How Long And Often Should You Use Your Elliptical?

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By Natalie Martin

Even though ellipticals can give you a great full body cardio workout many people wonder if it is possible to overdo it, even though these machines are considered safe. Just like not getting enough exercise can adversely affect your health, so can working out too much. It will also make it harder for you to reach your fitness goals, and this is something you definitely don’t want to do. If you want to get the most out of your elliptical workout it is always best to have an exercise plan. This will also help ensure that you are working out as often as you should, and for the right amount of time.



The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that using an elliptical 3 to 5 times a week will promote weight loss, along with optimal cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that people that work out less than 3 days a week see minimal results, and in some cases may even see a decrease in their overall fitness levels. While you can safely use your elliptical up to 5 days in one week, you never want to exercise less than 3.



In most cases working out on an elliptical 30 minutes a day, five times a week is enough to prevent some heart related diseases and noticeable weight gain. This means you only have to spend 150 minutes a week on your elliptical. If you want to maximize weight loss or increase the intensity of your training the ACSM recommends exercising on an elliptical for 250 to 300 minutes per week. Some people have found it easier to get their workout times in when they divide the sessions into 10 minute increments. This can be especially helpful if you have a portable elliptical under your desk at work.

How To Use An Elliptical


When Should You Not Use an Elliptical?


One of the reasons for the sudden popularity of ellipticals is that these exercise machines are considered safe for almost anyone. They are designed to provide you with a low impact cardio workout, and when an elliptical is used properly it can produce amazing results.

However, there might be times when you should not use an elliptical, and it is important for your health and safety that you know when.


Weak Bones

If you have or at risk for osteoporosis an elliptical trainer will probably not be the best choice for you. This is due to the fact that the low impact motions only strengthen and tone muscles, not bones. In this case you might want to consider working out on a treadmill since the repeated impact on the belt will help strengthen weak bones.


If You’ve Plateaued

You can only adjust the resistance and incline so high on an elliptical, and this means that eventually you will hit a plateau. This refers to the period when your results do not change, whether you are building muscle, strength or trying to lose weight. If your only goal is to improve your health and stay in shape then plateauing is something you don’t have to worry about.

Want to Build Muscle Mass

Even rapid pedaling and arm movement on an elliptical will not build noticeable muscle mass. The repeated motions will tone and strengthen leg, core and arm muscles, but you will not get noticeably larger. If your goal is to “bulk up” you should speak to an experience trainer or weight lifter for help in creating a safe and effective body building workout plan.


Before you start any exercise plan it is always best to first get approval from your primary health care provider. Not only will this ensure that your workout plan is safe, but that you are also exercising often enough and for the right amount of time.

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