An elliptical machine provides a low-impact, cardio, calorie-burning workout. The more calories you burn, the more likely you are to create a daily calorie deficit, which aids in fat burning. When you use more calories than you eat, fat loss can occur. During elliptical exercises, when your body needs additional calories, it uses oxygen to convert fat into fuel. The stationary elliptical workout machine only moves in a forward and backward direction, yet you can vary how you do your exercise sessions to increase the calorie-burning benefits.
Keep It Steady With Steady-State Exercise
Steady-state aerobic training on the elliptical is an efficient calorie-burning exercise. Steady-state exercise on the elliptical requires that you select a pace and a resistance level that you can maintain for the duration of your workout. The intensity level should cause sweating, yet you should be able to breathe without gasping for air. Try to maintain this pace for 30 to 60 minutes. You can work up to this time incrementally if needed. The longer you exercise, the more calories you burn. Aim to exercise at an intensity level that elevates your heart rate between 55 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age.
Add in Interval Exercise
Interval training is a type of exercise that uses your body's two energy systems to increase the calorie-burning benefits. Instead of remaining at the same pace and resistance throughout the elliptical workout, separate it into segments of high intensity followed by intervals of low intensity. You can select the interval program on the elliptical or change the intervals on your own. For example, begin at a resistance level of four and maintain a moderate pace for one to three minutes. Then, increase the resistance level to 10 and increase to a sprint pace or one that elevates your heart rate to between 80 and 90 percent of your maximum. Maintain this high-intensity interval an equal or longer duration before returning to the low-intensity interval. Continue cycling through the intervals for your total workout time. Aim to spend longer times at the high-intensity intervals to burn more overall calories.
High-intensity interval exercises take traditional intervals to higher calorie-burning levels. When your heart rate elevates to near maximum levels, you increase the overall number of calories used to perform the exercise. High-intensity intervals are based on increasing intensity rather than on the time you spend working out. For example, increase the resistance to make pushing down on the pedals more difficult. At the same time, increase your speed to a level that elevates your heart rate near maximum. Maintain this pace as long as possible and then decrease the resistance and speed to recover. Remain at the low-intensity interval only long enough to catch your breath and then repeat the high-intensity interval. Begin with a 15-minute workout and gradually increase the duration.
Variety in Exercises Is the Spice
Your calorie-burning elliptical workouts also benefit from adding variety to your exercises. Use the handles to increase the calorie-burning benefits and elevate your heart rate. The way you move the handles changes which muscles are worked and increases the number of muscle fibers used. When more muscles are used, your heart rate elevates and you burn more calories. For example, push the handles to contract your chest muscles and triceps or pull the handles to exercise your back muscles and biceps. You can also keep your hands off the bars to add a balance challenge to your workout, increasing the use of your core muscles. When you tire of moving forward, reverse the direction of the elliptical and pedal backward to switch the muscle focus from your thighs to your butt.
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