How long on elliptical to see results? Max up the effects of your elliptical machine training

Wondering if it’s worth it to build your weight loss routine around elliptical training? The simple answer is yes, absolutely.

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By far the best way to imitate running without over-stressing your joints, the elliptical training will boost your strength and endurance, and definitely will make you slimmer. It is excellent for burning calories and, therefore, losing weight.

Options

The basic models don’t do much besides leg training and aren’t too popular, yet they are cheap and relatively compact. But more advanced elliptical trainers have options that can be game-changers for your workout habits.

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Cross-trainers are pretty much a must, as their handles move in sync with the pedals to train the upper body. Options like rear and front drive machines give you the choice of a standard walking pattern and mimicking stair climbing.

Some health issues might be better suited for a recumbent elliptical, used in a sitting position. This way you can reduce the already low leg joint involvement.

If, on the opposite, you need a heavier approach to your legs, try a glider elliptical machine.

How many calories can you burn with an elliptical workout?

On average, a person burns 300 calories in a 30-minute workout, which constitutes 4500 calories a month training 5 times a week. This must be enough to begin your weight loss slowly and steadily, losing 2-3 lbs a month for starters.

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Many factors change caloric burn from case to case. People who start with bigger body weight see the fat melting faster, and people with bigger muscle mass burn more than those with a larger fat percentage. Gender and intensity can also make a difference.

Tips to burn calories faster on the elliptical

Explore the resistance settings. Depending on the machine, you can try to increase the resistance level and/or the incline settings. Keep it a bit challenging – this will make you burn more in the same amount of time.

Vary your motion. Another way to burn fat faster is to improvise: try to switch between normal and reverse motion, as it targets different muscles, and change your pace every now and then.

Keep your heart rate up. To make sure your workout is effective, keep an eye on your heart bpm rate. It needs to be up, but don’t overdo it – 220 minus your age is the highest you can go at all times.

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Switch between handles and no handles. The leg muscles burn more calories as they are simply bigger, and adding handle motion redirects part of your body weight away from them. So, to level up the game, keep your hands away from the handles part of the time.

Target muscles and effects elliptical use

The great thing about elliptical machines is that they allow a complete and balanced full-body workout, which affects all major muscle groups, and improves your cardiovascular health, balance, and posture.

Lower body

The main muscles targeted by the elliptical machine are your legs: the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Those are the strongest and biggest body muscles, which burn more calories than any other muscle group.

The workout will affect your calves too, completing a well-rounded lower-body training session.

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So focused on lower-body muscle groups, the elliptical is not a kind of fitness equipment to bulk you up in the most targeted areas. You are going to end up with a lean, strong, and enduring body.

Upper body

The moving handles of the elliptical machine, if present, synchronize your arm and leg movement, helping to achieve a great effect on your upper body. Using elliptical handles can be your only upper-body exercise, efficient enough in targeting all of its muscles.

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Pulling motion activates your back and biceps, and pushing needs the triceps to do the work. Together, this continuous muscle exertion reflects in the strengthening of your back, chest, and shoulders, and fixes weak posture.

Core

With every step on the elliptical, you need to contract your abs to keep balance. This increases your core strength over time and also is good for your balance, which is one of the first bonuses most beginners notice.

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To max up your core muscle use, reduce the time you rely on the handles, so you’ll need to keep balance with your core muscles only. This way more core work and better results will take place.

Cardio

An elliptical trainer is a great option for cardiovascular exercise.

The machine is specifically designed to imitate running with some additional perks, like pedal and handle support, control over the process, and safety.

It is a fantastic aerobic exercise to do for an extended time without risking to injure oneself.

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Like any other cardio exercise, it makes your lungs work harder to get oxygen, while your heart has to pump blood faster. Kept the pulse in an optimal range during the sessions, this will increase your endurance over time. In a way, your cardiovascular system is a muscle group that can be trained.

The heart is a muscle that always works, and blood vessels are lined with muscle tissue. This “muscle group” is responsible for our endurance and life, and it’s perfectly targeted by the elliptical machine.

Elliptical machine is a low-impact trainer

For those who seek a weight loss workout routine that will work fine but not compromise your health, the elliptical exercise might be the one. It is considered a low-impact exercise, meaning it goes easy on your knee joints and ankles.

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Is not likely to cause problems if you’ve been injured before, or be in the way of any other health conditions. If the problems are not compatible with a classic elliptical, you can give a chance to a recumbent model. But still, consult your doctor in case of any doubts.

Weight loss elliptical workouts

To lose fat at a good pace, you probably need to aim at 400-500 calories burned in a workout session. However, this goal might be too demanding for those with health conditions or obesity. As a more gentle approach, 300 calories might be enough of a goal.

30-minute elliptical machine session

Regardless of your goals and input data, 30 minutes of moderate exercise is a good starting point for weight loss elliptical machine workouts. Depending on your weight and the effort put forth, you’ll burn 250-350 calories in one session, which might be all you need to start losing pounds.

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And if your endurance is not yet in place for more impactful training, you’ll be able to move on past that before you know it, as this builds stamina for long-term gym devotion.

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60-minute endurance session

If you opt for a one-hour elliptical workout, you will be able to burn up to 600 calories per session depending on the intensity. Some extreme conditions can lead to even higher results – but this would be far beyond average, thus unfair to expect.

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Let’s say, the caloric burn multiplies with doubling the time. But we tend to work less intensively during longer sessions, which is normal. A 60-minute workout is quite long and should focus on endurance rather than intensity, but this way we are less likely to double the effect of a shorter but more intense workout.

But in the long run, low-intensity endurance sessions might pay off better, as they open the window of possibilities with your newly found cardio stamina.

High-intensity interval training on an elliptical (HIIT)

Though HIIT is often associated with high-impact training and viewed as something only experienced gym rats are likely to go for, using an elliptical makes this advanced way to exercise much more accessible.

HIIT training implies short (10-60 sec.) periods of vigorous exercise followed by the same or shorter time of active rest.

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The goal of the fast periods is to race up your heart reaching as much as 90% of your bpm limit. The slow periods must let you rest just enough to keep going.

This way you burn more calories and lose fat faster than using an elliptical for steady-pace workouts.

Plus, there is such thing as calorie afterburn, which is on the rise when you consume more oxygen than usual during a workout – and this is exactly what happens. So, high-intensity interval training will contribute to your weight loss through metabolism even between the sessions.

How often to train for significant weight loss?

If you are very new to aerobic exercise, you might want to start with a 10-minute elliptical workout three times a week, ultimately aiming at 30-minute sessions five times a week – the bare minimum for those who expect to lose fat (though even shorter workouts must prevent weight gain as well).

The schedule for longer sessions can be the same if you feel good, but remember to have rest days, as your body will need to make that fatigue go away.

How often is optimal for HIIT sessions?

HIIT might be a vicious way to burn calories, but it might as well burn you out if you overdo such kind of thing. Better if you start incorporating intervals in your daily elliptical workouts in such a way, that you end up with two 30-45 minute long interval training routines a week.

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Smaller 20-minute sessions are also an option, but with 80-90 minutes weekly total. Leave the rest of the time for steady-state cardio with a lower pulse rate.

What does slimming down on an elliptical look like

When people set their fitness goals, often it goes like, “I want to reduce belly fat but keep my buttocks” or “I want to shrink down my thighs”.

But you cannot order your body where to lose weight. Your genetics, current weight, hormones, etc. will decide it for you. And if belly fat is really a problem, be ready it might go away last.

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Safe to say, you’ll finally lose that belly fat at some point, just accept your reality and help the process with patience, consistency, and a proper diet.

Healthy diet and body weight

Starting a fitness routine is already a stress for your body. While the goal of fat loss suggests having fewer calories, you can’t let go of the important nutrients.

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If you plan to cut your calorie intake (often you can get by without it, though), keep a healthy ratio of carbs, fats, and protein, and be sure to get enough vitamins and fiber.

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45–65% of carbs, 25–35% of fats, and 10–30% of protein is what the Dietary Guideline for Americans says is healthy, and so do we – with a slight inclination for protein-rich foods.

A healthy diet means your body composition will transform smoothly, replacing fat with muscle mass. With the increase in muscle percentage, you’ll burn fat faster. But a balanced diet is needed to get there safely in the first place – not starving.

How long on elliptical to see results: realistic timespan

Using the elliptical is fairly rewarding in terms of progress. In the first weeks of regular workouts, you’ll begin to notice posture and balance improvements. You might even admit to moving more gracefully.

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After a month, the slimming will already be there – on your scales and in a mirror. Here it depends: the fatter you were before, the more obvious you’ll find the change.

In 6-8 weeks of persistent training, the change will be visible to others. And from then on, the time on the workout machine will be more and more rewarding. Specific muscles are going to become defined, building your new lean shape.

FAQs

How many calories can I burn on an elliptical?

You can burn from 250-350 calories in 30 minutes to 500-600 calories in a heated workout session that lasts about an hour. The more intensively you work out, the more calories you burn. The most efficient of the elliptical trainer sessions is HIIT, but steady-state cardio will give you enough fat loss, too.

How long should I go on the elliptical to lose weight?

You’ll start losing weight if you are consistent with at least 30 minutes per session on an elliptical trainer, but making your workouts longer (45-60 minutes recommended) will speed up your progress. Also, the more excess weight you have, the sooner you’ll see the difference.

Is 30 minutes of elliptical a day enough?

Yes, it is enough to start the process with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. This ensures the beginning of healthy weight loss within a month and builds up to higher fitness goals achievable later.

Can I lose weight by just doing the elliptical?

Absolutely. Elliptical workouts are self-sufficient by design, having all of your body involved with an emphasis on leg muscles. If all you want to do or have access to is an elliptical trainer, you are on the right path – ellipticals burn calories just as well as any other cardio machine.

How many days a week should I do the elliptical?

As soon as you get stronger, 5 days a week will be optimal for your elliptical routine. Take days off regularly, as a fatigued body won’t benefit from the exercise the best way possible.

If you choose a HIIT elliptical workout, do it 2-3 days a week with 90 minutes a week maximum in consideration. Interval training tends to hold its effects on the body for some time after the session, which can overwhelm your heart.

Conclusion

As you can see, the elliptical routine is a great tool for endurance and strength training that ensures getting slim in harmony with your health. You’ll be able to benefit from it long-term while enjoying the results early in the process.

You can surely rely on using the elliptical as a primary (or only) workout. It is versatile in effects and stands strong against any other exercise or physical activity.

Author of article
Steven Hopkins
Welcome to my website, or even a blog. For the past 12 years, I have regularly visited the gym, spending at least 2 hours a day there. I love protein shakes, quality athletic shoes, and I know a lot about exercise equipment. This is my hobby. Every day I run kilometers on the treadmill, do dozens of push-UPS, and hundreds of pull-UPS on the uneven bars. Sport is my life...  
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