Get a good workout that will tone your whole body on one machine with the elliptical trainer, which provides a low-impact workout that can still be challenging. Most elliptical machines have handles that move in sync with your leg work to help tone your upper body. Use an elliptical machine to do high-intensity exercises and incline workouts. Pedal backwards on an elliptical to work your hamstrings and calf muscles. Elliptical machines are also easier on your joints than many other exercise machines.
Warm-Up and Stretching
Warm up your muscles and joints before you hop on the elliptical and start pedaling your way to a toned body. Do some light cardio exercise, such as brisk walking or light jump roping, to increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing to your muscles. Warming up before you start your workout helps to reduce your risk of injury. Remember to stretch your muscles after you warm up. Stretching helps to increase your flexibility and also increases blood flow to your muscles and joints. Stretch after your workout to help remove waste products, such as lactic acid, from your muscles to reduce postworkout muscle soreness.
Beginners should ask the fitness trainer at the gym for some instruction prior to hopping on an elliptical machine. The machine isn't hard to use, but you might need some help coordinating your feet with your arm movements if you use the handles to condition your upper body. Your first few workouts on an elliptical should be slow and steady. Don't try to set a record for the fastest, hardest workout on an elliptical machine. Your muscles will punish you if you go too hard the first few times on the machine. Become familiar with the forward and backward motions and learn how to push and pull the handles to work your arms and upper back.
You can program an elliptical machine for speed, resistance and incline. Incline workouts on an elliptical machine help burn fat while toning your muscles. A low incline is similar to walking on a treadmill. Most people use an elliptical set on medium, which approximates a natural walking gait. The high setting, or vertical incline, is similar to using a stair-stepper machine. Try alternating between medium and high or cycle through all three settings for a body-toning incline circuit workout.
High-Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training on an elliptical will get your heart pumping as you firm and tone your whole body. HIIT exercise alternates between intense exercise and moderate to light exercise in cycles. Work your body on the elliptical at high intensity for one minute and then slow down for two minutes. You can increase the intensity by adjusting the resistance or use your own effort to pedal faster, then slower. Twenty to 30 minutes of HIIT on an elliptical three times each week on nonconsecutive days will tone your muscles from shoulder to ankle in just a few weeks.
- MayoClinic.com: Are Elliptical Machines Better than Treadmills for Basic Aerobic Workouts?
- Sports Medicine: Warm-Up and Stretching in the Prevention of Muscular Injury
- Self: 8 Elliptical Workouts: From Total Body to High Intensity
- Shape: How to Use an Elliptical Trainer in Your Cardio Workout Routines
- American Council on Exercise: What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and What are the Benefits?
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.