The 5 Science-Backed Benefits of an Elliptical Machine

elliptical machine benefits

Cardiovascular exercises have been around for many years and it has always been one of the go-to methods for losing weight. Not only does the elliptical and other cardio equipment remain the constant, but it is something that can be used over and over again.

Whether you have a limit on daily time or you just want to lose some weight fast, the elliptical is one of the most valued pieces of exercise equipment one can use.

Many people might still think that the indoor exercise bike and the treadmill are the only equipment that you should have for cardio. While they are effective and science backs them up, the elliptical is also one o many top options that have science backing it up. It does allow you to get your heart rate in the perfect zone and burn some fat.

In this article, we will be looking at the effectiveness of the elliptical trainer and try to add as many research-based facts that could help you to see if you need it in your home. The elliptical is a functional and versatile piece of equipment that can help you burn more fat and also help you expend a lot more calories.

What is the Elliptical Trainer?

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer

Chances are that you might have come across the Stairmaster and you have seen how it works. The elliptical is much similar to the Stairmaster and it almost looks the same. However, it does not have a narrow small motion that your legs will move through to symbolize the effects of climbing up a flight of stairs.

The elliptical trainer allows you to stand in a more comfortable position, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. It offers a full 360-degree motion for your legs to symbolize the same effect one gets from running outside or on the treadmill. Additionally, the handles are added to help you propel the motion, but also offers you some stability.

Much like other trainers, the elliptical has many features linked to the console. This might vary from brand to brand, but a couple of basic features a mandatory. With every elliptical workout machine that you buy, here are a couple of features that you are almost guaranteed to get as part of the package:

Calorie Counter: The calorie counter is a rough estimate of the number of calories you are burning. Once you enter your height, age, and weight, the unit can estimate the number of calories you are burning.

Difficulty Levels: You might not always be lucky enough to have a couple of built-in workout programs, but you can use the difficulty levels to see if you are improving and create more of a challenge.

Heart-Rate Monitor: This does not refer to the heart rate monitors that we are accustomed to seeing around the chest, but rather focuses on electrical waves being sent through your hands. It is perfect to find your fat-burning zone.

Distance Meter: You will also be able to see the distance that you are running and this can help you see your progress. One thing we always recommend is to try and increase the distance you are running to progressively overload your muscles.

Check Out: 5 Best Elliptical Trainers Under $1000

As mentioned, the type of elliptical unit you are using will vary depending on the specific brand that you are buying. Some of them are more expensive, while others give you great features for an affordable price. However, the above-mentioned features are some of the mandatory features that every elliptical need to help you progress.

5 Most Unique Benefits Of The Elliptical Trainer

We are not going to bore you with all the benefits that are associated with things like the bicycle and the treadmill. You need to understand that all of the fitness equipment ever made are designed to help improve cardiovascular performance and endurance. However, here are a couple of aerobic exercise benefits that you can expect from your new elliptical:

1. You Can Burn More Calories Than Many Other Machines

girl stretching

Contrary to popular belief, not all of the equipment you are using will burn the same amount of calories. Many steady-state cardio equipments will burn a lot of calories, but you will take a lot of time to burn them off. However, the elliptical can help you burn more calories in a much faster amount of time with all the motions.

The reason for the extra calories that you are burning is that your arms will also be in motion. Since no part of your body will be actively resting, you will get rid of additional calories. Once these calories have been burned, you will notice that you get tired and this is when your body has depleted all of the glycogen and starts using some of the fatty acids for energy.

A Harvard Study into the effect of all cardio equipment has shown that an average 185-pound person can burn up to 400 calories in just 30-minutes on the elliptical trainer. This is slightly less than aerobics which comes in at 444 calories, but you won’t need to exert the same amount of effort to help you achieve this goal.

If you look through the study, you will notice that the elliptical trainer outweighs almost every other exercise when it comes to the number of calories that can be burned in 30 minutes. This allows you to work out faster and still be able to indulge in some of your favorite meals and snacks without adding the extra pounds.

2. Reduced Strain On Joints And Body Parts


If you have ever used an elliptical, you will see that it provides you with a smooth and clear motion for performing your specific exercise. Your feet will never leave the foot areas and this means that you don’t need to step harder on the unit. Each step that we take requires many tendons that are located in the joints to work harder.

Since your knees valuable and oftentimes you have not done the training to strengthen the small muscle fibers located inside, it is no secret that you can suffer from joint pain when you are running. The elliptical offers you a great alternative that will reduce the strain on your joints while not hindering any of your progress.

A study that was done in 2014 which actually combined the impact on the joints of running, walking, and running on a treadmill has proved that individuals that choose the elliptical will see a drastic reduction of tension that is placed on the joints. Similarly, it can help to strengthen these muscle fibers without overloading them over time.

3. It Helps Working Through Injuries

If you love, working out strenuously, your chances of picking up an injury are multiplied. However, people that are sedentary and don’t workout also run the risk of sustaining injuries when they start a new workout regime. This is where the elliptical takes over and allows you to slowly ease your way into fitness or work through an existing injury.

The elliptical does not force you to constantly hop on your feet as many other exercises do require. Since you remain in a natural upright position, the chances of bending your body in ways that are not healthy or natural are also reduced. This means that people packing a lot of extra weight can comfortably use the trainer.

Should you have an existing injury in your upper body, the elliptical does not put any strain on these parts like you would with running or cycling. The area is covered and you can continue to maintain your levels of fitness until the injury has healed. Based on this, it is a great way to improve your fitness when recovering from an injury.

***CAUTION*** Even though you can use the elliptical when you have an injury, it might be better to consult an expert. The expert will analyze the injury and with their knowledge of fitness equipment, they can give you a guideline on how to use the elliptical for the injury to heal. This commonly involves keeping the intensity low and prolonging it.

4. It Works The Upper And Lower Body


One of the biggest selling points that all the manufacturers have been focusing on is marketing the idea of working on your upper and lower body simultaneously. It is important to know that when you use the elliptical, you can get a full workout. As we have already mentioned, the full workout allows you to actually burn more calories.

However, you need to understand that you won’t be building any muscle with an elliptical. If you are a beginner, you might see a small improvement in muscle, but this is generally the fat around the muscle tissue burning away and exposing the muscle. Weight training and progressive overloading are one of the fastest ways to build solid muscle.

The elliptical is also multifunctional and with small handheld areas in the middle of the unit, you can choose to not focus on your upper body. We recommend using the entire elliptical as spot-reduction has been debunked by science over and over again and it is impossible to lose fat in one specific location. You can only lose overall body fat.

5. It Is Easy To Do And Has No Learning Curve

lunges exercise

Whether you are new to fitness or you have been working out for many years, the elliptical is one of the easiest pieces of equipment that can be used. The equipment can also be used by people of all ages this makes it a great idea to have in your home and to let everyone in your family get onto the fitness bandwagon.

Additionally, the design of the unit will tell you exactly what you need to do if you want to get started. Most often than not, an additional safety switch will also be added in close proximity to your hands. If you accidentally lose some control over the unit, you can easily push this button and the unit will basically stop immediately.

How to Use Your Elliptical for Burning the Most Fat in the Least Amount of Time?

Some elliptical training machines will have a program or two built-in that will assist you. However, most of these training programs have been designed to work when you consistently follow them for a couple of weeks to see some results. This is not to mention that you also need to follow a decent diet. However, here is one of our favorite workout routines you can do.

The Interval Training Method:

Unless you have never read anything on fitness or a have no interest in the niche, you might have heard about HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). HIIT is not a fad like many people might think it to be and it has been linked with many years of research. Basically, it means keeping your heart rate high for a couple of seconds before letting it come down and then continuing.

To optimize the results that you get from working out on the elliptical, you can start to incorporate the HIIT routines in your workout. Should you do this for 30-minutes, you might even double the number of calories you are burning for the rest of the day, which translate to more great foods you can eat without putting on weight.

Here is a small step-by-step way that you can use your elliptical trainer for getting more results and potentially improving your amount of calories burned:

Find The maximum difficulty level

Since HIIT is one of the extreme ways, you will need to find the maximum difficulty level that you can comfortably use for about 20-minutes and stick to this. You might notice that you start light and improve the difficulty each day.

Focus on Intensity

You will be doing this difficulty for around 60 seconds if you want the best results at the fastest pace that you can possibly go. At this pace, you will be elevating your heart rate to the highest possible level and improving fat loss.

Rest For 20-30 Seconds

You do get some time to rest and this will be a great time to catch your breath before you head into the next set. You can determine how long you need to rest, but it should not be more than 50% of the time that you spent working out.

Repeat For 20-30 Minutes

This is where the real catch comes in and you will need to repeat this cycle for 20-30 minutes. Once you are done, you can stop and you are done for the day. Research has shown that you will not only be burning fat during the workout but also when you are resting and this will maximize the amount of fat you can lose each weak. Also, you don’t need to do it for more than 3 times per week.


The elliptical trainer is one of the best pieces of equipment that will definitely change your life and your body composition. We hope that you have found this informative and would love to see some of your benefits and results in the comment section.