Fitness / HIIT

How to Perform HIIT On The Elliptical

Here’s how we apply high-intensity interval training to this versatile machine.

When most people think of HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, one of two things comes to mind: bodyweight workouts or the treadmill. Either will give you an incredible workout, but don’t be quick to count out other machines—namely, the elliptical. This cardio machine has what it takes to give you a full-body workout without shocking your joints, making it ideal for HIIT. Read on for some tips to taking it up a notch with HIIT on the elliptical.

Then try HIIT on the elliptical for yourself with Aaptiv classes.

Form First

Before we hop on and get going, let’s talk form. Applying HIIT to any machine or set of equipment requires good balance and even better form. You’ll be less likely to overwhelm your mind and body and thus less prone to injury. Before trying HIIT on the elliptical, be aware that the pedals will immediately start to move. This is normal! To avoid being thrown off-balance, get a good grip on the handlebars before you step on. Plant your feet in a comfortable place on the pedals (you’ll notice they’re huge, which makes them more comfortable). Now make sure they’re parallel to the edges. This will prevent any extra strain on your hips.

Now that you’re in the saddle, so to speak, straighten your back (avoiding both overarching and hunching), tuck in your abs, push your pelvis slightly forward, and keep your chin up. From here, choose a set of handlebars—stationary or moving—and lightly grasp them, keeping your elbows bent. Now you’re ready to get moving.

How to Perform HIIT On the Elliptical

While the elliptical is easier on your body than other styles of exercise (collective sigh of relief), it’s still just as impactful. Those recovering from an injury, getting back into fitness, or looking for a switch-up waste no time getting into the swing (er, pedal) of things while using this machine. Here’s how we do HIIT on the elliptical.

Increase your speed.

The most notable aspect of high-intensity interval training is, well, the intense interval work. When it comes to cardio machines, this most often translates to speed. “High-intensity interval training elevates the heart rate for a period of time and reduces the heart rate during short rest periods,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kelly Chase. “These constant changes provide a greater calorie burn, improving the performance and endurance of the user [and] giving them a better-quality workout.” In other words, adjusting the intensity (in this case, speed) throughout your workout constantly forces your body to work extra-hard and then recover quickly, repeatedly.

Varying the speed is easy to achieve on the elliptical. Push those pedals even faster during higher-intensity moments. You’ll instantly increase your calorie burn. Moreover, because of the machine’s low-impact nature, picking up the pace won’t tear up your joints. Your feet never leave the pedals, so there’s no jarring impact.

Test your speed with an Aaptiv elliptical class today.

Add resistance.

The elliptical is designed to involve resistance. It requires your body to overcome an opposing force. The higher the resistance, the more it feels like you’re pedaling through water. Much like speed, switching up the resistance throughout a routine means your body has to work harder and adapt. While this is happening, your heart rate increases and decreases, upping your calorie burn. “Doing HIIT on the elliptical increases your heart rate when you’re increasing speed as well as when you increase your resistance,” Chase says.

Not only that, but it also turns your elliptical workout into a double threat by throwing strength training into the mix. The elliptical already hits your hamstrings, glutes, and deep core muscles. Adding resistance makes it even more impactful. “Pushing against heavier resistances improves one’s overall endurance while strengthening not only the lower body but the core as well,” Chase explains. Your core burn takes another hike when you push against the resistance on the moving handlebars. We’ll touch on that in a bit. “When one continuously changes speed and resistance during the elliptical workout, they are getting a higher calorie burn,” Chase says. Varying these two settings challenges your endurance, tests your strength, and improves your workouts.

Ready to add some resistance into the mix? Aaptiv can help.

Utilize every part.

Looking to use HIIT on the elliptical to further switch up your routine and confuse your body? Cross-training is easy because most ellipticals are equipped with moving handlebars. Pumping away at these throughout a workout allows you to work your upper and lower body simultaneously. Your core gets an extra hit because it’s responsible for keeping you balanced and making sure you use each of your limbs correctly. For a better arm workout, put more emphasis on pushing the handlebars than pedaling. This gives your arms more responsibility.

On the other hand, most elliptical trainers give you the ability to stride in reverse. This activates different muscle groups than regular pedaling, specifically by putting more focus on your quads. Alternate between forward and backward to hit every leg muscle in one workout.

Try multidirectional elliptical class on Aaptiv.

Fitness HIIT


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