Elliptical trainers are a gym favorite. Not only is this cardio machine joint friendly, it's incredibly versatile. You can go forward and backward, work your arms and legs, or focus on your core — all while getting your heart rate up. Here are some tips to help you maximize your minutes on the elliptical machine.
- If your focus is cardio: Watch your strides per minute. SPM is the number of times your legs go around in 60 seconds, a stat most ellipticals conveniently track for you. After warming up, aim to keep your strides per minute between 140 and 160. If you're doing intervals on the elliptical, make sure your "sprints" are above 160. Here's a great elliptical workout with sprint intervals so you can start practicing this technique.
- If your focus is toning your thighs: Pay attention to your feet. Pressing more with your heels will work your hamstrings and butt more, while pressing more with your toes will tone your quads on the front of your thighs. Pedaling backward on the machine is also a great way to tone your backside — hamstrings and glutes. Increasing the incline is another way to focus the work on your glutes. Do try this 35-minute workout that truly targets the backside.
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- If you're short on time: Use your arms and legs equally. To get more bang for your cardio buck, make sure to work your upper body along with your legs. This will help raise your heart rate into an intense, calorie-burning zone and tone your upper body too. Push the handles to work your chest and pull the handles to work your upper back and shoulders. Follow this full-body workout next time you're on the elliptical.
- To work your core: Go hands free. Letting go of the handles on the elliptical challenges your sense of balance and targets your core. Make sure not to sway from side to side once you let go of the handles. Place your hands on your hips to monitor your posture.