Home elliptical machines are one of the most effective ways to lose weight and stay in shape. Even many world-class athletes incorporate elliptical training since it provides joint-preserving, low-impact exercise for the upper and lower body simultaneously. Here are some strategies to make your elliptical workouts more effective.
A little knowledge about human metabolism will help you understand how to get the most out of your training regimen. For instance, if fat burning is your goal, then slower prolonged exercise is actually more effective than fast high-intensity activity. At high intensity, the body consumes carbohydrates, the fastest fuel available. The main carbohydrate sources are recently eaten food and carbs stored in the liver.
If you exercise at a slow, steady pace, your body uses its oxidative energy system, which prefers fat as fuel, (stored around your waist, hips and thighs). Calorie for calorie, exercises done at slower speeds are one of the best ways to stimulate your metabolism.
The problem is that slow exercise, like walking, takes longer for total calorie consumption. Running burns fat too, but you have to put in many miles to get the results you desire. The secret to maximizing fat loss is by increasing muscle activation, not miles.
Walking uphill at 5 mph burns more fat than walking the same speed on a flat surface because you recruit more muscles when you climb. Your legs stretch further with each step, and your muscles must work against gravity. Walking uphill is one of the best methods to burn fat, since your body works in a range where the oxidative energy (fat burning) system is the main source of fuel.
Many elliptical machines have an incline adjustment. When you increase the incline, but maintain the same speed, you increase muscle activation. Some ellipticals have incline adjustments of up to 60%, which is like climbing a very steep hill.
If you are not used to exercising with an incline, you can start slow and build up. For example, let’s say you use your elliptical 30 minutes a day. You might start out with an incline of 0% to 5%. Every week or so, you could increase the incline by 5% to 10% but keep the workout time and speed the same. This way you gradually activate more muscle all within the same 30 minutes. If you were to run to lose the fat, you would have to add more miles, which means more time.
Finally, the built-in handlebar motion on most ellipticals increases muscle activation even more by including arm exercise. On some machines, you can even vary your hand position to isolate certain muscles, giving you more core muscle development.
If you are going to spend the time working out, you want to spend your time wisely. Make every minute count. Smart choices save time, energy and produce the body results you desire. By including incline in your elliptical machine programming you can reach your fitness goals faster.
Joe Atler is a fitness buff, writer and the CEO of Yowza Fitness, a leading manufacturer of home fitness equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. He is on a mission to lead the home fitness industry to a new era of innovation, with biomechanically superior cardiovascular fitness equipment.