The cardio area in any given gym can vary greatly depending on where you choose to work out. But, in most cases, you are going to see a few staple machines: an indoor cycling bike, a treadmill, a rower, and an elliptical. Out of these, the elliptical can be a little intimidating to approach. We want to change that. Let us take some time to explain how you can use the elliptical for cardiovascular exercise the next time you visit the gym.
Elliptical training might not come to mind as your top pick when charting out your cardio exercise routine, but adding it to the list is a great idea. This low-impact machine allows your legs to mimic the motion of running or speed walking but brings your hip flexors up a little further on the elliptical vs. treadmill. This larger movement is excellent for stretching out the hip flexors, which tend to get tight during other cardio workouts. A Precor study found that the oxygen usage was almost identical in running and elliptical workouts, but with the low-impact nature of the elliptical, it was much less harmful to the joints overall making it a safe choice for your cardio routine.
There are several benefits to using the elliptical machine for cardio, like how the elliptical machine is perfect for when you are not quite sure of which exercise to do. With all of its features, you can guide yourself through a heart-pumping cardio workout on your own, or let the machine guide you with one of its built-in low-impact exercises. Simply choose a cardio program, the amount of time you want to work out, and the elliptical will automatically change the resistance based on the workout you choose. This feature is perfect if you are new to the gym, or just don’t want to have to think about your cardio exercise for the day. Pick a setting that aligns with your needs, and go, go, go!
Elliptical cardio training enhances your aerobic workouts by giving you the ability to include your full body into the exercise. Most ellipticals include handlebars that move with the foot pads. If you are on this type of elliptical, be sure to use that to your advantage. Engage different muscle groups including your arm muscles and push and pull on those handlebars (Read that again, folks. Don’t just put those hands on the handlebars, push and pull them!) to create a full-body, challenging workout that will not only tone your glutes and legs but help to strengthen your core and arms as well. Of course, there is the option to hold onto the static side rail or handlebars in the center of this machine as well (depending on the type of elliptical you are using), but by doing so, you are taking away that full-body effect. So, try to get comfortable with the machine, and when you are up to it, introduce your arms into the mix to get a better cardio workout!
Yes, you can technically go backward on a treadmill—but we don’t recommend it. Most ellipticals, however, allow you to go backward safely, which can help tone your calves and quads. This is contrary to the forward motion that most of us perform when we are on the elliptical, which works your glutes and hamstrings. Take advantage of this as an addition to your cardio routine. Going backward can also make your workout more fun, and once you start seeing the definition in the front of your legs, you will want to make it a consistent part of your routine. Just be careful, and hold onto those handlebars to keep your balance.
An elliptical can burn 170-320 calories in a half hour depending on your effort. Elliptical exercises are great for a low-impact cardio workout. You may even be able to go longer than you expected because of how easy it is on your body. So, the calorie burn overall is pretty tough to beat on cardio equipment.
All of these benefits make the elliptical an excellent choice for your recommended amount of aerobic exercise, but to take full advantage of the machine, you should make sure that you are working hard enough to reap the benefits. For your warm up, if you were to try to talk, you should be able to do it with some level of ease. While you are in the thick of your workout, that conversation should be a lot harder. If you can still carry on a conversation without skipping a beat, it is time to up the ante. Set your elliptical to a higher level and push yourself to help strengthen your heart even more. Make sure to breathe in and out through the exercise and try and ignore that nay-sayer in your head. You’ve got this!
All of our Chuze Fitness locations have elliptical machines in the cardio section, so come in and give it a try. Cardio is important for a well-rounded fitness routine. If you need help getting started, don’t be afraid to ask for help to achieve your fitness goals. One of our team members would be happy to show you how to use the machine properly. We can’t wait to see you at the club nearest you!