Top 10 Mistakes You Make On the Elliptical Trainer

I have seen so many of these things done on an Elliptical machine I thought I would just share it with you! In case you didn't know these are from and I thought they were amazing tips, especially because I am wanting to learn how to better at this:

1. You’re too lazy to enter your information.
Most machines are calibrated for a 150-pound person—but personalizing your stats will help you get a more accurate calorie read. Aim to burn around 100 calories per 10 minutes, says Jennifer Cassetty, an exercise physiologist.

2. Your resistance is zero.
You might feel like a million bucks spinning at a mile a minute, but without resistance, you’re not going to see results, says Röbynn Europe, a personal trainer at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Make sure that you’re using enough resistance to push and pull through the stride. Then, continue at a moderate pace until you feel like you’ve done all you can do. “You shouldn’t feel like you have even 5 minutes left in you when you step off,” she says.

3. You’re a sloucher.
Standing up straight helps to lengthen your abs, giving you a chance to engage your core and even work your upper body muscles, Cassetty says. Certified personal trainer Neal I. Pire, MA, CSCS, president of Inspire Training Systems in New Jersey, recommends hopping on a machine with an upper body component so you can engage even more muscles—and blast more fat. Can't find a machine that lets you pump your arms? Let go: Some research suggests that leaning on machine armrests during exercise reduces calorie burning.

4. Your machine sounds like it’s going to take off.
If you can hear the purr of the machine while you’re exercising, it means that you’re going too fast without enough resistance—which means you’re not getting the most calorie burn out of your time, Cassetty says. Keeping a steady, moderate pace at a resistance that forces you to use your muscles will get, and keep, your heart rate up.

5. You don’t change directions.
Going backwards doesn’t just stop you from getting bored, it also changes which large muscle groups are working hardest, according to Europe. While moving forward fatigues your quads, backwards puts emphasis on your hamstrings and glutes. To max out the effect, sit back slightly, keeping your knees at a 90-degree angle as you stride.

6. You haven’t changed your workout in months.
Intervals are a great way to break up the monotony of the machine and boost your calorie burn, says Europe. You can do this in one of two ways: Leave the resistance steady and change your pace (fast for 1 minute; moderate for 4) or maintain your speed and change your resistance (challenging resistance for 1 minute; moderate for 4).

7. You spin until you can’t feel your feet.
One of the most common elliptical mistakes is putting too much pressure on your toes, which can make your feet go numb and cut your workout short. Instead, sit back into your heels, which allows large muscle groups to work harder and gives you the stamina to go for longer, according to Cassetty.

8. You don’t work your upper half.
Incorporate the moving handles two days a week to put your upper body to work, and hang on to the stable handles on the others, says Cassetty. When you’re working your arms and legs, try intervals—focus on your arms for 1 minute, then pump your legs for 4, and repeat through your workout.

9. You spin your way up a hill.
Some models have a ramp incline, similar to a treadmill. But, unlike a treadmill, a large incline won’t increase the difficulty—instead, it’s easier for your legs to push and pull through the stride.

10. You’re an elliptical junkie.
As tempting as it may be to shoot straight to the elliptical every time you enter the gym, you should never be using one machine exclusively, says Europe. Supplement your routine with weight training and other cardio equipment, such as the rower. Making sure you incorporate variety keeps your body from getting used to a single movement and also continues to help you build muscle mass—which, in turn, will keep your metabolism boosted.


  • Apazman
    Apazman Posts: 494 Member
    OMG thanks, I have one and have never read these. thanks a lot!
  • LadyGhostDuchess
    LadyGhostDuchess Posts: 894 Member
    OMG thanks, I have one and have never read these. thanks a lot!

    You were one of the first people I thought of when I read this because I knew you did the Elliptical a lot! That and I was talking to a woman yesterday and she like Power Runs on those things.
  • hello77kitty
    hello77kitty Posts: 260 Member
    Thanks, very useful info!
  • LadyGhostDuchess
    LadyGhostDuchess Posts: 894 Member
    Yavapai23 applied this at the gym when we went tonight. I was proud of her, she was shocked by these!
  • Beckym1205
    Beckym1205 Posts: 217 Member
    Thanks for this info. I was a little nervous to see how many of these mistakes I make, but I feel pretty good now because I do most of the right things on it (but I must admit... my toes go numb on me after 20 minutes... so I'll definately work on that one).
  • mad4beinhere
    mad4beinhere Posts: 63 Member
    Excellent info, thanks for sharing :smile:
  • This is extremely helpful. I only have an elliptical at home, so it's the only machine I can use sadly. We bought it used, so I'm not sure how to calibrate it, but it's good to know it's set for someone who weighs less than me, that might mean I'm actually getting more from my work outs than I think I am? ;]

    It's also good to know that I was already doing most of the things you listed here. Though, I haven't tried the backwards thing yet. Since I use some of the pre-made 'workouts' I wouldn't know a good time to switch to reverse, so to speak.

    Thanks for posting this!
  • My biggest mistake is often getting on an elliptical trainer, from the outside I must look like a real goose arms and legs going everywhere.
  • fittraier
    fittraier Posts: 138
    Thanks for the laugh! I work at a YMCA, and can't tell you how many of these I see DAILY!!! or why people can't figure out why they aren't making progress using the elliptical.
  • Thanks so much for the info!! Great points!!!
  • LadyGhostDuchess
    LadyGhostDuchess Posts: 894 Member
    Thanks everyone! I am glad I found it to post it!
  • lissypriss
    lissypriss Posts: 157 Member
    I had the "foot numb" issue! Lol! My home elliptical didn't come with a calibration setting, but it has resistance levels from 1 - 20and I varry mine between 11 and 20. It's TOUGH usung the higher resistances, but I feel I get a better burn staying on the higher ones. The elliptical is easier on my feet and knees than a treadmill.
  • DeMarraDontStop
    DeMarraDontStop Posts: 342 Member
    Thanks for sharing, good information!
  • ryno0618
    ryno0618 Posts: 361
    Good post! I think a lot of people get the foot numbing issue. Make sure you are changing your foot stance and placement on the pedals every so often, and don't use only your toes like the article states to push.
  • amoffatt
    amoffatt Posts: 674 Member
    I love my Ellitical and these are great ideas... My machine only shows me calories burned (which is a lot less than MFP shows), time, resistance and speed. I cant put in my stats (grr..), its an older model so no incline to go uphill (grr...again), the resistance doesnt work, dont know why, broken (grr...grrr...again) and is the only machine I have at home and no funds to run and buy a new one and I work out at home, so I have to settle for second best, but it works for me. I do go backwards because of the different muscles it works, love it. I always wondered why my feet would go numb...great point. Thanks for sharing this information, always good to know facts about machines and what we are doing and not doing correctly. :bigsmile:
  • rosey808
    rosey808 Posts: 91 Member
    Thanks! My workout regime calls for elliptical 4 days a week for 30 minutes. I'm going to try going backwards to change it up.
  • artemis222
    artemis222 Posts: 390 Member
    This is so great! I use Elliptical all the time. I can proudly say I was doing most of the rules correctly. :) I think I'll work on the last rule first. I need to use something different.
  • JDavid007
    JDavid007 Posts: 331 Member
    This was very helpful since I use the Elliptical as my main cardio.
  • Thanks for this info. I was a little nervous to see how many of these mistakes I make, but I feel pretty good now because I do most of the right things on it (but I must admit... my toes go numb on me after 20 minutes... so I'll definately work on that one).

    Mine too. However, it doesn't shorten my workout. I just see it as my old lazy toes crying out and I get over it.. But I will trying going back on my heels to increase the large muscle activity.
  • vinylscratch
    vinylscratch Posts: 218 Member
    THANK YOU! The elliptical is all I have. I never thought to go backwards! I'm gonna try it tonight!!