fitness

How to get the most out of the elliptical machine.

Image via iStock.

Ah, the elliptical machine. It’s the go-to for when you want to read a magazine and, well, dawdle a little at the gym, and research shows most people think it’s ineffective and boring.

But the humble elliptical is actually one of the best machines for a total body workout, especially if you’re time-poor. If you only have 30 minutes to work out, it should actually be your machine of choice.

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I spoke with health and fitness expert, and owner of Fit Fantastic, Ali Cavill, about the dos and don’ts of the elliptical, and how to get the best workout from the machine. (Post continues after gallery.)

“Use the resistance on the machine to make your workout more efficient, rather than focusing on speed,” Cavill says.

“It isn’t like the treadmill in that way, it is all about resistance and movement. The slower and heavier the workout, the better. You won’t get any benefits of cardio or weight if you just try to speed on the machine.”

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Cavill also recommends varying your elliptical workout by using the incline to mix up your workout.

“The more your body becomes used to the same workout, the less calories you burn. The best thing to do on the elliptical is to mix it up. Try a heavy, slow climb, and then also try interval training, where you can go faster (but still have some resistance), and then drop it down and go a little slower,” she says.

Posture is also very important when using the elliptical. (Image via iStock)
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Your posture while using the machine is also very important. Cavill says you should be using the machine with a loose grip on the handlebars, and stand up straight.

"A lot of people feel like they need to lean forward, but that will put a strain on their back, and it doesn't use their body weight to its full effect," she explains.

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The best feature of the machine is that it gives your whole body a workout.

"You actually use your arms and upper body at the same time as working your lower body. You can shorten your workout because it is quality over quantity with the elliptical," Cavill says.

Saving time by working both your upper body and lower body means less time at the gym, so I will definitely be using the elliptical in future... but probably sans the magazine.

What is your favourite way to use the elliptical machine at the gym?

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