Elliptical trainer machines work the heart, lungs and several key muscle groups.
Elliptical machines aerobically engage your body in a solid cardio exercise workout. An elliptical workout also provides resistance that strengthens key muscle groups so the arms and legs get a fine-tuning as well. This two-pronged effect on your body will, with regular elliptical use, reward you with a host of health benefits, both short- and long-term. Burning calories and boosting heart function is just the start.
Hard Work That's Easy on the Joints
An elliptical trainer machine gives you a cardio workout that is easy on your joints. The level of intensity can be selected by the user; selecting a lower resistance allows you to move your body at a greater speed, increasing the level of exercise. To use an elliptical, step on the pedal platforms and select your program from the central control unit. Grasp each lever with an overhead grip and pedal forward, moving the arm levers back and forth.
Strengthening Your Heart and Fighting Disease
A elliptical machine works your body aerobically, offering a moderately-intense cardio workout. This means that your heart and lungs will automatically benefit by becoming stronger as your body takes in more oxygen, and blood is pumped to where it's needed. This inner boost to your heart and lungs will result in a reduced risk of developing heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer, such as breast and colon cancer. Blood pressure can be lowered, insulin sensitivity can be improved, and body weight can be kept at healthy levels thanks to calorie burning and an improved metabolic rate. Elliptical use can also contribute to the development of strong bones, increased muscle strength and endurance, and improved cognitive function, according to the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise."
Building Stronger Muscles
An elliptical works the body in a way that engages several key muscle groups, thanks to the resistance offered by the machine. When you move your arms and upper body as you work the levers, the major muscles in your chest will be worked, as will the bicep and triceps in your arms. Moving your shoulder works the muscles in your lower back and sides, and the muscles in your upper back and neck. Moving your spine engages the obliques in your sides, and the erector spinae muscles which support and protect you spine, running all the way from your neck to your tail bone. Working these latter muscles will give you a solid core and improved balance. Also worked are your glutes and several major muscles in your legs, which improves the tone and shape of your hips and thighs. Pedal an elliptical backward to place greater emphasis on the rectus femoris muscle in the quads.
Frequency and Variations
Use an elliptical two or three times per week, with a day off between workouts to allow your body to rest and recover. Go for a 20 to 30 minute session, adding or dropping ten minutes, depending on your level of fitness. For variation, you can use an elliptical glider, which will work your hamstrings and thighs, butt, hips, sides and back, or a recumbent elliptical cross trainer, which is a seated version of elliptical cross trainer.
Warnings and Weight Loss
Seek the guidance of a qualified instructor for tips on proper form and safety when learning to use the machine. If you're using an elliptical to lose weight, remember that you need to burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis. With this in mind, make sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet, and cut out foods high in fats, including salty snacks or high-sugar treats and drinks.