Though often pushed aside for other, more popular exercise machines, the elliptical machine actually creates an amazing cardio workout that is like a combination between stair-stepping and cross-country skiing, and that is not as hard on your body as some other options, like the treadmill. Because of the elliptical motion of the pedals, there is zero impact on your heels and feet, which means less stress on your joints–especially your knees. This is good news for individuals who suffer from knee pain but still desire to participate in good workouts, because the elliptical motion is comfortable and pleasant. That said, using the elliptical daily or almost daily without change can become incredibly boring, unless you know how to spice up your workout.
Keeping Elliptical Workouts Interesting
The basic motions one must use while on an elliptical are essentially the same, as these motions are what cause the pedals to move. However, you can help to keep your regular elliptical workouts interesting by trying new things for two-minute intervals, such as:
1. Climbing. Elliptical machines, like treadmills, have incline settings. To change up your workout, raise your machine’s incline setting to the top level and then pedal backwards. You will still accomplish a gentle workout for your body and knees, while also maximizing your potential gains.
2. Don’t hold on. Holding onto the handrails can certainly help you to balance throughout your workout, but this also means that you are sort of “cheating” yourself out of an even more fulfilling workout. To spice things up, try letting go of the handrails and moving your arms as though you were running, being careful to keep yourself balanced.
3. Increase resistance. Any sort of exercise that consists of pulling your feet and legs up despite resistance can be incredibly satisfying. You can achieve this effect on your elliptical by decreasing your pace a bit, and then increasing the incline setting to the top level and increasing the resistance until it feels as though you are pulling your feet up out of soft, wet sand or mud.
4. Try sprints. Sprinting is one way to really drive your body to its physical limits, as long as you do so in a safe, aerobic way. The elliptical can help because it reduces the impact on your joints while mimicking the highly beneficial sprinting motion. Turn the incline setting to five and the resistance to zero, and then pedal forward as fast as you can for two minutes.
No workout should ever become boring or redundant, so it’s important to realize that if you are a dedicated elliptical user, there are ways to keep it fun and interesting.