Riding the elliptical is a great way to get an effective cardio workout in without having to worry about the weather or time of day. It’s non-impact, so it’s easy on your joints, and you can throw on some headphones and zone out while you get in your high-calorie-burning workout. Using elliptical workouts as part of your weight loss plan is a good decision, because it’s an activity that will burn a significant number of calories quickly.
The elliptical machine is the most efficient cardio machine for burning calories, according to Health Status. This is ideal, because the more calories you burn during a workout, the more progress you’re making toward your weight-loss goals. How many calories you’ll burn depends on your body weight, as well as the duration and intensity of your elliptical workout. Health Status calculates that a 150-pound woman will burn about 774 calories in a 60-minute workout, while a 200-pound woman will burn about 1,032 calories in the same amount of time.
Frequency, Duration and Intensity
The calorie numbers provided by Health Status or any other calorie calculator are estimates only. The real number of calories you’ll burn during your elliptical sessions will depend on how long and at what intensity you ride the machine. The American Council on Exercise recommends 60-minute workouts for those who are looking to burn enough calories to lose weight. To ensure you’re working out at an appropriate intensity, monitor your heart rate. Your heart rate will tell you how hard you’re working. Subtract your age from 220 and then multiply that value by both .50 and .85. Your heart rate should fall within these two values when you’re riding the elliptical.
Rate of Weight Loss
The reason that the calories burned during your elliptical workouts support weight loss efforts is that they contribute to the creation of a caloric deficit. Every time you burn 3,500 more calories than you consume from food and drink, you’ll lose about a pound of fat. This 3,500 deficit must be created over time if you’re going to sustain the loss and lose the fat in a healthy manner. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. This means you’ll need to create a 3,500 to 7,000 caloric deficit every week with your elliptical workouts. If you work out seven days a week, this equates to burning 500 to 1,000 calories every elliptical session.
Being consistent with your elliptical workouts is not enough for you to effectively lose weight. To create that caloric deficit for fat loss, you have got to increase the calories you burn by working out consistently, while simultaneously decreasing the calories that you take in by adjusting your eating habits. If you eat too many calories, you’ll cancel out the calories that you burned during your elliptical workouts. Estimate how many calories you should eat by finding your resting metabolic rate by using the equation, 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years). If you consume this many calories every day and do your elliptical workouts, you will lose weight.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.