How To Use An Elliptical For Maximum Results

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By Natalie Martin

Even if you already know how to use an elliptical there’s a chance you might not be getting maximum results. This is probably due to the fact that you are not taking advantage of an elliptical’s versatility.


When you know how to use your elliptical to achieve maximum results you’ll be able to watch fat and extra pounds drop away, and see dramatic improvements in your cardiovascular health. Using your elliptical properly will require more than simply turning it on, you also need to take advantage of the various settings for incline and resistance. To give you an idea of what adjusting the incline can do for your workout here is a simple example,

  • At the lowest incline setting an elliptical will produce results similar to a cross-country skier exercise machine.
  • When the incline is set in the mid-range your workout will have benefits similar to those you get cycling.
  • If you want to get amazing results similar to a stair climber the incline should be set at a higher level.

Adjusting the resistance in an elliptical determines how much force it takes to move the pedals, and this will affect your results. Having the resistance set at the right level can make it easier for you to achieve your fitness goals. When you are seeing positive results, you are also more likely to stick with your workout plan. Before you start adjusting the resistance settings there are a few things you should know.


Type of Resistance

Elliptical machines can come with manual, motorized or electromagnetic resistance, and all three are capable of helping you meet and exceed your fitness goals. The cost of the elliptical will play a role in the type of resistance it comes with. Models that come with manual resistance are the least expensive, while electromagnetic is the quietest and easiest to adjust.


Benefits of Adjustable Resistance

Being able to adjust the resistance on an elliptical comes with several advantages. It is also important to note that not all elliptical trainers allow for adjustments, and it is something that you will want to look for if you want to get the most out of your workouts. Some of the benefits that you can get simply by adjusting the resistance during your workouts include,

Weight Loss

Adjusting the resistance on an elliptical is an effective way to help you burn fat and calories. The initial setting will depend on your current level of fitness, but adjusting it periodically can help you get past plateaus and meet your weight loss goals. You can still lose weight without increasing the resistance, but you will have to work out longer and you won’t see results as quickly.

Build Muscle

If one of your fitness goals is to build muscle in your lower body you will want to take advantage of the higher resistance settings. Increasing the angle of the incline will also help you build, strengthen and tone muscles. This also increases the amount of resistance, and works different lower body muscle groups.

Improved Cardio Health

Being able to adjust the resistance makes it easier for you to stay within your targeted heart rate range, and this is necessary for good cardio health. The American Heart Association recommends getting in at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise every day, which is easy if you are working out on an elliptical trainer. You do want to remember to set the resistance to your current fitness level to achieve the best results.


Before you start adjusting the incline and increasing the intensity of your workout, it is a good idea to first get approval from a licensed physician. Take some time to experiment with the various settings on an elliptical, and pretty soon you will be using it for maximum results.

Elliptical for Maximum Results

Adjusting Stride Length

Stride length is often overlooked, and it is just as important as resistance and incline in getting maximum results from an elliptical. Pulled muscles and other injuries can easily occur if the stride length is not correct. In general experienced trainers recommend,

  • Users less than 5’ 3” should have the stride length set from 16 to 18 inches.
  • People measuring 5’ 4” to 6’ 7” will want the stride length to be set from 18 to 21 inches depending on their exact height.
  • If you are 6’ 8” or taller there are some models that are capable of a 26 inch stride length.


Changing the stride length, within the guidelines for your height, can also make it easier for you to get maximum results from an elliptical. Some of these include,

  • You can focus on a specific muscle area by changing the stride length.
  • Shorter stride lengths help target thigh and calf muscles.
  • If you want to target glutes and hamstrings set the elliptical for a longer stride length.

Get Maximum Results from an Elliptical

Simply working the pedals up and down will put you on your way towards meeting your fitness goals, but it will not get you maximum results. Taking advantage of the various settings for resistance, incline and even stride length will help you get the results that you want in less time.

As always, it is best to get advice from an experienced trainer or health care professional before you start working out on an elliptical.

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