Elliptical Workout For Weight Loss

Fitness, Running Workouts, Workouts

By: // December 21, 2021

The elliptical trainer has been a favorite in gyms for decades. An elliptical workout puts less stress on the knee and hip joints than running or walking on a treadmill or the road making it a great low-impact alternative cardio workout. 

Even better, the elliptical machine workouts are considered weight-bearing which is needed for building bone mass. 

How to Use The Elliptical Machine

To use an elliptical machine, carefully step your feet on each pedal and grab the handlebars or handle levers with both arms. Then begin to move your legs in elliptically shaped motions. Most elliptical machines have a motor and a programmable computer that can automatically create varying degrees of resistance.  

Get the Most out of Your Elliptical Workouts

There are 5 keys to making the most out of your elliptical workout, keeping your workouts fresh, and avoiding boredom:

  1. Vary your incline. More incline, lower body muscles used.
  2. Don’t forget resistance. More resistance, more effort needed.
  3. Change direction.  You can pedal forward or backward
  4. Add intervals. Pushing yourself for short bursts of time increases calorie burn. 
  5. Use the handles. Most Elliptical trainers also have handles making it a great total body workout.

Benefits of Using The Elliptical Machine

Here are a few of the reasons to do an elliptical workout:

  • Gives you a cardio workout that’s easier on your joints than jumping or pounding the pavement.
  • Good for all fitness levels; even if you are a beginner or you’re getting back into exercise after an injury.
  • The elliptical is a total body workout and can burn a high number of calories if weight loss is your goal.
  • Helps improve balance and mobility.
  • Offers quick workouts for busy days.
  • It feels great for the lower body, using different muscles than a jogging or biking routine.
  • Can be easily used for high-intensity interval training.
  • You can incorporate upper body movements while using the elliptical with light weights.

We’ve utilized these tactics to give you 3 calorie-burning elliptical workouts to help you lose weight. 

3 Elliptical Workouts for Weight Loss 

The elliptical workouts below are designed to give you a workout plan that will make your time a little more interesting and more challenging.

By working for different muscle groups and changing things up, these elliptical workouts will shape your lower body, burn more calories, and keep your routine fresh.

1. The Lunch Time Calorie Crunch Elliptical Workout

When you only have 15-minutes, you need an elliptical workout that gets your heart rate up and torches calories fast. Enter: Our Lunch Time Calorie Crunch.

Changing up the resistance and incline often in this quick workout helps you make the most of your time. By using varying inclines and resistance levels, you move your heart rate through different zones.

Plus, you’ll alternate between pedaling backward and forwards which helps you work all your leg muscles in one workout. If you make sure to follow the plan, this 15-minute workout will let you get in and out in record time.

Lunch Time Calorie Crunch Elliptical Workout Plan

Minute Resistance Incline Direction
0:00 – 3:00 5.0 5.0 Forward
3:00 – 4:00 8.0 5.0 Forward
4:00 – 5:00 9.0 8.0 Forward
5:00 – 6:00 10.0 8.0 Backward
6:00 – 7:00 9.0 10.0 Forward
7:00 – 8:00 12.0 11.0 Forward
8:00 – 9:00 10.0 12.0 Backward
9:00 – 10:00 14.0 12.0 Backward
10:00 – 11:00 10.0 12.0 Forward
11:00 – 12:00 9.0 10.0 Backward
12:00 – 13:00 10.0 5.0 Forward
13:00 – 15:00 5.0 5.0 Forward

Related: 4 Treadmill Workouts To Beat Boredom

2. The 12-Minute Tabata Elliptical Workout

Have 12-minutes to spare? Then you’ll love this Tabata elliptical routine.

This workout gives the elliptical a fresh spark using the Tabata interval training technique. Tabata is a form of HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training.

The concept of elliptical Tabata is this – by going as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds several times in a row, you keep your brain busy and your heart pumping.

The incline remains 5.0 the entire workout, but the resistance and the pace or speed at which you push changes. So have fun and enjoy the ride! Not many people realize an elliptical Tabata workout is an option, but it’s a high intensity way to get your cardio in.

Not everyone has 30 minutes for an elliptical session. No problem, within one minute of an elliptical Tabata workout, your upper and lower body will feel fantastic.

Tabata Elliptical Workout

Elliptical Warm-Up

Minute Resistance Incline Direction
2 Minutes 4.0 5.0 Warm-Up:
Keep a Steady Pace

Tabata #1

Minute Resistance Incline Direction
2 Minutes 6.0 5.0 Forward Pedal
20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


Minute Resistance Incline Direction
2 Minutes 10.0 5.0 Backward Pedal
20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


Minute Resistance Incline Direction
1 Minutes 4.0 5.0 Recover

Tabata #2

Minute Resistance Incline Direction
2 Minutes 12.0 5.0 Forward Pedal
20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4


Minute Resistance Incline Direction
2 Minutes 8.0 5.0 Backward Pedal
20 Seconds Push Hard, 10 Seconds Rest, Repeat x 4

Minute Resistance Incline Direction
1 Minute 4.0 5.0 Cool Down

3. The “Go Big” Interval Challenge Elliptical Workout

This interval challenge will rev your metabolism and you’ll burn more calories as time flies by. In 30 minutes, you will change your resistance and use speed intervals to crank up your metabolism.

Pay attention to the column on the right that says “feeling” and adjust the speed you pedal to match that feeling. Try to vary the forward and backward motion between the intervals to keep all your leg muscles working evenly.

Go Big Interval Challenge Elliptical Workout

Minute Resistance Incline Effort
0:00 – 5:00 3.0 5.0 Warm-Up
5:00 – 10:00 8.0 6.0 Endurance: Start to Work
10:00 – 11:00 8.0 6.0 Push to Breathless
11:00 – 13:00 8.0 6.0 Recover
13:00 – 14:00 10.0 5.0 Push to Breathless
14:00 – 16:00 8.0 5.0 Recover
16:00 – 20:00 8.0 5.0 Endurance: Steady and Hard
20:00 – 21:00 10.0 6.0 Push to Breathless
21:00 – 22:00 8.0 7.0 Recover
22:00 – 23:00 12.0 7.0 Push to Breathless
23:00 – 24:00 8.0 7.0 Recover
24:00 – 28:00 10.0 6.0 Endurance: Steady and Hard
28:00 – 30:00 3.0 5.0 Cool Down

Take these elliptical workouts with you to the gym with your free printable below.

Looking for another way to get your low-impact cardio in? Try this free 10-Minute No Running Cardio Workout!

READ THIS NEXT: Healthy Post-Workout Recovery Options

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on December 1, 2021 at 9:55 PM Reply

Hi, I noticed on the 20 min tabata it’s really 12 mins total? Or is there something I’m missing? I was trying to know when I need to change intervals at or around approximate times but when you add it all up I get 12 mins total with warm up and cool down. Is this accurate? Also, it’s a good workout! Thank you!

    on January 5, 2022 at 1:35 PM Reply

    Hi Chelsey, Well you are completely correct in saying that it's really only 12 minutes!! You are not missing anything and we have gone in and changed the verbiage to match the correct time of 12 minutes total! To make it a 20 minute workout you would have to double it and do it 2 times through, but we want people to note that if they don't have 20 minutes a quick 12 minute challenging Tabata is all you need! Thanks for point this out for us!

on March 16, 2021 at 7:46 PM Reply

We just got a elliptical how much should I work out on it a day I was thinking of doing 20 minutes before I go to work and a mile when I get home everyday is that a good plan or should I do something different ?

    on March 17, 2021 at 1:49 PM Reply

    Brandy - definitely sounds like a great plan to me! The plan that works best for your schedule is the one that is going to work the best! I don't think you need to go crazy and be on the elliptical for hours... personally that sounds boring (to me of course!) but 30 minutes - 20 before work and another 10 or so after work to hit that mile - is a great plan!!

on November 5, 2019 at 7:53 AM Reply

Is there a particular speed (RPM) to maintain during the workouts?

    on August 18, 2020 at 11:05 AM Reply

    Hi Tam - the speed you will want to maintain is something you can hold onto for the entire length of the workout. So for instance if the workout is a 30 minute elliptical workout - you will want to hold onto a pace that you can do the entire 30 minutes. You do not want to start off too fast and not be able to make it through the entire length of time. This number/ RPM is going to be different for every individual.

on May 3, 2019 at 12:45 AM Reply

This is very detailed and informative! I am giving these elliptical workouts a try after I've fully recovered from giving birth. Thank you for sharing this!

    on May 21, 2019 at 5:14 PM Reply

    Yay - go you! You will have to stop back after you try these elliptical workouts and let us know how you liked them! It is a great way to switch up your cardio and the elliptical is less impact on the joints than running which can be a nice change of pace! Keep on moving!

on January 6, 2019 at 12:47 PM Reply

I did 55 minutes of interval elliptical today, 30 seconds forward at a fast speed, and then 30 seconds backwards at a slow rate, changing direction and speed every 30 seconds, I have high blood pressure and im trying to get it down any advice ?

    on February 20, 2019 at 6:54 PM Reply

    Hi Joe - While exercise can lower blood pressure and it's a great idea to live a healthy lifestyle as best you can with eating well and exercising, you will want to make sure you consult your doctor on how to best lower your blood pressure! Continue exercising and eating a healthy diet as this will help, but consult your doctor on additional ways to lower your blood pressure!

on December 4, 2018 at 10:51 AM Reply

Hi Chris, I got to Planet Fitness, and I don't believe their elliptical machines have an incline option. Any suggestions on how to work around that?

    on December 5, 2018 at 1:30 PM Reply

    Hi Jason - I would say to then increase your resistance!

on November 13, 2017 at 5:22 PM Reply

I am overweight, I am 5ft 5in and weigh 195 lbs and I can barely stay on my elliptical for one minute. How do I work up 2 the 15 minutes without killing myself.

    on November 14, 2017 at 7:37 AM Reply

    Hi Debbie - just take it slow. Do what you can and then every day or every few days slowly increase. Good luck!

on September 13, 2017 at 5:01 AM Reply

Where should we hold the elliptical?shoulder level or chest level

    on September 19, 2017 at 11:51 AM Reply

    It doesn't matter! Whatever feels comfortable for you - just make sure to not scrunch your neck!

on April 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM Reply

Can't wait to try this workout! On the 20 minute Tabata workout should I come to a complete stop on the 10 second rest or pedal slower?

on March 25, 2015 at 10:11 AM Reply

I'm definitely going to try the first workout, probably today. I don't think the elliptical machines at my gym have an incline however.

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