5 Easy Steps To Getting Your Best Elliptical Workout
Despite new models of exercise equipment coming and going each year, the benefits of elliptical machines make this piece of home fitness equipment continuously popular. Elliptical machine benefits include an intense cardiovascular workout without impact on the joints and tendons of the body, making it a great cross training option for runners, as well as an effective way to build fitness and support a weight loss program for nearly every level of exerciser.
Additionally, elliptical machines engage the muscles of the upper body and core to complement the calorie blasting effects of using the big muscles of the lower body. Another unique benefit of the elliptical machine includes its ability to target the muscles of the posterior chain by completing a reverse motion in training. This action counterbalances the demands that running places on the anterior muscles of the body, improving running form over time.
So what’s the best way to get a great workout on the elliptical machine? Here are a few tips.
Tip #1: Start with Great Form
Even experienced athletes sometimes struggle with maintaining an upright position. Beginning your elliptical session with a bit of core work, such as bridge pose, plank, and hollow hold will activate the deep stabilizers of the core. Engaging these muscles feels much like the contraction you experience in your belly right before you sneeze or cough. During your training on the elliptical, work to keep the core engaged, while working with an upright posture, open chest, and engaged shoulders. Your hands should remain light on the handles to further activate the muscles of the core and to work more strongly out of the hips.
Tip #2: Use the Reverse Setting
Including reverse movement in your workouts is one of the major benefits of the elliptical machine. This movement counters the collapse in our posture that occurs as a result of forward movement. When you start using the machine, include periods of reverse training whenever you feel that you are starting to lose good form. In addition to resetting your form and assisting you in reengaging your core and developing an upright posture, training in reverse will develop the harder to reach muscles of the posterior chain and provide a proprioceptive challenge that will improve your balance and strength.
Tip #3: Combine Elliptical Workouts with Strength Training
Since the elliptical machine targets so many muscles of the body (especially when both forward and reverse training are used), it’s an excellent warm-up or pre-fatigue to make your strength training more effective. Adding in strength training to the end of your elliptical work out takes advantage of the increased circulation and the activation of your major muscle groups that has already begun during your workout. Two or more times a week, finish your elliptical training session with upper and lower body exercises to further improve your strength, power, and form.
Tip #4: Include High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
One of the biggest benefits of elliptical machines is intense, no impact, cardiovascular workouts that blast through calories. If you’re using your elliptical workouts to support weight loss or serious cardiovascular fitness, make sure you’re including intense interval sessions such as those provided by the Sprint 8 technology available on some models of Vision Fitness Elliptical Machines. Interval training maximizes the time spent in your workout by taking you into an anaerobic training zone. This results in an efficient workout in less time and leaves your metabolism in high gear.
Tip #5: Combine with Yoga on Your Active Recovery Days
Runners and athletes can especially benefit from using the elliptical machine as a form of active recovery. Combining a brief, moderate intensity elliptical session with a preventative yoga session is a great way to work the kinks from training out and improve mental preparation for your next training session.
Elliptical machines offer effective training options for all levels of athletes and can be used by experienced athletes to improve their form, efficiency, and fitness as a complement to their chosen sport. Varying your workouts while emphasizing proper form ensures that you will continue to enjoy the many benefits of elliptical machines in your home fitness program supporting weight loss and improved fitness.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin.