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Women working out on an elliptical near mirror

Are Ellipticals Good for Cardio?

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Elliptical machines provide steady-state cardiovascular workouts that help to strengthen not only your heart but other vital organs as well. This type of workout equipment also helps you build muscle and provides the option of high-intensity interval training. How do ellipticals stack up against equipment alternatives that provide a solid cardio workout? Overall, ellipticals provide a strong cardio workout. They exceed other equipment in burning calories, is low impact, improve balance and coordination, and are often customizable to the user. Read more below to see for yourself.

Woman with tape measure around waistBurning Calories

On average, people using ellipticals burn anywhere between 270 and 400 calories during a 30-minute workout routine. Weight and workout intensity are the two biggest contributing factors to how many calories are burned using an elliptical machine. Compare those results to the type of cardiovascular workout a treadmill provides. A 30-minute workout on a treadmill would be good for burning between 150 and 220 calories, much less than the expectations set for an elliptical machine. Moderate intensity workouts on recumbent bikes are good for burning approximately 210 calories in a 30 minute time period, making these machines less impactful than treadmills in terms of burning calories.

Those attempting to lose weight must burn more calories than they consume. Therefore, the advantages an elliptical machine provides over its counterparts could help provide that extra edge.

Relieves Joint Pressure

It’s no secret that running is difficult on joints. Elliptical machines created quite the storm when they first hit the market. Workout enthusiasts immediately understood the benefits of getting a cardio workout on an elliptical machine. Not only are ellipticals less weight-bearing than running or jogging, but they are less weight-bearing than other similar types of workout regimens, too.

Related: Read our review of the Efitment E006 Elliptical

Fat Burning

The simple fact that ellipticals burn more calories than other cardio equipment means that these machines are going to help you burn fat more quickly. For the best results, high-intensity workouts are recommended. Interval training is also key. Interval training on an elliptical means 30 to 60 seconds of high-intensity activity followed by 15 to 30 seconds of recovery time. Rinse and repeat. If you’re a beginner, read these tips for using an elliptical to get started right.

Man and woman with elliptical cross trainer at gymBalance & Coordination

Ellipticals provide certain advantages over other types of workout equipment (see benefits of ellipticals vs treadmills) when it comes to improving balance and coordination. Not only that, but this type of weight-bearing exercise helps to strengthen your bones, too. Does an injury have you sidelined from participating in your normal workout routine? People often find that ellipticals can help them maintain fitness while recovering from particular injuries. One of the best aspects of elliptical training is that while people can achieve a high-intensity workout with interval training, the machine itself falls into the category of low-impact exercise.

In fact, elliptical training is sometimes able to help those who have been injured regain their full range of motion. Additionally, not only do ellipticals help relieve joint pressure, but they work to strengthen joints as well.

Customizable Options

Elliptical machines are easy to use and provide a wide array of customizable options. The pre-programmed routines that ellipticals offer address interval training, hill climbing, and much more. You are almost always able to tailor the workout to your individual needs for the day.

The learning curve for ellipticals is quite easy, too. Trainers are always available to provide helpful tips when necessary. One recommended tip is for beginners to simply operate an elliptical using the foot pedals until they are familiar enough with the machine to start using the handles simultaneously.

Ellipticals Vs Running

Running has long been the preferred cardiovascular workout for many enthusiasts. Yet running presents its own set of unique challenges, like the wear and tear on joints as mentioned previously. Another advantage to the elliptical machine is that a person can adjust both resistance and incline on demand. If you want to run an entire mile at a certain incline, that goal is achievable with the push of a button.

Naturally, there is no honest substitute for a good old-fashioned run in terms of results; however, there are the drawbacks as you can see, particularly when running regularly each day. The ground is rather inconsistent in terms of terrain and stability. While this comes with its physical consequences, a good run has a major impact on your entire body. Additionally, swinging your arms while running helps to facilitate better upper body strength. This type of arm motion is optional when using an elliptical.

Core muscles do not get the workout needed when people fail to utilize the handlebars on an elliptical machine. The fix seems easy enough, but people must take the initiative to use the handles. When running, the arm motion is natural, and therefore, core muscles are worked out instinctively.

Final Thoughts

Elliptical machines are one of the best choices available when it comes to achieving a low-impact, high-intensity workout. Incorporate interval training and make use of the handles, and the results are even better. Increase resistance for better calorie burn, and make use of the elliptical machine to shake up your workout routine once in a while.