You already know that your elliptical trainer strengthens your cardiovascular system without stressing your joints. What you may not know is that there are a lot of ways you can use your elliptical to strengthen your body and train for other activities. Here are 5 ways you can improve your elliptical training sessions:
1. Take your hands off the machine. Challenge your balance and strengthen your core by taking your hands off of the handles and using your arms to enhance your effort. Engage your core by drawing your belly in and keeping the top of your shoulders relaxed. This produces a functional movement that improves your balance and power in functional activities and athletic pursuits.
2. Strengthen your upper body. If your elliptical has arm handle to strengthen your upper body, regularly include these in your workouts. Drive with your arms during your recovery periods, while your legs are preparing for their next effort.
3. Add backwards movements. Elliptical trainers offer the unique option of backwards movement. This equalizes muscle imbalances that develop from emphasizing forward movements in other activities, while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.
4. Strengthen your lower body. Increase your resistance and keep your weight in your heels to target your glutes and quadriceps in much the same way that squats target these areas during strength training. You can use this approach in both forward and backwards movements to hit these muscles differently and add a challenge for your hamstrings.
5. Add Sprints. Increase your speed during high effort intervals. This increases your cardiovascular challenge and provides a cross training activity that will improve your speed in other activities.
Just a few training variations will help you continue to see results and reach your personal goals.
Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. To find out more, visit the Meet Our Writers page.