Keep your back straight and your abdominals engaged.
If you're using an elliptical trainer because you're concerned about your waistline, you're on the right track. However, the real benefit in using the trainer might be in losing fat, not in building muscle. Your abdominal muscles do receive a workout on an elliptical trainer, but they are not the main point of the exercise.
Although your ab muscles help stabilize your body while using an elliptical, this exercise focuses more on burning calories than building muscle.
Bust The Myth of Spot Reduction
You already have abdominal muscle, but you might not be able to see it when it's covered by layers of fat. When it comes slimming the abdomen, focus more on exercise that burns overall body fat, instead of exercises like sit-ups or crunches. Since the elliptical trainer will help you burn the calories that can lead to fat loss, it's certainly a machine you can use to work on your stomach.
Calculate the Average
The number of calories you'll burn on the elliptical depends on the time you put in, the intensity at which you work, and also your weight. On average though, a 155-pound person will burn 335 calories using the elliptical for 30 minutes; a 185-pound person will burn about 400 calories during that same amount of time, according to Harvard Medical School. That is a significant number of calories to burn in a short amount of time - about the same as you'd burn running at a 5-mile-per-hour pace, and more than you'd burn cycling or doing low-impact aerobics.
ID the Muscles
The elliptical trainer is primarily a cardiovascular exercise, but it will also help you strengthen your muscles. The main muscles you'll use are in the lower body, including the quadriceps, gluteal muscles, hip flexors and hamstrings. Your arms get in on the action too, since most ellipticals include arm levers. You'll also use the muscles of the core - which include the muscles of your abdominal area - to stabilize your body throughout the movement. Alternatively, let go of the arm levers and balance, which will also challenge your core.
Add An Ab-Specific Workout
While you will activate your abdominals during an elliptical workout, consider adding more activities to your workout routine that focus more specifically on building abdominal muscle. Consider doing planks, crunches on an exercise ball, the captain's chair exercise or bicycle crunches. Those include some of the most effective exercises for strengthening the abdominals, according to the American Council on Exercise.