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How to Use an Elliptical Machine to Lose Weight – 15 Steps to A Full-Body Workout

how to use an elliptical machine to lose weight
Written by Thomas Bailey
Last Update: December 9, 2022

The elliptical machine is among the most common equipment in fitness centers as well as home gyms. This machine integrates the function of a stair stepper, a bike, and a ski cross-country simulator. The innovative design helps your legs move in an elliptical sequence while your arms push handles for a complete body workout. This low-impact equipment is pleasant on the joints, particularly on the knees, and is easy to use.

How to Use Elliptical Trainer – Step by Step

How to Use an Elliptical Trainer

Below you will find valuable info on how to make good use of your elliptical trainer for effective and beneficial workouts.

1. Get on Board

You must be cautious before stepping on the elliptical trainer. Proceed on the elliptical facing the screen. When you exercise, the pedals start moving spontaneously, so there is a possibility to lose your balance and stability. So watch out and hold the handlebars as you venture on the pedals. That will help you to keep your balance. Maintain the pressure off your feet. Pressing your whole weight on your toes will make your feet numb.

2. Align Your Feet

All elliptical machines have extremely large pedals. The additional space across your feet can improve comfort, but with all of the space, you may turn your feet the opposite way. Place your feet aligned to the sides of the pedals to prevent stretching your hips. The proper technique will prevent you from getting the pain and discomfort that can happen when the body is not in alignment.

3. Straighten Your Back

Try not to lean on the handrails. That will make the workout feel easier, but ultimately make it less effective. Standing straight should help you work on your core and abs while exercising on the elliptical trainer. Also, attempt not to rest too much on the handrails. Instead, lean back a little because your back will still be upright, and almost all of your weight will be on the pedals.

4. Position Your Arms

Your arms are supposed to move with the handlebars. Elliptical trainers generally have two pairs of handlebars. You can hold the fixed handlebars for stability or use the moveable handlebars for the workout of your upper body. Be sure to grab handlebars softly in both cases. The common error is to grab on too firmly. Push your shoulders back and forth. Bend the elbows a little to guarantee smooth movement.

5. Get Familiar With the Screen

Try to find the incline controls before starting your exercise and find out how to change the resistance. Most elliptical machines include a sticker or another tag on them with directions on how to start the device. Each machine is slightly different, so take a moment to get familiar with using the device before starting your training session. If you’re at the fitness center, they can have their directions and additional details about usage.

6. Make a Workout Plan Before You Start

Set the goal for your workout before you step onto the machine. Follow the screen instructions to choose one of the preconfigured training, or you might choose a tutorial and set up your custom workout. It is suggested to pedal in a forward direction because it is easier to control, it replicates real movement, and it isn’t as hard on the joints as reverse pedaling.

7. Start Pedaling to Switch It On

Start moving the pedals forward with your feet, and move the handles up and down evenly. That should turn on the display. If that does not switch the screen on, press the power button. To start pedaling, slightly bend your knees and maintain them bent over the whole movement pattern. As you proceed to pedal, your legs must move forward in an oval-shaped motion.

8. Start Accelerating at an Even Step

You need to move your arms with the handlebars when you begin to pedal. When the right foot is going down, the left handlebar should be pushed towards your body. Apply the same principle again for your left leg. Once you have found your rhythm, try keeping it for 20-30 minutes. Unless you do extremely high-intensity endurance training, you should strive for a minimum of 20 minutes.

9. Try Not to Bolt Your Knees

Keeping your knees straight makes the whole movement painful and unpleasant. When trying to straighten their legs, people bolt their knees incorrectly on each motion. That’s wrong, so you should maintain your knees bent slightly. Keeping your knees bent enables constant stress on the quads, which increases the benefits of reinforcing your muscles. It is equivalent to riding a bicycle without sitting down at all but with less movement up and down.

10. Apply Resistance

Speed will not always give good performance at the elliptical trainer. It is recommended to turn on resistance function frequently. That will help you drive the pedals more aggressively and achieve better muscle performance. The elliptical trainer you use could also have an incline function, so you should configure it as well. Remember that you will also transfer pressure to other muscles when you boost the incline.

11. Alter up Direction of the Pedals

The pedals of this workout machine can go backward. Going in the opposite direction enables superior workout varieties. That will help you to perform glutes and hamstring exercises. Besides, going backward works on some muscles which are not affected if doing forward steps. Be aware that backward pedaling is very challenging. It includes lots of tension on your knees, so remain alert and do not get injured.

12. Try to Use Movable Handlebars

Some elliptical machines include movable handlebars, while others feature fixed ones. The movable handlebars will offer you a complete body workout but will take a lot of pressure off your butt and legs. You may opt not to use the movable handlebars to engage in a more intense exercise of the lower body. That should involve greater awareness and balance of your posture.

13. Slowly Increase the Slope and Resistance According to Your Ability

Perform five-minute sessions and raise the incline and resistance and every time. Begin with a base intensity that appears comfortable but demanding. Do so for two minutes without changing the incline setting. Then raise your pace for another two minutes. Allow yourself to rest for one minute at a lighter pace, and then increase the resistance or incline and repeat the sequence. You might like to adjust this workout routine according to your fitness objectives.

14. Focus on the Monitor

Stay away from the distractions and focus entirely on the monitor. That will tell you how many calories you have burned, how many steps you have taken, and to what level you worked out. Your main concern should be to remain mindful of your body and change the direction if it is necessary to sustain the dynamic and efficient training.

15. Utilize Unique Features

Most elliptical trainers come with unique functions, and familiarizing yourself with them is indeed a great idea so you can integrate them into your exercise routine. Adding variety into your exercise routine is vital for consistent success, and the programs incorporated into the elliptical trainers will help make that achievable. Using programs such as hills, fat-burning, or interval workouts will help stimulate your body, so you’ll have full interest throughout the training session.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Elliptical Workout

To take full advantage of your elliptical workout sessions, you have to adjust them occasionally. Here’s a couple of tips to aid you in getting the most out of your elliptical exercises.

  • Learn about your elliptical trainer – Whether it is your machine or a preferred model at the fitness center, read the instructions to get to know the functionalities. Investigate customizable incline and stride, resistance levels of, and support options.
  • Change your movement – Add variety by moving in the opposite direction, putting your arms on the fixed handlebars while trying to isolate your legs, trying to add and decrease levels of resistance and accelerate and slowing down across all of your training sessions.
  • Define your goals – Strengthen your sense of achievement by completing a specific objective. Note your distance or time to achieve your goal, and try beating it next time.
  • Maximize efficiency – Choose from various elliptical programs or make your own, focusing on your objectives. To maximize your workout sessions, incorporate dumbbells, resistance bands, and similar accessories.


Using the elliptical trainer in your workout routine will help strengthen your lungs, heart, and muscles while enhancing stamina, increasing your balance, and burning lots of calories. It is also a fantastic choice if you have joint problems or want to build up or maintain your endurance after tissue damage.

Although this low-impact machine is a great option for most levels of fitness, other exercises should also be included in your workout if you are trying to strengthen your legs and develop bone density. That’s extremely crucial for runners and professional athletes.


1. Do Ellipticals Help Lose Belly Fat?

Ans. Elliptical machines offer a low-impact workout and enable you to utilize your hands. They also have a huge impact on your core muscles. The elliptical trainer will help you make less effort to burn a lot of calories. Your belly fat should magically disappear as long as you hold to your exercise and eat healthily.

2. How Long Is a Good Workout on an Elliptical?

Ans. Exercising 150 minutes with an elliptical machine each week is more than adequate to avoid excess weight and reduce the danger of disease. That implies that if you workout 30 minutes a day for five days, it is more than enough.

3. Is It Ok to Elliptical Every Day?

Ans. You should not use the elliptical machine every day as your body requires at least one day’s rest from workout every seven to ten days. If you do an elliptical exercise every day and add strength exercises, you face the risk of muscle fatigue.

4. How Long Should a Beginner Workout on an Elliptical?

Ans. Based on your objectives, you should focus on workouts around three to five times a week for 20 to 40 minutes as a beginner. Also, after each training, try to relax multiple muscle groups.

About the author

Thomas Bailey

A Gym Equipment Expert

I’m Thomas, a healthy guy as people often say. During the 90s when I frequented local gyms, I used to experience an issue that few people could tell knowledgeably when and which piece of equipment to use or work with for which specific part of the body. I won’t tell ‘nobody’ could, but there was lack of perfect guidelines and decisive mentorship when it comes to weightlifting, exercise, and bodybuilding. Since then, I spent so much of my time and patience in finding out the reality about the different tools, exercise units, and equipment that anybody would tell it was going to be my profession, but that’s not really going to happen. However, it has been my pursuit for half the decade. I help, guide, and talk to people who I come across. You’re welcome to take a look at my posts.

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