The elliptical is often used for warming up before the actual the gym workout. However, there are many other benefits of the elliptical that are often disregarded. It helps you enhance your endurance, burn fat and lose weight quickly.
In today’s article we will get to the bottom of what it needs to lose weight with the elliptical. Here you will receive a step-by-step guide with all the useful information you need for the weight loss process. Have fun! 😉
What Does an Elliptical Do for Your Body?
Basically, the movement on an elliptical comes closest to walking or running at a leisurely pace. However, the gliding, almost floating movement not only looks cooler if you ask me but is also much easier on the joints and healthier.
The reason for this is that, unlike going for a run, we don’t have to deal with impact forces when our feet hit the ground. Actually, when you are running, your joints are subjected to 3-4 times your own body weight with every step.
Especially with overweight people, this impact load often leads to knee pain. With the elliptical, on the other hand, this load is eliminated because the feet are in constant contact with the pedals and glide through the movement.
In addition, the motion pattern on the elliptical is more complete, i.e. more muscle groups are used. If the handlebars are used correctly (we will come to that in a moment), not only the legs are worked out, but also the entire trunk and even the arms. For a piece of exercise equipment that is actually intended for cardio, this is quite impressive! 😉
Does the Elliptical Help You Lose Weight?
The elliptical is a cardio machine. However, as I have just mentioned, a lot of muscles are used as well. The exact number of activated muscle groups depends on many, sometimes individual, factors, but I can tell you that up to 85% of your muscles can be targeted with the elliptical.
This combination of endurance and strength training is particularly effective if you’re aiming to burn fat and lose weight. Concerning the strength part: You won’t build (a lot of) muscle, but rather work on your strength endurance – so you won’t be the next big bodybuilder when just working out on the elliptical.
To answer this question briefly and concisely: Can you lose weight with the elliptical? Yes, the elliptical offers a very effective combination of strength and endurance training that helps you lose weight quickly.
If that answer is not enough for you, I’m going to present you some numbers now.😉
How Many Calories Do You Burn on the Elliptical?
To give you an idea of the calories burned on an elliptical, I would like to tell you about my own experiences. I am a 6 foot, 180 pounds guy. After a 60-minute workout on the elliptical, I have normally burned about 700 calories.
You still can’t really imagine how much that is? Of course, the exact caloric output depends on your own body weight, age and many other factors. The exact calculation of the burned calories is extremely complex and requires numerous variables.
In order to give you a better understanding of the amount of calories burned, I have prepared a small table with rough estimates for the calories burned per hour at different activities:
As a further rule of thumb, you could take this: In order to burn 2 pounds of fat, one must burn approximately 7000 calories. With my calorie consumption, this would mean that I would have to exercise for about 10 hours on the elliptical to achieve this goal. That would be 3 times a week for 3-4 weeks.
If you think to yourself at this point “2 pounds in just under a month – that’s not that much”, then you should consider that I’m only talking about burning fat. However, losing 2 pounds of fat is not the same as losing 2 pounds of weight, because the latter also involves a lot of water and other substances in our body.
Especially overweight people can lose a lot more weight at the beginning of the weight loss process. So, the elliptical is always effective for losing weight! 😉 In order for this to work out as quickly as possible, you should consider a few basic things. Now let’s take a quick look at the most important aspects of the elliptical workout.
Tips for Losing Weight with an Elliptical
The Proper Form
When I look at the majority of the gym-goers on the elliptical, I get a bad feeling. The reason for this is that I unfortunately see it again and again that people don’t use the elliptical with the proper form and correct posture. However, this is not only an absolute prerequisite for achieving any fitness goals on this piece of exercise equipment, but really for all exercises in general.
A typical example is that people are slouching, reading a book or looking at the smartphone placed on the display of the elliptical. This leads to a very unhealthy, and unnatural body posture, which in the long run can lead to severe back pain and also makes us fatigue more quickly. And this will have an impact on how quickly you are going to lose weight.
In addition, many people think it is better not to grab the handlebars tightly because they fear that this makes it too easy for us. But the opposite is the case! You should even grab the handlebars very firmly. Especially the torso and arm muscles are stressed much more and more calories can be burned in this way.
It is also important that the entire foot rests on the pedals and not just the tips of the feet, as you unfortunately see far too often.
Basically, you should pay attention to maintain an upright posture! Especially the pelvis should be directed forward and not tilted to the side.
With a little practice, you will soon get a feeling for what it takes to work out properly on the elliptical. In general, the following always applies: Listen to your body. If the workout leads to strong pain or you feel uncomfortable, you should check your posture and if in doubt, take a break.
The Heart Rate
Our heart rate plays a crucial role in any type of exercise we engage in. At a certain heart rate, the body prefers to use the fat reserves, while in other zones it tends to rely on sugars and phosphates. Basically, it is said that a heart rate in the range between 60 and 70% of the maximum heart rate, in perfect for burning fat.
Please note: From the first minute of your workout on, you will burn calories. The only difference is how the body obtains energy, which does not impact the weight loss process.
However, the heart rate still plays an important role! In a way, the heart rate serves as a navigation system, which sends us signals again and again whether we are on the right track or not. We can then increase the intensity of our workout accordingly. Of course, this depends on our individual exercise goals.
Interval training has generally proven to be particularly effective for losing weight with the elliptical. You simply vary between high-intensity exercise (70-80% of the maximum heart rate) and low-intensity recovery periods (50-60% of the HRmax). This is a great challenge for your body and really gets the fat burning process going! And the weight loss can begin! 😉
Here is a short overview of the effects of working out in different heart rate zones:
Recovery Zone (50-65% HRmax)
Slowly getting used to exercise (beginners), stabilizes the cardiovascular system
Weight Control Zone (60-70% HRmax)
Improves general endurance, increases aerobic metabolism, reduces blood pressure, boosts fat metabolism, accelerates recovery
Aerobic Zone (70-80% HRmax)
Increases endurance, improves cardiovascular system/general physical condition, increases maximal oxygen uptake (V02 max)
Anaerobic Zone (80-90% HRmax)
Increases maximum performance capacity, e.g. preparation for a marathon (increases the anaerobic threshold), hypertrophy (growth) of the heart muscle
The Most Important Factor for Weight Loss
Although this is the last item on our list, it should be at the top of your priority list. Without it, you cannot lose weight with an elliptical or any other exercise machine.
Actually, the process of losing weight is based on simple math. If this topic already makes your blood run cold, don’t worry: It is really easy for everyone to understand and implement. 😉
You can only lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume. It does not matter what and when you eat, as long as you have a so-called calorie deficit, you will lose weight. An Englishman once took it to the extreme and decided to just eat donuts the whole day: The result of his 4-week donut diet? He lost 13 pounds! How is that possible?
Well, he had an extremely unhealthy diet, but overall he consumed fewer calories than he burned. Please don’t get me wrong. I really don’t recommend a donut-only diet to anyone! On the contrary, your diet should be as balanced as possible.
However, I would like to make it clear that losing weight only depends on the difference between the calories burned and those consumed. And this is actually relatively logical: We consume calories to supply the body with energy. Once these energy quantities are used up, the body has to do something else: It draws on our stored fat reserves. This way, fat burning is stimulated and the bottom line is that we lose weight.
Our body has a certain basic energy requirement, i.e. an amount of calories that is used solely to maintain vital body functions or in other words the energy that is needed to keep the body alive. On top of that, there are the calories that we burn during the day due to our activities. For example, using the stairs instead of the elevator will increase our daily caloric output.
Even more calories will be burned during a workout on an elliptical, which, as we have just seen, is extremely effective!
If this adds up to a total caloric output of 2500 calories, while at the same time we only consume 2200 calories through food and drinks, we are going to lose weight! 😉
However, you should not become too overzealous, because a too big calorie deficit is not very healthy for our body either. In addition, choosing a very large calorie deficit is one of the main reasons for the well-known yoyo effect that appears very frequently after a diet.
For a long-term, healthy diet for losing weight, you should start with a calorie deficit of 200-400 calories.
Take It Slow
Especially at the beginning of the elliptical exercise, you might get overzealous. I can absolutely understand that and I have made exactly this mistake many times before. Nevertheless, I can tell you that it is very important to give your body breaks. The real progress we make is not during the workout, but in the recovery period during the rest days.
When building muscle, for example, tiny muscle tears occur during the workout. These are repaired and rebuilt by the body during the recovery period and ultimately come back stronger. Simply put, this is how building muscle works.
During a cardio workout, like on the elliptical, we mainly work out our heart muscle. However, the principle just explained applies in the same manner.
So: Give your body a break and it will pay you back! In the beginning, two or three 30-45-minute sessions per week are completely sufficient. You can increase the number of workout days or the intensity of the workouts gradually. Here too, however, always listen to your body. 😉
The Best Elliptical Machines for Losing Weight
Meanwhile, you have become a real expert when it comes to using the elliptical and what is required to lose weight… So basically, you’re ready to go, right? Wait a minute, there is still one thing missing: The right elliptical machine. It is very important to understand and internalize the basics of working out with an elliptical, and yet it is just as important to choose a good machine.
Above all, an elliptical should be of high quality and durable, and not let you down after just a few months. Since the fitness industry is flooded with products and therefore more and more cheap, low-quality goods are entering the market as well, I’ll have two recommendations for you now that stand out from the crowd.
The Nautilus E628 is one of the most popular elliptical trainers. And as you’ll see in a moment, there’s a good reason for that.
This elliptical machine is really convincing in every respect. The flywheel weight of 30 pounds is heavy enough and allows for a workout that is very easy on the joints and that provides a very smooth and natural movement.
Furthermore, you can choose between 29 individual training programs including preset programs for heart rate training, interval training and specific weight loss workouts. This machine is suitable for beginners and advanced and especially if your goal is to lose weight, this one will be a good choice.
Some people may be concerned about the purchase price. I can only say that it is advisable to think long term. Since this elliptical is extremely high-quality and durable, it will probably not let you down even after many years. This in turn makes it cheaper in the long run than having to buy a new $200 model every year. In addition, this Nautilus elliptical provides you with a workout of the highest level right from the start and opens all doors for you.
But for now, this is just my personal view on things. If you’d like to know more about this specific Elliptical, you can take a closer look at it here.
The Schwinn 430i elliptical is another great elliptical machine. Here, too, you have a piece of equipment that is one the most popular ones. In general, Schwinn is almost always a good choice when it comes to exercise machines.
This one comes along with a variety of different training programs as well, 22 to be precise. It is suitable for beginners and advanced and in my opinion, it’s definitely worth taking a look at if you want to lose weight. You can find all further information here.
Final Thoughts on Losing Weight with an Elliptical
So what can we conclude? First of all: Yes, you can lose weight with an elliptical. Depending on the person and the intensity of the workout, around 600-800 calories are burned per hour, which is slightly higher than comparable activities such as running.
However, in addition to the actual workout routine, recovery and above all the diet play an important role as well. For maximum effectiveness you should also pay attention to the correct posture and heart rate. Interval training is a perfect way of burning fat fast.
I hope I could help you with this article. If you still have further questions or would like to share your own elliptical weight loss experiences, do not hesitate to contact me.
Otherwise, have fun and success with the elliptical now! 😉