame if, while training to lose weight, you accidentally bulked up. Fortunately, though, using an elliptical machine will not add bulk and could be a powerful tool for your weight-loss goals.
Benefits of Elliptical Training
Ellipticals are designed, and marketed, as cardiovascular exercise machines. Working out with an elliptical will elevate your heart rate quickly, challenging your heart and lungs to keep your entire body fueled and working properly. Ultimately, this will increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs so that they can always perform this work better. The added challenge of incorporating both upper- and lower-body muscles also means that your body is going to burn more calories than an exercise like running, which only uses the muscle of your legs. These burned calories will eventually lead to weight loss.
How Muscles Bulk
Muscle growth, clinically called hypertrophy, is a long and difficult process. To achieve their signature bulk, bodybuilders and athletes follow a specifically designed program of diet and weight training that spans over the course of years. These programs focus on lifting progressively heavier weights to force the muscle fibers to adapt by growing bigger and stronger.
What You Might See
Although elliptical trainer doesn't provide the sort of training necessary to encourage muscle growth, you will likely see some changes in the appearance of your body. This is especially true when you first start working out, since your nervous system is going to make some rapid changes trying to keep up with this new challenge. As you lose weight, you may see more muscle definition, especially for a day or two after you workout. These changes will probably be most evident in your thighs.
These adaptations, both muscle growth and fat loss, are a highly individualized process. Your genes, age and gender all have a major impact on how exercise will affect your body. Any preexisting health condition will also have a bearing. Always check with your doctor before beginning any workout routine.
Jonathan Thompson is a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise and has extensive experience working with clients as well as teaching. Thompson holds specializations in longevity nutrition and muscle management for runners. He began writing in 2004.