How to Use an Elliptical Machine: Beginner’s Guide

If the elliptical workout is part of your gym routine which means you hop onto an elliptical, put on your headphones, and pedal for 20 minutes at the same pace and incline, then, you could be getting the most from your time at the gym.

There are many reasons as to why people love using elliptical machines at the gym. First, it is non-impact, which basically means that the pounding users get from the usual running doesn’t exist here. In addition, the motion is smooth, not to forget the fact that it may help you to recover from injuries. If you experience knee pain when you jump or run, you can use an elliptical machine to move smoothly.

However, as with any workout, it can get old fast, and if you are not the somewhat person that knows how to challenge himself/herself, your results may plateau. In this post on how to use an elliptical machine , you will learn how to get a wonderful elliptical workout.

How to Use an Elliptical machine

• Make sure that your feet are flat on the pedals

The right form will help you to avoid pains and aches that may come up when your body isn’t properly aligned. Your feet should go on the pedals and hands on the bars alongside the elliptical machine or right below the base of the monitor depending on the machine you are using. Make sure that you maintain a micro-bend in your elbows and knees and ensure that your feet are flat against the pedals rather than standing on your toes. You may also want to clench your core to keep it engaged and keep your back straight so that your spine is long. 

• You may also want to include some core exercises

You may not be able to feel your core throughout the training session but to get the most from your workout, you will want to make sure that your abs are engaged. You can test that by stepping off the machine and dropping down to holding a plank that are static. This will remind you how to engage your abs.

Including some core, exercises be an easy way of mixing up your time on this machine. After every three minutes, you can get flying the machine and do side planks for 30 seconds.

• Vary the incline of the machine to hit your gluts (butt muscles)

With a higher incline, you will be able to work out your butt muscles. You can adjust the incline manually after every other minute to either go up or down to get a better feel for it. The incline usually ranges from 1-20 degrees; therefore, try to go up in increments of two every time. You will want to start at zero for sixty seconds before moving up to two, then four, six and then go back down. This ladder can be varied and go up all the way to twenty if you would likes or alternate by fives.

• You can go backwards on the machine without turning around your body 

By going backwards on the elliptical, you will be able to target your hamstrings, which are usually weak in many people. How do you do that? When you get on the machine and start pedaling, it is likely in the clockwise direction. Slow down and reverse them to start moving in the opposite direction. Although this might sound strange, once you try it, you will actually be able to feel the difference.

• Use the ‘pause’ button as your interval timer.

When you hit the ‘pause’ button, it will give you a minute of countdown; therefore, you may do a combo with the machine and specific workout for the upper-body. Use the elliptical for one minute and then do a couple of push-ups. Depending on the amount of space that’ around the machine, you can pull the mat over or stick with other exercises like squats. Take a rest for the remaining time before hopping back on the machine. Do ten intervals for a full body workout of 20 minutes that fits in cardio and strength.

• Know when to hold the handles and when not to

Only use your legs to emphasize lower body. Driving through your hamstrings and gluts will exert more effort and pressure on your lower body. Without using the handles, you also get more of the core focus. You need to make sure that you balance as you keep your legs are moving.

After mastering that, you simply need to switch it up and emphasize on how much you are pulling and pushing the handles. You will allow your legs to follow along, but ensure that you put your effort in using the handles to initiate all your movements.

You may also want to alternate 30 secs pushes from the upper body with 60 secs of total body work, again getting the legs involved. Repeat this for another 20 minutes.

• Add dumbbells

Put a pair of dumbbells on the elliptical machine so that you can pause after every three minutes to do a few bicep curls or shoulder presses. The pauses will help you to channel your energy into movements of the arm and keep form during arm exercises. You can always leave the dumbbells near the machine (provided there is enough space) so that you can pause and do some exercises.

how to use an elliptical machine for beginners

• Try some high-intensity interval workouts.

Many people use the elliptical for steady-state cardio exercise; however, it is also a wonderful impact machine for interval training. You can do a 30-sec high resistance workout and then recover for one minute. Repeat this for ten to twenty minutes.

When you rate your workout on a scale of 10, you should always aim for the highest figure. Your work intervals during your Hit session should be about 9 outs of 10. The harder and faster you workout during mini bursts, the more you will benefit from those workouts. However, you will want to take advantage of that rest minute. The remaining periods are necessary for preparing the body and enabling it to perform at its best during high-intensity spurts.


There you go! We hope you have learned something in this guide on how to use an elliptical machine. The next time you hop onto an elliptical, you will know how to get the most out of your workout session.

Robert G. Morgan

Robert is a professional cardio trainer.He has been elliptical trainer for last 5 years. He loves using elliptical machine for exercise.Based on his experience of elliptical trainer,he is sharing his opinion about different types of elliptical machine.

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