Whether they're lining your gym or gracing a special spot in your home, elliptical trainers offer a convenient way to gain the benefits of a jog without the pressure that running places on your joints and spine. You can manually set resistance and incline on the elliptical or punch in preset routines for a total-body workout. Knowing the ideal stride length to work your glutes is important so you can efficiently target this muscle group.
Targeting the Glutes
That plump derriere is responsible for filling out your favorite pair of jeans and turning a ho-hum trip to the pool into a head-turning experience. Your glutes -- meaning your gluteus maximus, medius and minimus -- consist of that large muscle group you sit on. Body-weight exercises such as squats and lunges can tone these muscles, but they can be hard on your knees. Hitting the elliptical can firm these muscles without the harsh pressure. Chris Johnson, Fitness Director at the Michigan Athletic Club, advised "Runner's World" readers to increase the incline to particularly target the glutes.
On some models, the stride length comes fixed and nonadjustable. Some computerized models, though, offer stride length adjustments at the push of a button. These are often found on the higher-end elliptical trainers. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, models' stride lengths can vary between 14 and 21 inches. Test the elliptical, making sure the unit doesn't jerk around, before using it to build up your glutes. A jerky elliptical could be a sign the stride length is too short. In order to plump up your behind, you'll need to lengthen your normal stride. For this, you'll want to use a sturdy elliptical trainer.
Selecting Your Stride Length
An August 2012 study in the scientific journal "Clinical Biomechanics" found that you work your glutes more on an elliptical than when walking. The study, performed by Canadian researchers with Dalhousie University, measured two stride lengths -- 46 and 66 cm (18 and 26 inches) -- in 40 male participants. Female stride lengths are generall shorter, and how you set your length should depend on what feels comfortable -- then increase it slightly to work your glutes. This places added work on that muscle group, developing a round, firm backside while you burn excess calories.
Your stride length on the elliptical should feel comfortable but still challenging. Keep the handrails at a comfortable level, and resist the urge to hunch forward. Rounding your back can cause strain in your legs and lower back. Don't push your glutes past their burning point. Once you feel muscle fatigue set in, taper off your speed and finish your workout. Consider adding incline, as Johnson recommends, and varying your routine with an interval workout.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using an Elliptical Trainer or Stair Climber
- Muscle and Strength; James Stoppani
- Runner's World: Warmups: Ask the Experts
- Clinical Biomechanics: How Do Elliptical Machines Differ From Walking?: A Study of Torso Motion and Muscle Activity
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.