When you walk into a gym or think about purchasing cardio equipment for your home the elliptical is one of the most overlooked and underused pieces of equipment. Many view the elliptical as an easy, boring exercise machine when it is really quite the contrary. Training on an elliptical machine is healthy, challenging and cardio friendly. It is an excellent alternative to treadmill training and has many benefits for people of all fitness levels.

Cardio Health

Monitoring your heart rate during cardio is one of the most important factors of fat burn and cardiac health when exercising, and with many machines to pick from, there are different factors that go into it. From low intensity to high intensity interval training, your workout can be maximized on the elliptical with the different types of workouts you can do. Of course intensity and type of workout go into the equation on which machines will work you out the best but on some studies, the elliptical is far and away the best when talking about heart rate. The targeted heart rate you want all has to do with age and you want it at 170 or higher and the elliptical is the most effective machine to accomplish this. In the end it all comes down to body type and each person must find exercises that optimize their energy expense and get there heart pumping.

Less Wear and Tear

Your knee, hip, and back joints will thank you later because using the elliptical takes a lot of stress of your body compared to using machines like the treadmill or stairmaster. The elliptical is a low-impact machine on your body relieving stress cause by other exercises. It is a great alternative to running because it provides the same aerobic exercise as running but with less damage to your body.

Muscle Lengthening and Strengthening

The elliptical is one of the few machines that really stretches some muscles and makes you lengthen your strides at a fast pace. The fixed strides on the elliptical force some extra stretching in your legs and can activate muscles that aren’t ordinarily worked. The quadriceps are one of the muscles that the treadmill can’t work as well as the elliptical does according to a Willamette University study. Switching it up and going backwards makes the quads work even harder than forward as well!

Total Body Workout

Using treadmills and exercise bikes are very effective cardio machines but the workout is focused on your legs. Most ellipticals include the upper body arm handles that you can use to turn your workout into full body training session. The elliptical can work your chest, shoulders, back, arms, and legs with a variety of different exercises. For example, try going in reverse on the elliptical and see how well it pushes your calves and works out different muscles of your legs as opposed to if you were striding forwards. Your upper body gets worked out when you grab the handles and get your entire upper body moving and striding with your lower body.


Since an elliptical has multiple resistance levels, inclines and upper body arm handles, you can do a full body workout including cardio in a quick and efficient 20 minute session. If you challenge yourself, adjust your intensity, include some powerful intervals and take advantage of the programmable modes available on many ellipticals you can achieve better results in less time than most other machines.

Minimal Space

If you’re thinking of getting one for a house or apartment, there are plenty of ellipticals that don't take up a lot of room and can fit easily in a corner or out of the way. Compared to other cardio equipment, an elliptical takes up less room than a treadmill and equal space as an exercise bike. XTERRA Fitness offers elliptical options that can fit in your house or apartment and get your healthy lifestyle started!

As with all fitness programs and diets, it’s always best to consult a physician before starting any new program.