Elliptical machines have quickly become an important part of numerous weight loss and muscle training programs. They engage a wide range of major muscle groups, which results in a comprehensive exercise routine.
If being healthy and fit is one of your main priorities, you’ve probably considered the purchase and the addition of an elliptical machine to your home gym. The following guide will acquaint you with the essentials and help you pick the fitness appliance that will give you the best results.
The primary purpose of the elliptical machine is to put the cardiovascular system under some stress. This stress is very important for strengthening the heart and improving its function. As a result, cardio exercises like the ones done on an elliptical machine can reduce the risk of various heart or blood vessel diseases.
The heart responds to stress by getting stronger. After all, it is a muscle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week will be sufficient to experience comprehensive cardiovascular benefits and reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Unlike other cardio machines like the treadmill, the elliptical machine allows for effective upper body training. Moving the handles requires pumping the arm muscles. Of all the aerobic machines out there, this one offers the best opportunities for a full-body workout (regardless of your original fitness level).
Elliptical machines are suitable for individuals who have experienced leg trauma or a knee injury. The gliding motion is very low impact, which means that it doesn’t put burden on sensitive areas like the knees, the ankles and the lower back. Even if you have recently recovered from an injury, you can still do a gentle elliptical workout.
There are several other important health benefits that elliptical machines bring to the table. These include improved balance and coordination, a chance to target muscles that remain under-used when biking (the external hip muscles, for example), strengthening of the core and maximized endurance.
Tips for Buying an Elliptical Machine
Elliptical machines are not created equal. Based on your budget, your current fitness level and your future goals, you can do product comparisons and select the best machine.
If you’re not looking for the ultimate innovative elliptical machine, you’ll get a good option in the 200 to 900-dollar price range. People who want the best and most innovative elliptical machine should be prepared to spend at least 1,300 dollars on the purchase.
Once you’ve set the budget, you’ll need to examine some of the machine’s most prominent features. The first one is obviously size. Elliptical machines can be fit in a relatively small home gym. Luckily, there are multiple compact varieties and even foldable appliances. The length of elliptical machines can range from 50 to 85 inches. A smaller size doesn’t have to mean you’re making a compromise with convenience or the effectiveness of the workout.
Adjustable exercise intensity is the next essential. This is especially crucial for people who want to use the elliptical machine in the long run and the ones that are buying a piece of exercise equipment for the entire family.
A good elliptical machine should come with variable resistance. There should be a significant (yet incremental change) between one resistance setting and another. Machines that have numerous resistance settings give you more room for growth.
When it comes to resistance, you should always check the weight of the elliptical machine’s flywheel before buying. The higher the flywheel weight is, the better the performance of the machine will be. The standard for home gym equipment is 15 pounds but the weight could go up to 17 pounds or more.
There’s one more technical characteristic to examine and this technical characteristic is the quality of the brake system. An eddy current brake system relies on magnets. The use of magnets on the flywheel allows for easier adjustments and for a smoother transition.
Finally, you may want to explore a couple of high tech features. These include an LCD console that tracks multiple metrics, workout profiles allowing multiple people to set their fitness goals, workout tracking, connectivity with music players, wireless connectivity for data storage on a computer or a mobile device and preset workout programs.
Popular Elliptical Exercises
Now that we’ve taken a look at the benefits of an elliptical machine and how to choose the best one, let’s examine some of the popular exercises that can be done using the appliance.
If you want to get the best possible results from a brief workout session, you should consider a short interval workout. Such a workout lasts about 20 minutes, including the warmup and the cool down time. To get the most of the machine, you will need to switch between several intervals, each lasting about 10 to 15 seconds. Change from resistance in the four to seven range. A more challenging interval is followed by a cool down interval. This change in intensity works the heart and the muscles really hard.
The next logical option to try is a total body elliptical workout. Warm up for five minutes at a resistance level of three and SPM of 130 to 150. Next, do two minutes of exercise at a resistance of seven, three minutes at a resistance level of five (your recovery period) and three minutes at a resistance level of nine. Switch between the intensities for three minute periods several additional times. The workout should last for 30 to 40 minutes.
Using the elliptical machine, you can isolate different muscle groups, as well.
To shape up the butt, warm up at a slow pace and increase the resistance to start sweating for a period of 10 minutes. Next, consider pedaling backwards to target specifically the glutes. Changing the incline and the resistance level will also increase the burn and give you a shapely butt.
Finally, if you want a workout that targets the core muscles, you should start with a cardio interval. Break a sweat and get rid of the fat that covers the abdominal muscles. Next, increase the resistance and let go of the handles. Maintain your upright posture and keep a constant contraction in the abdominal muscles. Varying the intensity and the incline will once again give you a better idea about the specific movement that puts the biggest strain on the respective muscle group.
If your elliptical trainer comes pre-programmed with workout routines, you should definitely give those a try. Such routines are usually created by professionals and they aim to give you the best results within the shortest possible period of time.