Fitness / Elliptical

Let’s Set These Elliptical Misconceptions Straight

If rumors of ineffectiveness have ever stopped you from using the machine, read this ASAP.

The elliptical machine gets a bad rep. It’s said to be too easy, ineffective, and boring compared to other cardio machines. The good news is that none of the above are true. To set the record straight on one of our favorite cardio machines, we’ve debunked these main elliptical misconceptions. Read on as we paint a different, more accurate picture of the elliptical machine.

Then, check out the fun, beat-based elliptical workouts available on the Aaptiv app.

It’s ineffective.

To be clear, performing any workout consistently will eventually render it less effective. That goes for the treadmill, weighted reps, and, yes, the elliptical. Still, this doesn’t mean the machine is completely ineffective. In fact, the elliptical is one of the most diverse machines when it comes to benefits and results. Studies have found that the elliptical can get your heart revving higher than the treadmill. Another study found that runners felt their legs were more tired after using the elliptical compared to a similar workout on the treadmill. This is because an elliptical workout causes greater activation in your glutes and thigh muscles than simply walking or running.

Elliptical workouts also engage your entire body. You work your core muscles to maintain balance and most machines include an arm push-pull component. Due to its low-impact nature, though, it’s the ideal machine to use for injury recovery. And for those suffering from sclerosis, elliptical workouts can actually improve fatigue.

All that said, if you’re simply looking to burn calories, the elliptical and treadmill are practically indistinguishable. If you feel like you’re working harder during your jogs, though, increase the resistance or incline on your elliptical. The key is making sure you work hard. You only get out what you put in.

It lacks variation.

People often overlook all the elliptical has to offer. It’s not all simply pedaling. There are endless modifications you can make for more challenging workouts. First, get well-acquainted with the machine. Try speed work and HIIT training to get your heart rate up in a short period of time. Add incline and resistance to target those legs and glutes. Work up and down hills to alleviate flat-road frustration. Try multidirectional work, too. Going backward will target different muscles than forward-only pedaling. Once you’re familiar with the machine and its controls, you’ll never be bored again. We recommend “Chorus Sprints” and “A Fun 21” for some speed work and interval training.

It’s for girls.

The assumption that any workout is for one gender or another is simply wrong. Cardiovascular fitness, as a whole, isn’t feminine (or masculine, for that matter). The elliptical machine is no exception. The machine offers a lot of incredible benefits from endurance training to a full body workout. It’s a perfect choice for men and women looking to increase their endurance or build up lower body strength with a high-resistance workout.

It isn’t necessary for your routine.

The elliptical may never be everyone’s first choice. But there’s certainly a place for it in every type of workout routine. It’s low impact so it’s ideal for those coming off an injury or those with chronic knee problems. It burns as many calories as a treadmill so it can be a versatile cardio change-up, as needed. On another note, it provides safety and stability when compared to other activities like running on the treadmill. For any new gym-goers intimidated or nervous about trying a different cardio machine, the elliptical is easy to get going.

And Aaptiv can also help you get started. We’ve got classes with audio clues that will have you sweating on the elliptical like a pro in no time!

Whether you’re looking to improve your endurance, strengthen your legs and core, or get in a workout that doesn’t sacrifice your joints, the elliptical should be your go-to cardio machine. Don’t let these elliptical misconceptions keep you from a quality workout.

Elliptical Fitness


Welcome to the guidebook to your healthiest life. Aaptiv delivers the highest quality fitness and health information from personal trainers and industry experts. Subscribe now for a weekly dose of inspiration and education.

I would like to receive weekly fitness articles and inspiration from Aaptiv Magazine.

Please click the checkbox to subscribe.