These are some tips on how to best use your elliptical to get the most out of your workout.
- Adopt a comfortable standing position with your spine in a neutral position (with a straight back).
- Your hips, knees and ankles should be in alignment.
- Keep your shoulders back, your head up and your abdominal muscles tight.
- Let your lower body support your weight.
- Your weight should be distributed approximately evenly between the heels and the balls of the feet, sitting a little back on your heels.
- Stick your butt out as much as you can. This will target your butt, outer thigh and hamstring muscles and lessen the strain on your quadriceps. This will avoid building big muscular thighs.
- To keep your feet and toes from tingling, place them in close to the inside edge of the pedals. Focus your weight on the heels of your feet, not your toes. Running on your toes will reduce the blood flow and cause a tingly, numbing sensation. Use your feet as you would if you were walking on a regular surface: start with the heel, roll on downwards to the middle of your foot and end with your toes.
- Ease your hand grip and keep your arms relaxed. Maintain a good stride by using your natural range of motion. If the handlebars feel unnatural or out of reach, let go, place your arms by your sides and swing your natural swing. Remember to maintain a straight back posture.
Targeting areas of your workout
- If your focus is cardio: Pay attention to your strides per minute (SPM). SPM is the number of times your legs go around. The elliptical trainer shows this number on the screen. If you can, try to keep to between 140 and 160 strides per minute. If you are doing interval training on the elliptical trainer, make sure your sprints are closer to 160 strides per minute.
- If your focus is toning your thighs: Concentrate on your feet. If you press down with your heels, you will work your hamstrings and bottom more. If you press with your toes, you will tone your quadriceps muscles (front of your thighs) more.
- By not holding onto the handlebars, you should definitely feel the burn in your core, trunk and legs.
- To target the calf and gluteus, shorter strides should be used.
- To target the hamstrings, longer strides are optimal.
- Higher resistance results in increased peak force in all muscle groups, with added demand on the upper body.