How to Use an Elliptical Trainer – For Beginners Guide

Are you trying to lose some calories using an elliptical? But, do you know how to take maximum advantage of this fitness machine.

When working out on an elliptical, your feet follow an extended oval path that can be described as an ellipse. This motion is a rare mix of walking, skiing, and stair-climbing. If you are getting bored with regular walking or treadmills, then an elliptical is a productive alternative to try.

Using an elliptical machine is not rocket science, but it takes some time to be a master. You can gain the confidence to step up on an elliptical trainer by following the given points.

                                           At a glance, the Best Elliptical Machines:

Elliptical ModelFeaturesPrice
Bowflex Max Trainer• Workout Programs: 2
• Workout History: Up to 2
• Dimensions: 46.5 x 22.5 x 26.5 inches
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Horizon Fitness Elliptical• Workout Programs: 32
• Weight: 175 Pounds
• Dimensions: 69 x 28 x 69 inches
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NordicTrack Spacesaver• Workout Programs: 30
• Weight capacity: 325 Pounds
• Dimensions: 78.7 x 31.9 x 66.4 inches
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Sunny Health & Fitness• Resistance Levels: 8
• Weight capacity: 220 Pounds
• Dimensions: 36 x 18 x 15 inches
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How to use an elliptical?

How to use an elliptical

  • Start with warming up your body. For instance, you can walk on a treadmill for at least 10 minutes. Then, start training on an elliptical at zero intensity for the first five to ten minutes. If you are inside a gym, then the trainer can give you ideas about the machine, its controls and usage.
  • In case you are working out at home, spent some time reading instructions that came with the elliptical. All these fitness machines are built differently, hence knowing the step by step guidelines is crucial before you step up. Try an Under Desk Elliptical if you want to lose some calories while working on the computer or watching TV.
  • Get on the machine, hold its handlebars using both your hands facing its console. You should feel balanced and comfortable while standing on the elliptical.
  • Push the pedals forward and start pedaling. At the same time, you need to push and pull the handlebars while the pedal moves.
  • Select a pre-installed workout program from the list on display. Create a custom program if you don’t find a suitable setting or if you are an experienced user.
  • You can adjust the workout intensity by pushing the plus and minus signs on the elliptical console. If it’s a high-quality model, then there should be a quick control to change the intensity and incline levels.
  • Do not step off from the elliptical until and unless it’s completely stopped. If you feel faint, weak, or extra pain while working out, then it’s recommended that you stop the training session immediately and drink some water. Resume only if you are fresh and energetic.

Tips for a better workout

better workout


  • Forward pedaling is easy, mimics real-life movements, and is less impactful on your knees when compared to backward pedaling. Try backward motion only if you are well versed with the machine.
  • Stand straight on the machine without leaning forward or back. Try to maintain the balance without looking for its handles. Do not grip the handles too tight. Keep your face straight and concentrate on your movements.
  • Include some weight training if you want to build muscles and keep your bones strong. Use one of the Best compact Ellipticals for your home gym, but try to spend some time on other aerobic and weight training machines to make your workout sessions more productive.
  • Try to customize the workout as you start working out regularly. Increase the intensity by raising the resistance and incline levels.
  • Keep the motion natural and do not lock your knees. Try to be smooth as you move without jerking your joints.

Effective techniques of using an elliptical

  • Your feet should be flat on the pedals: The chances of experiencing pain increases if your body is not properly aligned while working out. Keep your feet flat on the pedals, instead of standing on your toes.
  • Mix core exercises: To build a great physique you need to involve the core exercises while training on an elliptical. For instance, you can hold a plank position after every session of elliptical training. You can pedal for 3 or 4 minutes, get off the equipment, and perform a plank for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Vary the incline levels to define your butt: Training on high incline levels means you are working on the glutes or butts. Working out with high inclines boosts calorie loss and strengthens your lower body, especially the glutes. So, you should start enjoying the intense training sessions.
  • Change the incline every one or two minutes: You can either increase the levels or decrease them. The incline levels vary between 1 to 20. So, you should increase the level two steps each time. For instance, if you were working at level 4 last time, then try and reach for level 6 next. Start with no levels, then move up to 2, then 4, 6, and so on. Similarly, come back to level zero by decreasing the inclines for two steps. You might not be able to work out at high levels initially. But, keep practicing and you will be an expert within a few weeks.
  • Try backward pedaling: You can try backward pedaling because it makes more impact on your hamstrings. So, training on an elliptical is better when you rotate the pedaling motions. We recommend that you slow down a bit and reverse the motion. You might feel surprised about the changes initially, but following it regularly for weeks can strengthen your lower body parts.
  • Utilize the pause button: You can use the pause button for 60 seconds and enjoy some upper body workout. For instance, you can train on the elliptical for one or two minutes, get off the machine to perform up to 20 pushups. Then go back to the elliptical, spent some time, and engage in some exercises that can work on your back as well.
  • Know-how and when to use the handles: Emphasize on your legs when you want to train your lower body. If you will work out on an elliptical without using the hands, then the movements will put extra pressure on the legs. Training on the elliptical trainer without hands means that you are strengthening your core muscles as well


Spent some time on an elliptical machine and you will know how to emphasize different parts of your body. It’s easy to use such a fitness machine when you know when to pull or push the handlebars. Start by training your legs and then use the handles to strengthen the upper body parts.


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  • Updated March 21, 2023
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