What Muscles Do Elliptical Machines Target?

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By Natalie Martin

If you’re not already familiar with ellipticals these machines combine some of the features found on treadmills and step climbers to create a low impact cardio workout that is considered safe for almost everyone. While the design and included functions can vary to some degree depending on the elliptical’s manufacturer, these exercise machines are all designed to work the same muscle groups.

 What Muscles Are Worked On An Elliptical



An elliptical machine is a great way to exercise your leg muscles, especially your quadriceps. These are the muscles located in your thighs that expand and contract every time you lift or move your legs. Pushing down on the elliptical’s pedals will force the four major muscles that make up your quads to flex repeatedly, and this in turn helps to build strength. Your hamstrings can also get a safe workout on an elliptical when you take advantage of the “incline” function. This can improve the flexibility in your legs, which in turn can prevent certain types of injury. You can also get the same results when you use the elliptical in reverse. Along with working your quads, you can also tone and strength the muscles in your calves on an elliptical machine.



Your abdominal muscles are located in your core, and are important for a number of reasons. Abs provide the stability you need for sitting, standing and almost every other position your body may find itself in throughout the day. These muscles are also responsible for giving body builders their trademark “6 packs”, and when they are toned and strong can help you have the confidence you need to show off your new bikini.

When you are concentrating on toning and strengthening your leg muscles, simply holding your abs tight will help tighten your core. This will allow you to have proper posture during your workout, while also forcing your abs to contract. This way you can get the most out of an elliptical workout.


Gluteus Maximus

These important muscles run from your lower back down to your thighs, and are responsible for more than giving you a tight firm backside. These muscles also help provide stability in the hips, and this is important if you want to be able to safely move around at any age. Runners and cyclists are some of the athletes that can benefit from working their glutes on an elliptical, along with adults over 50. Working this large muscle group is also a great way to effectively burn calories and boost metabolism.

Muscles Worked On An Elliptical


Upper Body

Almost all ellipticals come with moveable handles so you can effectively work the muscles in your shoulders, arms, upper back and chest. Even if the handles are stationary, you can still get in a full body workout just by putting the elliptical in reverse. This is especially true when you are working your rhomboids, and other upper back muscles. When it comes to strengthening and toning your triceps and biceps, most experienced trainers agree that you will get the best results if your elliptical comes with moveable handles or poles.


Get a Full Body Workout


Thanks to its ability to work various muscle groups, you can easily get in a full body workout on an elliptical machine. It is a great way to get in some low impact cardio exercise, and these workout machines are considered safe for almost anyone to use. With the ability to adjust resistance, incline and even stride length, you can successfully tone and strengthen muscles in your upper and lower body.

Before you start any exercise plan, on or off an elliptical, it is always a good idea to first speak with a health care professional.




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