This Is the Workout You Need If You’re New to the Gym

“If you are getting serious in cutting down those calories, then an elliptical machine is a must have or perhaps a must try. It will surely help increase your heart rate without the dangers of juddering impact that sometimes accompanies in running.”


Cardio 101: How To Use The Elliptical For Fat Loss



The elliptical might be the most used – and most misused – piece of equipment at your gym.

After all, every day countless people like you hop on the machines and hammer away. Your goal may be to get your heart rate high, work up a sweat, and keep off excess pounds. But if all you’re doing on the elliptical is logging a steady 20- or 30-minute workout, you’re missing out on the machine’s potential.

“The elliptical is a powerhouse among cardio equipment because it allows you to use a large amount of muscle,” says Evan Johnson, a certified personal trainer in Storrs, Connecticut. The machine builds strength and muscle endurance in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, but also works your arms, chest, and back when you actively use the handles. “The more muscles that are working, the more calories you’ll be burning,” says Johnson.

If you do the same workout over and over, the body becomes efficient at it. Over time, you’ll burn fewer calories and maintain, rather than improve, your cardiovascular fitness. By mixing up your routine, you’ll burn more calories and gain fitness faster. So to maximize your time on the machine, Johnson designed four workouts that use the elliptical’s multiple settings to target your whole body. Incorporate at least one workout into your weekly routine, or if you use the elliptical multiple times during the week, try a couple or more.

Form Matters

First, there are a few things you should keep in mind during every elliptical workout. You’ll reap more benefits from your exercise sessions if you maintain proper form: A tall posture, with your head over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips. To work the upper body, you must actively push and pull on the handles, not just hold on, says Johnson. But avoid grabbing the handlebars too tightly; doing so can fatigue the forearms and shoulders and tempt you to lean on the machine—a common mistake. Leaning can reduce the strengthening and fat-burning effects. Plus, over time, it can strain the shoulders and back.

As you exercise, watch your speed. Increasing your RPMs (revolutions per minute; some machines may use SPM, or strides per minute,) ups the intensity, but too much speed can get you into trouble. “Going too fast on the elliptical causes you use too much momentum, so your muscles are not fully engaged,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at the University of Montgomery, Alabama and faculty at the American College of Sports Medicine. In other words, excess speed, like leaning, cheats your legs out of some strengthening benefits and reduces the number of calories you burn. If you’re bouncing, or your feet are coming off the pedals, slow down.

The Workouts

Johnson’s elliptical workouts employ effort levels that follow a 10-point rate of perceived exertion scale (1 is very low intensity, 10 is all out effort). During the warm up, cool down, and rest intervals of each, let go of the handles. This gives your arms and upper body a rest, but also engages the core and challenges your balance.

High-Intensity Short Intervals (30 minutes)

Settings: Select the machine’s short interval program. If there isn’t one, use manual mode and control the resistance yourself. Set the incline (or ramp) at low to moderate; it won’t change for this workout. Instead, you’ll adjust the resistance to change the intensity.

• After 3 min warm-up, follow the machine’s interval program (usually 30 seconds to 2 minutes). If you’re in manual mode, increase the resistance to an effort that …



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