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If weight loss is on your list of fitness goals, you’re probably looking for a good workout plan that can maximize your effort. After all, no one wants to spend hours on a cardio machine. The good news is that even quick, 15-minute elliptical workouts can help change your body composition, as long as you’re consistent.

It is worth reiterating that weight loss is largely dependent on what you’re eating. As much as you try, exercise will not take the place of good nutrition. Other factors also play a major role, including sleep quality and quantity, stress management, and hydration.

That being said, these elliptical workouts for weight loss can increase your energy output (and your overall health) to help get you closer to where you want to be.

Benefits of Ellipticals

Elliptical machines provide all the benefits of a cardio workout, like improved cardiac output, better functioning of your circulatory system, and increased cardiorespiratory endurance

Regular cardio exercise also lowers blood pressure and decreases blood lipids—two things that can drop your risk of developing heart disease

But the benefits of ellipticals go beyond these foundational perks.

Low-Impact Exercise

One of the biggest draws of an elliptical trainer is that it’s a low-impact workout

“Because your feet don’t come off the pedals, it puts less impact on your joints than other types of cardio exercise, like running,” says Amanda Capritto, certified personal trainer, health coach, and GGR editor. 

“This reduces the risk of injury and makes it more accessible to anyone dealing with joint pain or any issues that may limit the types of exercise they can do,” she explains. 

Exerpeutic Elliptical being used

Full-Body Workout

Many of the best ellipticals have movable arms that turn elliptical training into a full-body workout. When actively using your arms and legs, you engage your lower body (glutes, quads, and hamstrings) as well as the major muscle groups in your upper body. Standing upright and balancing on the machine also gets your core involved.

Improves Balance

Ellipticals engage your core, which can help improve your balance and stability over time. You can maximize this benefit by checking your posture and making sure you’re not leaning your weight onto the handlebars as you move.

3 Elliptical Workouts for Weight Loss

Any type of elliptical workout can help with weight loss and fat-burning (assuming you’re also paying attention to your diet and lifestyle), but here are three workout routines that optimize your time and caloric output.

15-Minute Elliptical Workout for Beginners 

This quick elliptical workout is an excellent starting point for beginners, but it can be done at any fitness level when you’re short on time.

TimeResistance LevelPedal Direction
5 minutes3.0Forward
5 minutes7.0Forward
5 minutes5.0Forward

32-Minute HIIT Workout on an Elliptical

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get your heart rate pumping without spending a ton of time tied to a cardio machine. 

using horizon ex59 elliptical

“While steady-state cardio can certainly help you meet your weight loss goals, HIIT burns more calories in less time,” says Amanda. “And when you do it on an elliptical, you’re still getting a low-impact exercise that’s effective, yet easier on your joints.

Here’s a 32-minute HIIT elliptical workout to get you started. For the entire workout, your resistance level should be set at 5.0 and you should pedal forward.

  • 3 minutes (6 rounds): 15-second sprint (90% or above effort); 15-second recovery (10 to 30% effort) 
  • 5 minutes (5 rounds): 30-second sprint (90% or above effort); 30-second recovery (10 to 30% effort) 
  • 6 minutes (4 rounds): 45-second sprint (90% or above effort); 45-second recovery (10 to 30% effort)
  • 4 minutes (2 rounds): 60-second sprint (90% or above effort); 60-second recovery (10 to 30% effort)
  • 6 minutes (4 rounds): 45-second sprint (90% or above effort); 45-second recovery (10 to 30% effort)
  • 5 minutes (5 rounds): 30-second sprint (90% or above effort); 30-second recovery (10 to 30% effort) 
  • 3 minutes (6 rounds): 15-second sprint (90% or above effort); 15-second recovery (10 to 30% effort) 

4-Minute Tabata Elliptical Workout

Tabata, which is common in CrossFit programming, is a form of HIIT that incorporates shorter, but more intense sprints. It’s a good option when you’re short on time or to add to other types of exercise.

When following this workout, you’ll go through 8 rounds, at 2 rounds per minute: 

  • 20 seconds pedaling at a hard pace (80 to 90% of full effort)
  • 10-second rest 

You can add additional rounds to make this a longer workout, but make sure you’re giving yourself some time to cool down and recover in between each 4-minute cycle. A good rule of thumb is to rest for 2 minutes after every 4-minute cycle. 

FAQs About Elliptical Workouts for Weight Loss 

Are ellipticals good for losing belly fat?

Any cardio exercise, including elliptical HIIT workouts, can help you lose belly fat, but there isn’t one that’s necessarily better than the other. Since you can’t spot-reduce belly fat, the best thing to do is focus on an overall wellness plan that helps lower your overall body fat percentage. This means incorporating some type of cardio with regular strength training, a healthy diet, good sleep, and regular stress management.

How long should you work out on an elliptical to lose weight?

There’s no magic timeframe for how long you should work out on an elliptical to lose weight. It really comes down to your overall wellness plan. That being said, the American Council on Exercise recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That could mean five 30-minute elliptical sessions weekly or four 45-minute workouts. 

“You also want to make sure you’re incorporating strength training,” says Amanda. “The combo of cardio and strength training helps improve your body composition, which can increase your basal metabolic rate. In turn, this increases your calorie burn even when you’re resting.”

Why am I not losing weight on an elliptical?

If you’re not losing weight on an elliptical, it’s likely a sign that you need to rework your overall weight loss plan. Make sure you’re properly managing your stress levels, getting at least 7 to 8 hours of good sleep each night, and dialing in your diet. And while the number of calories isn’t the only thing that matters when you’re trying to lose weight, it does play a role, so make sure you’re not consistently eating in a caloric surplus.

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