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Easy ways to get more out of the elliptical
by Jessica |  Jun 17, 2014

There are a lot of reasons why the elliptical is a fitness fave of ours. The machine offers a great total-body cardio workout, and it's a lot easier on the joints than pounding the track on a treadmill. However, your sweat session on it is only as good as the effort you put in, and it's common for people to use the elliptical in an ineffective way. Seeing results - whether you're hoping to shed a few pounds, tone your legs or ramp up your endurance - depends on a few smart strategies.

If you're hoping to get the most out of your workout, try one of these tried-and-true calorie-torching tactics.

Perfect your posture
Remember when your mom told you to stand up straight? It's advice to keep in mind when you step on the elliptical. Jennifer Cassetty, an exercise physiologist, explained to Fitbie that when you're slouching, you aren't fully engaging the muscles in your upper body and core. So resist the temptation to lean forward on those handles - and if your machine has movable ones, use them to activate your arms.

Ramp up the resistance
So you want to build strength? Fitness Blender stressed that it's important to challenge your muscles by increasing the resistance. For extra fat-blasting credit, wear the zaggora hot top, which is constructed of high-tech fabric that wicks sweat away while fueling your calorie burning.

Switch directions
If you only pedal forward, you're probably going to get pretty bored - as will your muscles. That's why Fitbie suggested moving backward as well, which will work your hamstrings and your glutes. The source advised leaning back slightly when you're striding backward and making sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle.

Up your SPM
With so many stats to consider on an elliptical, it's sometimes difficult to determine which numbers you should be looking at. FitSugar recommended keeping an eye on the strides per minute, which lets you know how many times your legs cycle around in a span of 60 seconds. A good range to keep this figure in is between 140 and 160, but if you're doing interval sprints, aim for higher than 160.

Aim for intervals
If you're hoping to max out your calorie burn, there's hardly a better tactic than interval training. Fitness Blender explained that even incorporating short bursts of higher intensity cardio can temporarily accelerate your metabolism. Start out by alternating 2 minutes at a moderate intensity with 1 minute at 100 percent effort. As an added bonus, you'll also gradually build up your endurance.

Focus on your feet
If your feet start to tingle, you're probably committing a major elliptical error: putting your weight in your toes. Fitbie noted that it's best to sit back on your heels instead. Doing so will not only eliminate the chance of that numbing sensation, but it will also engage large muscle groups and target your backside better.

Let go
Sure, the handles are there for stability, but you can get a lot more out of your workout if you go hands-free. Self magazine pointed out that doing so engages your core muscles because you have to work harder to stay balanced. If you find you're swaying a lot, put your hands on your hips to keep your posture in check.

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