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Gym Time: Elliptical Tips

Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, but it is also super versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core. Here a some tips to get the most out of this machine for your next elliptical workout.

  • If your focus is cardio: Focus on your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around, a stat the elliptical tracks for you. Try to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you're doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your "sprints" are closer to 160.
  • If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and booty more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs.
  • If you're short on time: Use your arms and legs equally. To get more bang for your cardio buck, make sure to work your arms as well as your legs. This will help get your heart rate into an intense zone and tone your upper body too.
  • To work your core: Go hands free. Letting go of the handles on the elliptical will challenge your sense of balance and work your core. Make sure to not sway from side to side once you let go of the handles. Place your hands on your hips to monitor your posture.
  • To add strength training to your cardio: Try squats. When moving backward on the elliptical, you can hold a squat position. Don't go into a full squat, but only go about three quarters of the way down. Start by holding the position for 20 seconds and work your way up to holding the partial squat for a full minute.

If these tips inspire you to jump on an elliptical and get moving, check out all of our elliptical cardio workouts.

Image Source: Corbis Images
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La-Tua-Cantante La-Tua-Cantante 7 years
you definitely notice the difference when you go hands-free!
rivrchild rivrchild 7 years
I'll do 140-160 for 15-20 sec in between though. I try to up the resistance and incline as much as I can. But when either the resistance and/or incline are below 6-7 I try to push my 10 sec intervals to 180 SPM
rivrchild rivrchild 7 years
I feel like I'm not really getting a workout if I only keep my SPM between 140-160 - I usually do 10-15 sec intervals between 170-180 every 30 seconds. Is that bad??
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 7 years
All of these are great tips that I pretty much use already. :) To get the back of the legs I peddle backwards... it works really well just make sure you hold onto the handles.
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 7 years
All of these are great tips that I pretty much use already. :)To get the back of the legs I peddle backwards... it works really well just make sure you hold onto the handles.
angelina8023 angelina8023 7 years
Awesome tips!
angelina8023 angelina8023 7 years
Awesome tips!
sucraRush sucraRush 7 years
These tips are great!
sucraRush sucraRush 7 years
These tips are great!
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
Just did my elliptical work out this morning. Unforch, the precor ellipticals that my gym has, do not have the moving handles. I went about half on, and half off with the handles, usually I'm hands free, and try to push with my arms as though there were handles. Love that machine, I wish I could afford one for my house
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
I go hands free and I notice a difference. I am a little nervous to attempt a squat while going backwards...ouch!
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