Ellipticals can benefit your abs, even though they don't target them.
You love the elliptical. It's a smooth, low-impact cardio exercise that really gets your heart rate going. Aerobic workouts are even more enjoyable when they serve multiple purposes, such as working muscle groups while simultaneously giving you a cardio workout. If you use an elliptical trainer that has moving handles, you know your arms are getting in on the action, but you might want to know if the elliptical is doing anything for your stomach.
Abs Aren't the Target
Since they are designed to work with leg movement, it's your lower body that's the focus of workouts done on elliptical trainers. All the major muscles in your legs, such as your quadricpes, hamstrings and glutes, go to work when you're on the elliptical. Your calves work, too, and get more of a workout if you pedal in reverse because the action of pushing the pedals backward require your calves to energetically contract.
Engaging Your Core
Ellipticals may not target your ab muscles, but you can still engage them if you concentrate on proper form. Stand up straight, maintaining good posture while you're working out on the elliptical. This lengthens your abdominal muscles and forces your core to stabilize and support you. In his article, "Are Elliptical Machines Better Than Treadmills for Basic Aerobic Workouts?" Dr. Edward R. Laskowski describes ideal posture while exercising on an elliptical: hold your chin up, shoulders back and abs taut. Avoid slouching, and don't lean on the handrails for support. Just lightly rest your hands on them, not your entire body.
How Ellipticals Help Flatten Abs
Even though elliptical trainers don't focus on your stomach muscles, they are still effective for flattening your abs. That's because they provide an effective cardio workout, an important aspect for losing weight. In his 2007 book, "The Abs Diet for Women" David Zinczenko lists elliptical trainers as an effective form of cardio exercise that is ideal for interval training to boost your calorie burn. The result will be less body fat in general, including less fat on your abs for a flatter tummy.
Ab-Working Cardio Exercises
Although you can concentrate on engaging your abs when you work out on the elliptical trainer, there are other cardio workouts that are better at working your abs. If you try to choose aerobic exercise based on how involved your abs are, pick an exercise such as boxing, dancing, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer or swimming.