If your thighs are causing you fits, your solution could be as close as your nearest elliptical machine. Whether it’s at the gym or in your basement, this powerful piece of cardio equipment can give you a thigh-busting workout that will help strengthen the muscles and improve your cardio condition at the same time. By combining elliptical workouts with strength training and a healthy diet, you can turn those thighs -- and your entire body -- into a lean and toned work of art.
As one of the most popular machines for cardio exercise, elliptical machines offer you the ability to move your body, elevate your heart rate and torch calories without putting a lot of stress on your joints. Their smooth gliding motion gives you the ability to work your quads, hamstrings and calves, and depending on your incline, maybe even your glutes. The settings are adjustable, giving you the ability to challenge different muscle groups and alternate speeds and forward and backward movements.
If you’re looking to target your thighs on the elliptical machine, one variable you’ll want to address is the incline elevation. The higher the incline, the more work shifts from the quads to the glutes. The lower and more level you remain, the more work the quads are forced to do.
Unquestionably, your elliptical workout will be intensified by increasing the resistance level. Making the movements more challenging forces your quads and hamstrings to work harder to rotate the foot pedals. It also makes your cardio system work harder and increases your heart rate giving you even better results for your time. Be mindful, however, not to up the resistance to the point at which you experience pain or can’t maintain a steady pace or proper form.
How long you stay on the machine depends on your goal and current fitness level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity every week, which means you could aim for five 30-minute sessions or fewer workouts that last longer. For even greater results, though, the CDC recommends five hours of moderate activity every week. And, of course, the harder you work, the better results you’ll get for your thighs and cardio system.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.