How to Select the Right Settings During Your Elliptical Workout

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There are lots of ways to spice up your cardio. From running and sprinting on a treadmill inside to lacing up those sneaks for some pavement pounding outside. You could take up biking, rollerblading, circuit training, you name it, but you won’t run out of interesting options to get that heart muscle pumping!

When it comes to cardio machines, some of our favorites are elliptical trainers. They’re an incredible way for people of all fitness levels to get aerobic exercise. Among many of the benefits, ellipticals provide a great full body, low impact workout that delivers a major calorie burn in a short amount of time. You’ve probably poked around these machines, tried various settings, or even wondered, “What does level mean on an elliptical?” so it’s time to take a minute and learn about each option to maximize your elliptical workout.

First thing’s first: No matter which program you choose, always enter your weight and age. This will help most elliptical trainers get an accurate reading on the number of calories you’re burning, and it’s a great way to tell if you’re reaching your fitness goals.

Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention proper form which includes three key areas: your upper body, lower body and core muscles. For your upper body, make sure your hands are gripping the bars at or below your shoulders. If your arms are too high, it can cause strain in your neck. Maintaining an upright posture by engaging your core muscles is also important. This will prevent back strain and help you maintain your desired speed, especially on those inclines. Your lower body is mainly about the position of your feet. Ideally they will be flush with the pedals at all times. This will help you engage the muscles in your hips and legs.

Manual Setting

This setting on elliptical trainers is what you make it. It is as simple as the quick start button, but the only difference is that if you hit “manual,” it will allow you to put your body weight and age into the settings (again, key!). After beginning, you can adjust the resistance and workout length to your liking. If you select manual, you have to take personal ownership over your effort to reach your calorie burning goals.

Heart Rate Setting

This is a good setting for people who have a target heart rate to hit. After entering your weight and age, enter your target heart rate. As your workout progresses, the elliptical will then automatically adjust the resistance to keep you near your goal. If your heart rate is too high, the resistance lowers; if your heart rate is too low, the resistance will increase…much like on most treadmills.

Interval Setting

This is a favorite fat burning option for many people. The resistance increases periodically (flipping through two levels that you can adjust) so that the heart rate is going up, and then coming down for a rest. This kind of elliptical training is a lot like high intensity interval training (HIIT) and according to Harvard Medical School interval training (going hard for rotating 30-60 second intervals during a workout) can increase your metabolic rate, which also increases the number of calories you burn, which in turn can decrease your body weight. Try that, treadmill! Well, actually treadmills can do that too, but they are not as low impact as ellipticals.

Weight Loss Setting

This option on elliptical trainers is similar to the aforementioned interval option. The biggest difference is that the high resistance intervals last longer, requiring the extra effort needed, especially on those inclines—to help you become an elliptical fat burning machine.

Variety Setting

Sometimes people like a cruise control option. Of course this still requires effort, but if you just want to put your feet on the pedals and get those arms and legs moving for a certain amount of time and have the elliptical trainer make changes on the fly by switching resistance levels up for you at random, this is the way to go. And for some variety in scenery, consider hitting the road on an elliptical bike!

Performance Setting

The performance option on elliptical trainers is beneficial for people making an effort toward specific results or endurance-based goals. It will shift to a higher incline or increase resistance periodically, getting more difficult as the workout progresses. For endurance athletes who want a break from the treadmill, bike, or strictly speed and strength training, this is a great option.

And there you have it!

 

We hope this refines your elliptical training and makes you an even bigger fan than before. This low impact, full body, high results machine is one of the best ways to safely get back into the fitness game, change your routine, add some cardio that feels less like work and more like fun, or simply give you one more reason to show your smiling face around our gyms. Our favorite part.

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