Adjusting the magnet on an elliptical trainer is the same action as changing the resistance level. Elliptical trainers use a magnetic bracket that works with the flywheel to determine the resistance level while the wheel is spinning. The stronger the magnetic field, or the closer the magnet is to the flywheel, the more challenging it is to move the foot pedals. The display monitor provides the means for regulating the resistance level on most elliptical trainers, though some older or inexpensive models may require a manual adjustment.
Motorized Elliptical Trainer
Start the elliptical trainer. Depending on the model, the trainer will have either an "On/Off" button or switch, or it will turn on automatically when you begin to pedal.
Pick the program you will use for your workout. Most elliptical trainers allow you to choose either manual or you can select from a variety of preset programs.
Choose your resistance level for the particular program. Every elliptical machine is slightly different, but most contain resistance controls on the display monitor, marked by "Up" and "Down" arrows. Push the "Up" arrow to increase the resistance and the "Down" arrow to make the workout easier.
Change the resistance levels at any time during your workout. For example, you may want to warm up with the resistance set at one or two, on a scale of one to 10. As you progress, you will likely increase the resistance to a point that is challenging for your fitness level, and then lower the resistance again during the cool-down period.
Manual Elliptical Trainer
Read the owner’s manual for your particular elliptical trainer. Every trainer may work in a slightly different manner. Follow the directions that are specific to your machine.
Find the lever on your elliptical trainer that is used to adjust the resistance level. The location will vary depending on make and model. Common places for the lever to be are on the base under the control panel or on the sides of the machine.
Move the lever to the level of resistance that you desire.
Start your workout. Determine if the resistance level is right; if it is too hard or easy, adjust the level accordingly. Many manual elliptical machines require that you complete stop pedaling before changing the resistance level. Test it again; continue until you have found the targeted resistance rate.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.