What Muscle Groups Work Using an Elliptical Machine ?

muscles of the leg used during an elliptical trainingTreadmills, elliptical trainers, portable exercise machines, exercise balls – these are just a few of the fitness equipment and products which have flooded the market over the past few years. In a world where the temptation to lead a sedentary lifestyle is everywhere, one would require much self-discipline not to let yourself go in terms of gaining excess weight.

With elevators, escalators, nine-to-five desk jobs and fast food – how can you make sure that you are getting the physical exercise that you need in order to stay fit? Fortunately, you can always count on the right type of exercise machine to help you lose weight.

Whether you have two or twenty pounds to lose, something like an elliptical trainer will be able to provide you just-the-right type of exercise that you need in order to meet your weight loss or fitness goals.

Elliptical Trainers versus Other Exercise Machines

Here, we will take a look at the many workout benefits that you will get to enjoy by choosing elliptical trainers over other types of exercise machines. Also called cross trainers, elliptical machines, elliptical bikes or simply elliptical, these exercise machines are usually located at the cardio section of your local health club or gym.

The equipment manages to combine the movements made when you use the treadmill, an exercise bike or a stair climber. When you use an elliptical trainer, the physical training that you will get will be equivalent to going hiking, biking and cross-country skiing!

The name elliptical comes from the oval pattern of movement that your feet makes as you move them back and forth. So what edge does working out with an elliptical trainer have when you compare it with using a traditional treadmill, for example?

First, elliptical trainers help reduce the impact of jogging or using the treadmill to your joints. Second, depending on the intensity of the workout session that you have, you will be able to burn more calories with the help of an elliptical trainer – which averages about 8 to 12 calories per minute.

Third, elliptical machines provide the user with an option to work on the upper instead of just the lower portion of your body.

Which Muscle Groups does an Elliptical Trainer Work On?

If you want to be more specific in your knowledge of the benefits of using elliptical trainers, let us take a look at the muscle groups which this type of an exercise equipment help you work on:

You actually don’t need to be a professional bodybuilder in order to have sexy calves. With the help of elliptical trainers, you will be able to work on this muscle group in a jiffy. All you need to do is reverse the direction of your normal movement while using the machine. For this, you need to shift your weight to your heels. Then, spin the platform where your foot is placed in a clockwise direction so that you are pedaling backwards.

Glutes and Hamstrings

Using elliptical trainers will help streamline your glutes and hamstrings. While using the machine, make sure to place your weight forward to your heels so that these two muscle groups will be given a good workout.


Yes, the heart is a muscle group – and there’s no better way to get a good cardio workout than with the help of an elliptical trainer.

Upper Body

Unlike treadmills which only work on the lower part of your body, you do have the option of working on your upper body muscles with the help of elliptical trainers. For this, simply use the moving handle bars or carry weights as you slowly workout using the elliptical trainer.

One final note. When using elliptical trainers, make sure that you are aware of what the settings are. For example, some machines have settings named as Fat Burn, Personal Trainer and Reverse – while others stick to the basic labeling of Light, Moderate and Heavy.

Learn how to switch from one setting to another so that you can gain the maximum set of benefits for each workout session that you have.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bil Carter March 2, 2010 at 7:44 am

I am using an elliptical to gain some endurnace and stay in shape between football season as a referee. Can the elliptical build up my ability to run thus saving my knees?

admin March 2, 2010 at 11:21 am

I do not think Elliptical will improve your ability to run. It’s a different type of movement and it not requires a lot of knees work as required for running.

It’s a great cardiovascular exercise that could help you gain more stamina you can use for running, but doing more elliptical do not mean you’ll increase your running ability.

Hope it helps
Warm regards

Mark July 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I used an elliptical trainer in physical therapy during a running injury. It’s a great no-impact workout and will help maintain fitness but when I went back to running I was quickly reminded that there’s no substitute for running! As for the calves, the forward movement on an elliptical does very little for them. That was the first area screaming when I got back to running.

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