Do Elliptical Machines Work?


I'm 5'4" tall, weigh 135 pounds, don't know my body fat but I would like to lose about 10 pounds. Would an elliptical machine be a good piece of equipment to achieve my goals?

I've heard from my friend that they work great. So, do elliptical machines work fat off your behind or build muscle to achieve a J-Lo type butt? I want results but I also don't want to get bulky in the process.

I'm afraid to use a Stairmaster because I bulk very easily and I just want to tone up and lose about 10 pounds. So my question is, do these fancy machines work for what I just explained?

What are other benefits of elliptical machines?

Thanks for your website, I use it all the time and so does my husband as we can't trust magazines and most websites.

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question


Whether or not elliptical machines "work" is a very common question. Since elliptical machines are relatively new compared to treadmills, exercise bikes, and stair steppers, some people think they are the magic machine that will help them achieve their fitness goals the fastest, where in fact, they are actually just another cardio machine.

Just like a treadmill, stair stepper, rower, or any other cardio machine, elliptical machines will give back what you put in as far as results go.

No machine is going to force you to exercise harder, the results you'll achieve will all come down to your work ethic.

Take a look at the various calories you burn during sports, fitness and activities of daily living.

Elliptical trainers actually burn about the same amount of calories as jogging. These types of estimates are very rough though. For example, estimated calories burned during bicycling does not factor in things such as how hard you were peddling, the incline you chose for the cardio machine, or a hill you chose to ride up.

See where I'm going with this? Again, what you put out is what you'll get back!


Benefits of Elliptical Exercise Machines

The primary benefit from elliptical machine exercise is there is it is a low impact exercise. This is also often a problem because many people don't realize that high impact exercise is better for you than low impact exercise.

In individuals with healthy joints, higher impact exercises such as climbing stairs and jogging are superior to elliptical machine exercise because they positively effect bone mass. This is especially important in women.

Elliptical machines are great for people with knee problems as the smooth elliptical motion (ellipse on right) on most machines is very smooth and can be adjusted in many angles to find the right area.

Elliptical machines are also great for cross training as they simulate a movement which you rarely do in your daily life. Performing a varied routine training on ellipticals, treadmills, bicycles, Stairmasters is usually superior than sticking on a sole machine.

Bulking During Cardio

You stated you didn't want to bulk and while this is very, very unlikely to happen if you are not consuming excess calories in your diet. Elliptical exercise machines are just as unlikely to cause you to bulk up than most cardio machines. Again, if you're eating like an Olympic powerlifter any exercise may contribute to bulking you up but with a sensible diet you should be okay.


The Verdict

Elliptical machines can work to help you lose weight, burn fat, build your cardio endurance, and even bulk up. It is your choice which goals you will achieve by eating the correct diet and performing a properly balanced exercise program.

Your best bet would be to use the elliptical models with the handles so you can use both upper and lower body together so you won't accidentally focus on a specific muscle which will increase the chances of bulking during exercise.

 As stated before, to get the best results with your training program for your 10 pound weight loss goal it is best if you vary your routine to include more forms of cardio along with your favorite elliptical machine.Precor EFX 576i


Best Elliptical Machines

Commercial Precor models are the most popular ellipticals in the world because of ease of use and quality.

The newest models the Precor EFX 576i are the best elliptical model on the market that is likely in your gym waiting for you to use it.


More Cardio Information
Learn how to utilize cardio machines to get the results you desire.  Get the lowdown on every different cardio machine which you will find at your local gym or in a fitness equipment store.
Do elliptical machines work for everybody? No, but there are pieces of home gym equipment that will suit your specific needs.

  Ask The Trainer More Q&A Here

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