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How to Workout On Elliptical to Lose Weight

An elliptical is an exercise machine that allows the user to burn plenty of calories at any given time. While working out regularly on an elliptical increase strength and stamina and promise great weight loss, weight loss doesn't occur often.

In fact, many trainees were disappointed with their weight loss after using ellipticals for some time. But are the ellipticals to blame, or there is some other issue responsible for the lack of weight loss?

Updated: June 26, 2023.

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 Elliptical vs Other Exercise Machines

Ellipticals are often compared with stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, treadmills, and rowers in terms of burned calories, increasing strength, stamina, and overall effect on the human body.

The fact is that if You are preparing yourself, for example, for a rowing event, Your best bet is to row on both boat and rower. Similarly, if You want to prepare yourself for running, the treadmill is better than the elliptical, and for cycling events, go for bikes. Plain and simple.

However, if You are looking for general fat loss and full-body workouts, the elliptical offer many benefits over other exercise machines, including:

  • more muscles worked: when working out on an elliptical, the whole body works out.
  • zero impact workout: all motions are smooth, with no impacts on joints, especially not on the knees, hips, and ankles.
  • calorie burn on elliptical ranges from 3 to 8+ calories per kg of body weight per hour of exercise. This is similar to the calorie burn on other exercise machines, but since the whole body is used, actual stress per muscle group is lower, allowing the user to exercise longer, etc.

For example, if a 100kg athlete works out on an elliptical with high intensity, it burns ~800 kcal per hour, and that is a lot.

Since 1 kg of fats equals 9000 kcal and 1 kg of fat tissue equals ~7500 kcal, that means that the athlete in this example is able to burn an extra 24000 kcal per month, which equals the fat loss of ~3.2 kg (~7 pounds) per month, just from the elliptical exercise.

However, not even that is enough to cause fat loss in some trainees. People ask - why?

Weight Is Lost In The Kitchen, Not On An Elliptical

On average, a daily calorie intake required just for the maintenance is a person's weight in pounds x 10.

For example, a 100 kg athlete needs:

(100 kg / 0.453) x 10 = ~2200 kcal

~2200 kcal just for keeping the body working. Now, add to this everyday physical activities and the required energy goes up.

Note: this is just a very simple method used to calculate the required daily calorie intake. This method doesn't take into account body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph), gender, age, BF%, etc.

Some people require up to 1000-2000, sometimes even more kcal than their base calories, just to keep the weight on. And on the other hand, some people have very efficient metabolism and require very few calories to do the same job/exercise.

So, if You want to lose weight, it is important to adjust your daily calorie intake to match your goals - for example, if Your goal is to lose one kilogram per week (~2 pounds per week, a very realistic goal), Your daily calorie deficit must be:

7500 kcal / 7 = ~1100 kcal

Note: it is not the same for 100 pounds or 100kg person to lose constantly 1 kg per week. Also, when going on any kind of diet, consult your doctor first. Better safe than sorry.

1100 kcal daily deficit is a serious calorie deficit and should not be taken for granted.

In order to achieve such weight loss, one must combine proper nutrition and regular exercise, if possible on the elliptical, but also don't forget other activities like walking, cycling, going to the gym, and similar. All those activities burn extra calories and help with fat loss.

For example, one may combine a daily calorie deficit of 700 kcal with an additional 400 kcal burned on an elliptical for a total of 1100 kcal daily deficit.

And burning 400 kcal per day while exercising is much easier than 1100 kcal. Also, having a calorie daily deficit (from a calorie intake when the user doesn't gain nor lose weight) of 700 kcal is much easier to sustain for a longer period of time than the calorie daily deficit of 1100 kcal.

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Does Elliptical Work Abs?

Using an elliptical trainer, you can indeed work your abs, but it's not the most direct or intensive way to do so.

The abs, specifically the core muscles, are engaged during the elliptical workout to stabilize your body, maintain your posture, and balance the movement. To maximize the engagement of the abs while using an elliptical, you can:

  • Engage Your Core: Consciously tighten your abs while keeping your back straight and your body upright.
  • No Hands: If it's safe to do so, try using the machine without holding the handles. This requires more balance and stability, thus engaging your core more intensively.
  • Interval Training: Incorporate periods of high-intensity workouts where you're pushing hard, followed by periods of low-intensity or rest. The increased intensity can help to engage your core more.

Remember, though, that while the elliptical can contribute to overall calorie burning and cardio, if your primary goal is to strengthen your abs, you would likely benefit from incorporating targeted abdominal and core strength training exercises into your routine, such as planks, crunches, leg raises, and similar.

But, for visible abs, do your cardio regularly while focusing on proper nutrition.

Is Elliptical Good For Knees? How To Protect Knees On Elliptical?

Yes, the elliptical is typically a good choice for those with knee concerns because it's a low-impact exercise.

The foot pedals on an elliptical machine move in a smooth, elliptical motion, which mimics the natural path of the ankle, knee, and hip joints during walking, running, or jogging.

This design is intended to minimize the impact on the joints, making it a popular choice for those with knee pain or past injuries.

However, it's still essential to use the elliptical machine correctly to protect your knees. Here are some tips:

  • Correct Posture: Keep your back straight, head up, and do not lean heavily on the handles. Leaning can put excess pressure on your knees and decrease the effectiveness of the workout.
  • Adjust the Resistance and Incline: Start with low resistance and incline until you are comfortable. Too much resistance or incline can put unnecessary strain on your knees.
  • Proper Foot Position: Make sure your feet are properly positioned on the pedals. They should be flat and facing forward.
  • Don't Lock Your Knees: Keep a slight bend in your knees throughout the elliptical motion.
  • Warm-Up and Cool Down: It's important to warm up before getting on the elliptical and cool down afterward to prevent injury and allow your muscles to acclimate to the exercise.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel any knee pain while on the elliptical, stop and consult a healthcare professional.

Remember, everyone's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new workout routine, especially if you have pre-existing knee conditions.

Why Do My Feet Go Numb On The Elliptical?

Feet going numb while using the elliptical is a common issue that could be due to a few reasons:

  • Improper Footwear: The type of shoes you're wearing could cause your feet to go numb. Shoes that are too tight can restrict blood flow, while shoes that are too loose can cause your feet to slide and create friction. Or, you can try to go bare foot on your elliptical and try it out.
  • Pedal Pressure: Constant pressure on the balls of your feet can compress the nerves, leading to numbness or tingling. Try to make sure that your entire foot is making contact with the pedal, not just the ball of your foot.
  • Motion and Positioning: If your feet are in the same position for an extended period of time, it could potentially lead to numbness. Try to occasionally move your feet around on the pedals or even pause briefly to step off and flex your feet if needed.
  • Overexertion: If you're working out at a high intensity for a prolonged period, you might be overexerting yourself, which can also lead to numbness. It could be helpful to lower your intensity or take short breaks.
  • Neuromuscular Issues: For some people, numbness in the feet can indicate a neuromuscular issue, such as a pinched nerve. If the numbness continues or is accompanied by pain, it's a good idea to consult a healthcare professional.

If your feet continue to go numb despite trying these strategies, you should consider seeking medical advice. This could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires professional treatment.

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Long Story Short: So, if You want to lose weight, with or without an elliptical, start with the kitchen and your nutrition.

An elliptical can help, but no workout can outrun bad nutrition...

But, ellipticals also can help you burn a ton of calories and can speed up the process, helping you achieve your desired goal much faster.

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