The elliptical is an alternative form of focused cardiovascular exercise to walking and running. It is perfect for anyone wanting a lower impact workout. I will discuss how you can get a better elliptical workout with proper form.
Elliptical Workouts Are Good Forms of Cardio
The elliptical product category came onto the fitness scene in the early 90s, opened a new avenue welcomed by Gym-goers. It mimics the natural locomotive stride pattern of humans. Previous to this machine's invention, the cardiovascular training options were limited to treadmills, bikes, and aerobic group classes.
An elliptical is designated as low-impact because the user's feet stay in contact with the footplate through the entire movement. Most machines take the feet through an oval-like cyclic motion that aims to mimic the stride of walking, jogging, and running. I say most machines because there are copious amounts of different kinds of ellipticals; some even called other names.
Each design of elliptical comes with a specific cyclic motion it creates. The cyclic motion is dictated by stride length and stride incline or angle.
This machine also mimics running effectively by the use of armbars attached to the footplates. Synchronized arm action is a critical piece of walking and running, so holding the armbars makes using the elliptical very close to running.
Why You Need Proper Elliptical Forms
I have three pillars I use when designing and coaching a workout. Each workout has to be safe, fun, and effective, with safety listed first on purpose. As a fitness professional, proper form and technique come as the top priority when working with clients.
Proper form ensures each workout is safe, and the client leaves the training feeling better than when they came in. Proper form not only ensures safety but also improves workout effectiveness. The expression, there are no shortcuts in life, also reigns true in fitness.
Taking shortcuts in fitness and during your workouts by not being mindful of form will only hurt you in the long run. This hurt may be mental and emotional frustration when the desired results are not met or physical when your body starts to hurt. When your workout is safe, you will, in time, see better results.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, an elliptical is a highly safe piece of workout equipment. It ranks as one of the safest pieces of fitness equipment for all the reasons discussed. But, whenever you perform physical activity, there is an inherent risk of injury.
So, improve your elliptical workout effectiveness and benefits with these helpful form tips.
How to Do Elliptical Trainer Proper Form Correctly
- Tall Upright Posture: Stand up tall with your shoulder blades gently pulled back. Pull your head up and back while tucking your chin to ensure proper upper body posture.
- Relaxed Shoulders: Let your upper trap muscles relax and lose any tension that is lifting your shoulders.
- Soft Elbows: Naturally, extend your arm to grab onto the handlebars. Let your elbows maintain a soft, comfortable bend.
- Loose Handlebar Grip: Gently hold onto the handlebars with minimal tension in your hands. Over gripping leads to unnecessary and extra muscle activation in your hands and forearms.
- Neutral Hips: Slightly pulling your hips forward takes your low back out of hyperextension to properly align your spine. This position also actives your glutes and abdominal muscles to help build postural strength.
- The Front Foot Has a Gentle Stride Forward: Your heel typically comes off the foot pedal, and you push through the ball of your foot to drive forward. This motion should feel natural.
- The Trailing Foot Has a Subtle Pull Back: The entire foot stays flat to pull back with your hamstrings and cycle the pedal back to its starting motion. This portion of the cycle is beneficial for taking pressure off the knees by strengthening the back of your leg.
- Feet and Knees Track Forward: During the motion, the foot and knees point forward to keep proper body alignment.
- Feel Rhythmic: The entire revolution feels smooth and rhythmic. Like running or biking, you can get into a groove, and each pedal stroke leads into the next.
Get In Shape with Proper Elliptical Form Training
Some of these pointers may feel unnatural or awkward at first. However, expect some of these movements to feel uncomfortable since you may be breaking out of old habits.
Follow these form tips to see an improvement in your elliptical form and performance. Re-training your body takes time and repetition, but it is well worth ensuring a better elliptical workout and a healthier version of yourself.
Here are some great elliptical training workouts to help you get started.