Elliptical machines pack a lot of benefits, as you’d expect. Getting one for home use will help you tone your muscles, avoid the risk of specific heart problems, and achieve your weight goals.
Sometimes the cons outweigh the elliptical benefits. We’ll discuss why cross-trainers are generally excellent fitness tools, but we’ll also discuss their not-so-bright sides.
Keep reading below!
9 Elliptical Machine Benefits
Let’s start with the advantages:
1. Improved Cardiovascular Capacity
As you know, aerobic workouts strengthen your heart because your heart is a muscle, so it needs to be exercised. Aerobic activities also teach your lungs how to oxygenate your body correctly even when you’re making a lot of effort.
Cross-trainers are aerobic tools, so a challenging elliptical workout benefits your heart, lungs, and stamina.
2. Weight Loss
According to a Harvard study, ellipticals benefit weight loss because thirty minutes on one can help you lose 270-400 calories.
Remember, though, that these numbers depend on your weight and how hard you’re exercising.
- Don’t overdo it because your muscles get weak with overtraining. So even if you want to lose a lot of weight quickly, take your rest days very seriously.
- Accelerate your metabolism with HIIT-based workouts. Simple cardio with no intensity variation becomes boring fast to your brain and body. As such, your metabolism slows down, and your weight will plateau. So, if you want to continue losing weight, keep your body guessing with HIIT workouts.
Read more: How to Lose Weight on an Elliptical Trainer
People with joint pain or mobility problems often avoid exercise because working out intensifies their issues. Some older adults also avoid exercising because they’re afraid they’ll hurt their joints.
Conversely, one of the benefits of using an elliptical is reduced impact. In addition, several studies prove that cross-trainers protect your joints from wear and tear, which means they’re very safe machines.
4. Total Body Workout
Cross-trainers exercise your entire body, from your neck to your tippy toes.
Here’s an example:
When you’re pushing with the left hand, you’re activating your left biceps and deltoid, your left hamstring, calf, and glute, plus your right-side quad and hip flexor.
Of course, your core is constantly in motion, twisting and turning. So an elliptical machine benefits the stomach because it slims it down and makes it stronger.
You can expect a six-pack in just a few weeks if you’re eating healthily.
More importantly, your stronger core will help you stay straighter in an anatomically correct position. Thus, you’ll avoid chronic back pain or even compressed discs.
5. Fat Burn
Using an elliptical can quickly bring you into that fat-burning zone.
Studies show that a workout intensity that challenges you plus incorporating HIIT is your best bet towards shredding your fat stores.
Pro tip: The best HIIT proportion is 2:1, such as 20 seconds of 80-100% effort intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery at around 20-30% intensity.
6. Comprehensive Lower Body Workout
Some ellipticals are easy to adjust so that you can target your lower body muscles from different angles. That will help you strengthen your muscles and your bones.
For example, increasing the incline activates your calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Reversing the elliptical does the same thing.
Stronger hamstrings and glutes give shape to your butt and legs so that you can look better in your jeans. But did you know these muscles are also essential to avoid lower back pain?
By comparison, lowering your elliptical’s pedals activates your quads, shins, and hip flexors. That way, you’ll avoid shin splints and hip pain. You’ll also increase the flexibility in your hips which leads to less overall pain and increased mobility.
7. Better Balance
While ellipticals aren’t 100% weight-bearing as walking, they’re not 0% either. Thus, working out on your cross-trainer regularly will strengthen your bones.
Combine stronger bones with stronger core muscles, and you get a better balance.
Pro tip: Set the resistance and incline at a level that’s challenging enough without becoming dangerous.
8. Range Of Motion
Using an elliptical will improve your joint flexibility and tone your muscles to improve your range of motion. You may need that if you’re functionally challenged because of age, post-surgery, or another health condition.
9. Easy To Learn
Ellipticals don’t have a high learning curve, so anyone can learn how to use them. If you’re not confident in your abilities, watch a YouTube video or ask your trainer for guidance.
Pro tip: If you lack mobility or confidence, start with just the foot pedals. Once you’re gaining more confidence, incorporate the arm motions.
3 Elliptical Machine Disadvantages
Now that we’ve seen the elliptical trainer benefits let’s review the drawbacks.
Less Joint Strength
Ellipticals reduce the impact on your joints. That’s an advantage if you already have joint pain or a specific condition that prevents you from working out.
The same feature can become a disadvantage if you don’t have any health issues affecting your joints.
After all, you can’t keep your knees and ankles healthy if you’re not challenging them appropriately.
Muscle Toning Vs. Muscle Building
An elliptical machine trains your entire body. However, don’t expect to build lean muscle mass because ellipticals don’t use as much resistance as weight training or rowing.
This distinction is essential because building muscle has several benefits compared to simply toning them. For example, more muscle mass accelerates your metabolism so that you can burn more calories even at rest.
Less Bone Strength
Elliptical machines are weight-bearing exercises but not entirely so, as walking or running. Thus, they won’t strengthen your bones as much as a stroll in the park or using the treadmill.
So, ellipticals don’t prevent bone demineralization and osteoporosis pain as well as walking. If you’re interested in that, consider purchasing a treadmill.
After reviewing an elliptical’s benefits and disadvantages, it’s time to make your choice.
Cross-trainers improve your flexibility and balance, help you love a lot of weight, and improve your cardiovascular capacity. These machines are excellent if you have weak, painful joints or if you’re mobility-challenged.
However, if your goal is to increase your muscle mass and strengthen your bones, ellipticals are imperfect. In this case, consider a rowing machine, treadmill, or strength training.