How to Use an Elliptical for More Effective Workouts

Ellipticals have become a highly popular choice for cardiovascular exercise in both gym and home gym settings.

3 min read


a trainer is ready to use an ellipitical machine

Ellipticals have become a highly popular choice for cardiovascular exercise in both gym and home gym settings. They provide an incredible cardiovascular workout, burning a significant number of calories while minimizing the impact on the joints. Ellipticals also offer a full body workout, as you engage the handlebars with your upper body, and use your legs to push against the footplates. If you’re considering adding an elliptical to your home gym, keep reading to learn the basics of how to make your elliptical workouts more effective!

How to Use an Elliptical

Before you hop on your elliptical and get started, take some time to learn about your machine. Read up on the computer features and programs, that way you’ll not only understand how to operate your machine, but also make the most of the features you have available.

Once you’ve read up on your machine, you’re ready to get started! Read the steps below to learn how to properly and safely operate your elliptical.

  1. Before stepping onto your machine, ensure the footplate is at its most downward position. Grab onto the handle for support as you step onto your machine.
  2. Start pedaling by pushing the pedals in a forward motion with your legs and pushing and pulling on the handlebars evenly.
  3. If the computer on your elliptical has programs, choose from any of the pre-set programs, or select manual mode to create your own workout.
  4. Throughout your workout adjust your resistance to make your workout more challenging or increase and decrease your intensity.
  5. When you’ve finished your workout, make sure your machine has come to a complete stop before safely dismounting your machine.

Proper Elliptical Technique

When on your elliptical, it’s important to think about proper body positioning to ensure your safety and the effectiveness of your workout. There are 3 key things you should think about when it comes to proper technique while on your elliptical - hand grip, posture, and feet.

Hand Grip

Your hand grip should be right at or below shoulder height, with a full, firm grip on the handlebars. If your grip is too high, it can create a strain on your neck and shoulders.

Upright Posture

Maintain an upright posture, with a proud chest, shoulders down and back, and core engaged and tight. This posture will protect your spine during exercise while creating a strong base for your arms and legs to push and pull on the pedals and handlebars.


Ideally, your foot should remain in contact with the footplate throughout your full range of motion on your elliptical. With your foot pressed firmly on the footplate, it will take the pressure off the ankles and knees, and help to fully engage the glutes and thighs as designed.

How to Make Your Elliptical Workouts More Effective

My first recommendation to making your workouts more effective would be to find workouts to follow along to. Using workouts designed by a professional will open up the knowledge of the variety of ways to use your machine, and pointers to make future sessions even more effective. Check out a few of our favorite elliptical workouts below that you can use to follow along at home!

Give yourself grace as you go, taking time to learn the ins and outs of your machine. It’s important to remember with any new fitness journey, each workout is your workout. Listen to your body, take each session at your own pace, and enjoy your new elliptical.

Using an Elliptical for More Effective Workouts Infographic
Using an Elliptical for More Effective Workouts Infographic

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1 comment

Rita Miles

My Elliptical is the SF-E3912 and I love it, the work out programs is a big help thanks