Elliptical machines are ideal for the exercise multitasker. They let you get in your daily dose of cardio while toning muscles in your lower body, core and arms in one fell swoop. In addition, ellipticals are totally low-impact, keeping your joints happy and healthy. To get more toning out of your elliptical workout, use a few tricks for tighter abs and thighs.
Your thighs take the brunt of the action on an elliptical, moving fluidly to save your knee and ankle joints. Pushing down while pedaling forward gets the quadriceps in the front of your thighs burning, while your hamstrings help finish the loop. Pump up the resistance level to make pedaling harder -- this is what's going to tighten your thighs the fastest.
Change up the motion by pedaling backward, making your hamstrings do more pushing to keep the motion going. This gives a little bit of recovery time to your quads, too, helping you work with higher resistance or a longer duration.
An elliptical isn't a crunch machine -- it's never going to specifically target your abdominal muscles like some resistance exercises can. But that doesn't mean you're wasting time on the elliptical. Stand up straight, let go of the machine -- the stationary and moving handles -- and use your core muscles to help you maintain your balance and to stabilize your movement. This helps tighten your abdominal muscles more than when you hold on with your hands.
One of the major advantages of using an elliptical machine is burning calories. As you lose fat, those sleek muscles hidden underneath appear more toned and tight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of cardio five times a week. Keep your resistance level high enough to challenge your muscles and your tempo fast enough to keep your heart rate up -- you should be able to carry on a conversation, while still breathing harder than normal.
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