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Woman working out on elliptical trainer in gym

What Does the Elliptical Do for Your Legs?

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Running typically causes an impact of your body weight to your legs, joints, and ankles during the workout that can have a deteriorating effect over time. This physical body movement consumes a lot of energy and sometimes may affect the joints in your legs, or you may sustain an injury that could cause an extended period of healing time. Thus, you may end up giving up on working out due to the lost momentum you had before the injury. But have you ever considered using other techniques that do not harm or expose you to minor leg injuries? It could be useful to give it a try using an elliptical machine and to understand what an elliptical can do for your legs without the jarring impact of jogging/running. Even better, you can find many models that can be used in small spaces (see Tips for Working out in an Apartment) without paying those expensive gym memberships (see Best Elliptical for Small Spaces).

Targets the Leg Muscles

When you pedal on the elliptical trainer forward and backward, it mixes up your workout and challenges your thighs and calves differently. The quadriceps and hamstring movements release the leg muscles and tissue tension by changing both the resistance and increasing the foot pedals incline on an elliptical. The other effective way of targeting the leg muscles is to change the pedals’ movement on the reverse motion, which increases the length of your strides; thus, strengthening and hardening your hamstring and quadriceps. Additionally, a cross-trainer (similar to an elliptical) can also work your arms and legs simultaneously. Many use the term elliptical to encompass both machines, but there are subtle differences between the two.

Man and woman with elliptical cross trainer at gymBurns Body Fat and Improves Blood Circulation

The intensity of your workout and the speed of pedaling will generate a lot of heat that can quickly burn fat in your thighs and clear out much of the cholesterol in your veins and arteries. This will improve blood flow to your legs, enhance oxygen supply to neutralize the lactic accumulation in the muscle tissues, improve acupressure on your legs to fight against getting numb, and help with the prevention of blood clots in the veins while keeping your blood pressure low.

Maintains Fitness

Running physically on the ground exposes the runner to injuries due to the impact of their weight or uneven ground. This can easily cause an injury that may keep you from exercising. Using an elliptical is safer since it is a low-impact exercise and puts less stress on your joints, keeping you fit and free from injuries because you have maintained the momentum without going through the injury “time outs”.

Related: Read our review of the Bowflex M8 Max Trainer

Improves Your Balance

While you focus on strengthening, hardening, and burning out the calories around your thigh muscles and quadriceps, weight-bearing exercises can help you strengthen your bones, which is responsible for helping to maintain balance. This is mostly achieved by standing up straight and letting go of the elliptical handles to target your core muscles and work on your balancing while pedaling. But before trying to balance, always ensure that the resistance and incline are set safely.

Women working out on an elliptical near mirrorMinimizes Stress on Your Joints

Working out on an elliptical significantly reduces the load on your joints as your feet remain stationary as you work out. Additionally, adjusting the angle of the stride further reduces stress on your joints. Being in a stationary position reduces the stress at your toes and helps to avoid placing too much weight on the front of your feet, hence eliminating the discomfort and stress on your joints. Furthermore, when you are free from joint stresses, it prevents you from cheating your movement while using your weight and gravity while pedaling.

Improves Lower Body Function

While working out on your body, do not forget that while struggling to burn all those fats in your legs and thighs, the elliptical increases functional mobility in your body through muscle endurance and steady balancing of the bones. As a beginner, your speed on the elliptical machine does not matter, but you will realize your leg strength is improving, and you achieve a better speed over time.


Working out on an elliptical machine can do wonders for your lower body when compared to the jarring effects of jogging on hard or uneven ground. If you are an athlete or simply want to get in better shape, consider using an elliptical trainer/machine to save you from unnecessary injuries. Furthermore, the benefits experienced by working out on one of these devices is impressive considering the deteriorating effects of similar exercises.