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Is the Elliptical a Good Workout? – Know the Benefits

The elliptical is one of the most sought-after fitness equipment at the gym. It’s common to have people waiting in line to use them during peak workout hours. However, a close look at an elliptical before and after fitness routine shows why many fitness enthusiasts buy them for home use.

Elliptical machines are designed as stationary fitness machines to help users achieve running, walking, or stair climbing exercises. It’s an excellent alternative to outdoor walking and running exercises.

Is the elliptical a great workout machine? The article examines the benefits and possible drawbacks of elliptical machines.

Is the Elliptical a Good Workout

Benefits of an elliptical workout

Are elliptical machines good for workouts? A good elliptical training machine can help achieve both lower body workout and upper body workout. These are some of the top benefits of performing an elliptical workout.

Increase cardio capacity and stamina

Increase cardio capacity and stamina

Aerobic exercise is generally referred to as cardio in the fitness world. These exercises exert lots of pressure on the lungs and heart and play a crucial role in your cardiovascular health. During workout routines, the muscles need to be fed significant amounts of oxygen and blood.

Cardio or aerobic exercise causes the lungs and heart to pump and supply oxygen to the muscles. Therefore, when fitness enthusiasts engage in cardio, it increases the lungs and heart’s oxygen-carrying capacity and pumping abilities, respectively.

One of the primary functions of an elliptical machine is to provide cardio exercises. Its build and design allow for a full-body workout, causing the lungs and heart to hold and pump oxygen and blood continuously.

Increase cardio capacity and stamina

Cardio exercises on elliptical machines are proven to increase cardio capacity and general body stamina. An additional benefit is improved cardio capacity, stamina, blood flow, and reduced blood pressure.

A good way to burn calories

A good way to burn calories

For most fitness fanatics, unnecessary calories are the bane of their body’s existence. As a result, fitness fanatics are constantly looking for new ways and measures to burn off unwanted calories. It has been proven that basic aerobic workouts can result in calorie burn.

With the resistance levels, incline, and intensity features of modern elliptical machines, they are a sure way to burn calories. Since they are designed for apartment use, users can purchase and easily access these elliptical machines.

good way to burn calories

On average, an elliptical machine can burn anywhere from 200 to 500 calories in an hour.

Help track and monitor heart rate

Help track and monitor heart rate

One of the signs of good health is a healthy heart. Therefore, it’s always medically recommended to keep track of the heart rate and pulse.

Most ellipticals come with sensors that help monitor heart rate and pulse. These sensors are either located on the grip area of the handlebars or the accessory chest strap.

One important benefit of tracking and monitoring heart rate is for early detection and prevention of blood-related ailments like high blood pressure.

Low impact exercise

Low impact exercise

High-intensity exercises may have their usefulness and place, but there’s no denying they are susceptible to injuries. The intensity of the workout is sometimes dependent on the referent body weight values. Good examples of high-intensity workouts are running, jogging, or walking on a treadmill. Unfortunately, the required energy to exert these exercises can lead to injuries or worsen an old one. So it is important to know how to protect your knees while working out on an elliptical.

Low impact exercise

An elliptical machine provides a viable alternative in the form of low-impact exercises. It guarantees both upper and lower body workouts with minimal body exertion. In the end, this reduces the possibility of injuries to the bare minimum.

Full-body workout

Full-body workout

There is not much fitness equipment that can guarantee a full-body workout. However, with the build and design of an elliptical machine, users can develop and strengthen both the upper and lower body simultaneously. This is because it almost mimics the motion of riding on a stationary bike rather than just engaging in treadmill running.

Most elliptical exercise machines come with fixed and movable handlebars to improve upper body workout. The movable handlebars can be pushed or pulled together to create a balanced workout as the body exerts pressure on the elliptical foot pedal for a back and front motion.

A workout routine on an elliptical machine can target specific muscle areas of the body. These areas include the chest, glutes, triceps, biceps, hamstrings, back, core muscles, and quads.

Targeting leg muscles

Targeting leg muscles

Although it provides a low-impact workout, the design of an elliptical machine allows fitness fans to work on and target their leg muscles. These leg muscles are the glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quads.

Elliptical resistance levels can be adjusted to increase the intensity of the motion turning the flywheel. The foot pedals have a back and forward motion to help run and walk exercises.

By adjusting the incline (in an elliptical machine with that feature) and increasing the resistance level, more pressure is exerted to keep the flywheel moving. As users push down and up on the foot pedal, the muscles of the legs are well exercised.

Post-injury workout

Post-injury workout

Injuries are part of daily human living. Most of the time, performing workouts during or immediately after nursing injuries can worsen them. A good way to engage in workout routines that would not exert further stress and strain on the injury is to perform low-impact exercises.

Post-Injury Workout

Do ellipticals work? Ellipticals are ranked as some of the best low-impact, intense exercise workout equipment in the fitness world. Since low-impact workout routines do not stress the joints, people recovering from a joint-related injury can use them.

It is also a piece of great workout equipment for older people or those with bone-related ailments. An elliptical machine can also be used to restore motion to injured areas of the body.

Ease of use

Ease of use

One of the major characteristics of electrically powered fitness equipment is that most are cumbersome and a bit complicated to use. On the other hand, elliptical training exercises are pretty straightforward as the motion mimics running, walking, or stair climbing.

It’s easier to begin workout routines that focus on leg movement before including upper body workouts. Although it is easy to use, getting the needed rhythm for the foot pedal and handlebars simultaneously may take some time.

Most ellipticals come with pre-installed workout programs to guide users on personalized workout routines.

Is elliptical as good as running?

For most users, ellipticals make a great alternative to conventional running exercises. With the resistance and incline generated by the flywheel, the movement of the foot pedal and handlebars mimics running motion. Resistance levels and incline can be adjusted to increase or decrease running intensity.

Unless you’re a professional runner or have a preference for outdoor running, the elliptical can give the same running results. A major difference is that outdoor running offers different terrains to runners. However, an added advantage is that users are less susceptible to injuries.

Is elliptical as good as cycling?

Cycling is generally a low-impact workout exercise that puts less strain and stress on the body’s joints. Since ellipticals are built and designed to deliver the same low-impact workout, they are as good as other fitness cycling equipment.

Like outdoor running, terrain plays a major difference between outdoor cycling and elliptical workouts. However, outside this difference, ellipticals have the potential to offer the same results as cycling workouts.

How long should I use the elliptical?

Depending on the workout goal, the workout duration varies. For instance, with cardio workout equipment, workouts can be done for about 20-30 minutes daily for about five days a week.

Again, the workout period can be increased or decreased depending on the objective. What’s more important is ensuring the workout routines are tailored to individual preferences. To better achieve this, ellipticals come with workout programs and app integration options to help users.

Can the elliptical help with belly fat?

Ellipticals are primarily used for cardio workouts. They also help in a full-body workout. However, they are not designed to target the belly area. 

Although ellipticals may not directly be able to help with belly fat, but as full-body workout equipment, they can help burn body fat. The use of ellipticals and eating a low-calorie diet can help lose belly fat in the long run.

Drawbacks of the elliptical machine

Ellipticals may allow fitness enthusiasts to achieve running, walking, and cycling workouts, but the motion is not natural. In addition, for fitness enthusiasts, muscle memory helps prevent muscle fatigue and injury.

Muscles would have to adapt to the motion of the elliptical. As a result, muscle injury or bone and joint fractures could occur if workout routines are not properly done.

If the workout objective is muscle toning and increasing bone density, ellipticals are not the right fitness equipment to use. This is because ellipticals generally provide a low-impact workout. However, ellipticals seem to have an advantage as a piece of cardio workout equipment.


Undoubtedly, ellipticals have carved a niche for themselves in the fitness world. There are several notable benefits of using ellipticals at home or in the gym. First, as cardio workout equipment, ellipticals help improve fitness fanatics’ cardio capacity and stamina.

Improved cardio capacity and blood flow help improve the body’s blood circulation and lowers the possibility of experiencing high blood pressure. Ellipticals also give fitness fanatics a full-body workout and help burn calories and fat. 

While ellipticals can be excellent alternatives for running and cycling, they don’t do much, primarily to burn belly fat. However, in combination with low-calorie diets and workout programs, ellipticals can help burn calories and fat in the belly area and the body.

Most of the drawbacks of ellipticals center on the fact that muscles would need time to adapt to the motion of the machine. During this period, the body’s muscles and joints are susceptible to injuries and pains.

Matthew Fletcher

Matthew Fletcher

Matthew is a fully qualified fitness trainer specializing in weight management and strength training. He is a certified trainer with more than 15 years of training experience. He uses his technical know-how's with his passion for fitness to provide thoughtful curation of objective exercise equipment reviews. His insightful reviews will help you find the best fitness product for the price.

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