Fitness Articles

How to use the Elliptical Trainer

A Fun, Low-Impact Cardio Option

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This standard piece of exercise equipment is one of the most popular in many gyms. Ellipticals are a unique hybrid of a treadmill, stepper, bike and cross-country skier, that move your legs in an elongated oval pattern (hence the name elliptical). This low-impact machine is also easy on the knees, simple to use, and burns big calories.
  • Step onto the elliptical trainer, facing the console. You may have to start pushing the pedals to turn on the monitor.
  • Most will have a digital monitor. Follow the instructions given to either setup a pre-designed program, or start your own program. Notice where the controls for incline are located, as well as other important buttons for starting, stopping, and pausing.
  • Push the pedals in a forward motion (they also go backwards). It's easier to balance when moving forward, and backward pedaling can be hard on your knees.
  • Some machines have moving handlebars, and others have fixed handlebars. Using the handlebars will give you more of a full-body workout, but it will also take some of the emphasis away from your legs and butt. If using fixed handlebars, continue to stand up straight and avoid leaning your weight onto the handlebars or console.
  • Increase or decrease your resistance at any point, and feel free to switch between forward and backward pedaling (if your balance allows) throughout your workout.
For elliptical workout ideas, check out these SparkPeople workout programs:
Elliptical Training for Endurance
Elliptical Intervals
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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