Ellipticals Exercise: What Muscles Do The Elliptical Work?

Ellipticals Exercise: What Muscles Do The Elliptical Work?

Mai Delacruz

Mai Delacruz
Personal Fitness Trainer & Health Coach

Updated on 11/29/2022

An in-depth look at the muscles worked on elliptical trainers may be found here. What Muscles Do The Elliptical Work?

On Elliptical Cross Trainers, Do Your Muscles Get Worked Out?

If you are thinking about beginning elliptical training, you have probably questioned yourself about what muscles are used for elliptical motion. Workouts on an elliptical machine are instrumental since they enable you to burn calories by giving a form of exercise that is very efficient. Movements like this efficiently build strength in various muscle groups, including upper and lower bodies and thighs.

You can get a great workout in the gym or in the comfort of your home with an elliptical machine, and they are simple to set up. This article describes the various muscle groups worked out with an elliptical machine.

To summarise, the following groups of muscles are targeted when using elliptical trainers:

  1. Buttocks
  2. Thighs
  3. Calves
  4. Arms
  5. Shoulders
  6. Pectorals
  7. Abdominals

As can be seen, using elliptical machines for exercise requires various muscles. It is one of the finest solutions available to anyone who wants to burn fat quickly while maintaining the health of their joints and articulations.

An Explanation Of The Elliptical Exercise Machine


An elliptical trainer is a piece of exercise equipment that does not move. Yet, it may replicate activities such as jogging, walking, or climbing stairs without putting excessive stress on the joints. In addition, it provides low-impact cardiovascular exercises that can range from very mild to quite intense in terms of their level of intensity. Most elliptical trainers offer their customers the opportunity to exercise their upper and lower bodies. Elliptical trainers are becoming increasingly popular as a viable alternative for individuals interested in low-impact forms of exercise because they lower the danger of impact injuries.

Working out on an elliptical machine has many positive effects on one's body. According to several studies, using exercise equipment such as a StairMaster or an elliptical trainer can be equally effective in improving one's fitness level as using other similar pieces of apparatus. Additional study has uncovered advantages, including an attributable reduction in strain on the joints and an improvement in cardiovascular health.

On the other hand, the elliptical trainer works both the upper and lower body simultaneously, in contrast to the treadmill, which primarily engages the lower body. Regular workouts at the gym that focus on your cardiovascular fitness can help you build muscle.


Your core, arms, legs, and buttocks are all involved in the elliptical trainer workout, which helps you build muscle and improve tone throughout your body. Because it eliminates any possibility of collision with the ground, this apparatus is appropriate for those who have joint issues. People who don't have common problems can benefit from it since it's a decent substitute for jogging, helps build bone density, and keeps them from osteoporosis.

Your pectorals, triceps, and biceps, as your great dorsal and abdominal muscles, will all receive a workout in this section of your body. When the handles are brought closer to the body, the biceps and the big dorsal have the appearance of a "V" on the back and are both subjected to tension. When handles are pushed, the pectorals, the muscles of the chest, and the triceps, which are the forces positioned at the rear of the upper arms, are both put into action. The core muscles, which include the long straight and oblique muscles, contract to keep the body well-balanced and straight. The abdominal muscles consist of long straight and obliques.

The elliptical trainer is a comprehensive piece of exercise equipment.

Because of this, the elliptical trainer is the perfect exercise equipment for simultaneously working out and toning the entire body. Using it, you may improve the strength of the muscles in your lower body, arms, torso, and abdominals. It's one of the most all-encompassing games you can play from the comfort of your own home. Observing effects on the body in as few weeks is possible if you perform a routine that lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, two to three times a week. It is up to you to maintain your fitness level and improve your endurance to benefit from the elliptical trainer.

On Elliptical Trainers, Worked The Muscles.


In this segment, we will discuss various muscle groups that will improve as a result of using an elliptical machine:


The biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus are the three muscles that make up your hamstrings, located in the rear of your legs. During a workout on an elliptical machine, these muscles are activated by a combination of extension and flexion movements. In the context of elliptical training, the flexing and extending of the legs is a significant movement. The former refers to any activity that narrows the angle formed by two bones in the body, whereas the latter has the opposite effect.

Some elliptical trainers are equipped with a mechanism that allows the user to increase the elevation, which provides a workout that is analogous to climbing a hill. It will cause a rise in the flexion of your leg, leading to greater utilization of the hamstring muscles. Put another way, and you work the hamstring muscles when you extend and flex your legs.

If you want to emphasize your hamstrings more, you may increase the inclination levels on the elliptical machine. On the other hand, if your elliptical machine does not have an inclination function, you may still use the reverse pedaling mode.



Elliptical workouts target this muscle in addition to other muscles in the body. It is made up of four fundamental forces that are situated in front of the hip and the knee. When you press down on the pedal of an elliptical machine, you work these muscles. The higher the elevation, the greater the emphasis will be placed on the strengths of your quadriceps. On the other hand, if you want to put less stress on these muscles, you may reduce the machine's inclination.

The cross-trainer provides a challenging workout for these particular muscle groups. However, you will not feel or be aware of the burn until much later. Because working out on an elliptical engages not just your quadriceps but also plenty of other muscle groups.

Both The Triceps And The Chest

The triceps and chest, regarded as pushing muscles, are other muscle group that might benefit from exercising on an elliptical machine. When you exercise on an elliptical machine, you work out not just your upper body but also your lower body, as well as your triceps and pectoral muscles. The triceps are the muscles that are found on the back of the upper arm, while the pectoral muscles are the muscles that support the chest.

Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus, positioned in the posterior portion of the body, is one of the groups of muscles that are worked during an elliptical workout. These muscles collaborate with the quadriceps and the hamstrings to perform the movement. Hip extension is a significant move when exercising on an elliptical machine, especially when the device is inclined.

Motions like extending the hips, which are included in a cross-trainer workout, actively activate these muscles to a large degree. In addition, you put a significant amount of effort into using these muscles as you rise from a seated posture to a standing one.

The Back And Biceps

As your arms straighten during a workout on the moving levers, your upper body's pectoral and triceps muscles allow you to push on the levers. However, the biceps and rhomboids are activated when you draw the levers back towards your body in the other direction. To put it another way, the biceps and the back muscles work together to assist you in finishing the pulling motion.

When you flex your elbow, you're working the biceps, and when you drag your shoulder blades across your back, the rhomboids provide a helping hand. An elliptical workout, one that involves lifting weights, will not significantly contribute to the development of these muscles.

Abdominal Muscles

Abdominal Muscles

Workouts on an elliptical machine do not directly target the abdominal muscles, sometimes known as the muscles that make up a "six-pack." Altering your posture while using the elliptical machine will, however, allow you to gradually build up the strength in your abdominal muscles. Pedaling a bicycle without holding on to the handlebars is one of the most effective methods to work the abdominal muscles.

The reason for this is to maintain balance without the assistance of the levers, and you will need to concentrate on using the abdominal muscles. Taking this slightly altered position might assist you in engaging your abdominal muscles. You should be aware that strong core muscles are necessary for excellent posture, which may help reduce the risk of back discomfort and damage.

Muscles In The Calf

Muscles In The Calf

Elliptical workouts target several different muscle groups, including the calf muscles, which are positioned in the lower back discomfort of the legs. You may target specific muscle groups on your elliptical machine using the inclination option and the reverse pedaling function. When you press your foot on the pedals of an elliptical machine, you are using these muscles to accomplish a movement called plantar flexion.

These muscles will gradually develop more robust, providing a greater capacity for endurance when walking for extended periods. You should be aware, however, that exercising on an elliptical machine does not increase muscle mass. Therefore, if you want to increase the size of the muscles in your calves, weight training is something you should think about doing.


Workouts on the elliptical machine are similar to aerobic training, and as such, they allow you to train both your heart and lungs. During an exercise on an elliptical machine, the nature and respiratory rates will increase, improving blood circulation to your muscles even further.

Tips That Can Be Put Into Practice When Exercising On Elliptical Machines


It is highly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any workout regimen to eliminate the possibility of experiencing any adverse effects. The workouts prescribed by this apparatus can be taxing, particularly for individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle, are overweight, are old, or do not participate in sports. You won't have to worry about knee pain thanks to this piece of exercise equipment, which is also helpful after an accident.

It is essential to perform a warm-up before every elliptical exercise to assist in opening the microscopic capillaries that feed the muscles. It is also imperative to relax to keep aches and pains at bay. Stretching after each workout returns flexibility to the joints and the length of muscles to where it was before the move.

Perform at least three sessions of twenty minutes each every week if you want to enhance your endurance or reduce weight, whatever your aim. Remember to drink a lot of water to maintain your body healthy and operate correctly.


Alternating high-intensity exercise bouts with lower-intensity exercise recovery intervals is recommended for optimal fat burning. You should set the resistance on your machine before performing high-intensity sequences. It will allow you to cycle while maintaining control of your work, enabling you to keep up the pace for around forty minutes. This exercise consists of pedaling while aiming to reach the highest frequency possible.

The pyramid workout involves moving through low, moderate, and high-intensity phases in a staggered fashion. You may also engage in rhythm exercises, which enable you to work according to your shape and set objectives. This workout will have you alternating between low and high-intensity sequences, and you will have the option to quit after completing the first level.

You might choose moderate-intensity activities to enhance your endurance, boost your fitness, or reduce your body fat. Exercises of an intermediate level draw on the body's fat stores more effectively and efficiently than those with high intensity. It is highly advised that you find your ideal heart rate for the amount of fat you consume to keep your health in check and quickly accomplish your objectives.

Elliptical Machines Benefits

Elliptical Machines Benefits

The elliptical cross trainer is beneficial to one's cardiovascular system.

The elliptical trainer can be a valuable tool for improving cardiovascular health, but only if the user has no preexisting heart conditions. Your heart rate may be swiftly increased when you use the elliptical trainer. You probably aren't even aware of it, but the work is evenly split between the muscles into your arms, legs, and abdominal region. Nothing can stop you from attaining your maximum heart rate, not even pain.

On the other hand, if you are a novice, if you have a cardiac condition, or if you are above the age of 50, you should exercise extreme caution. Consult with others for guidance before attempting to tackle your pulse. The machine will be able to be programmed at your own pace by a sports coach who works at the gym where you do your workouts. In any event, you should discuss this with your primary care physician before registering. In any event, you will be required to present a certificate stating that there are no contraindications.

Beneficial To The joints

In contrast to jogging and the treadmill, the elliptical trainer ensures that your body weight is distributed evenly between both legs. It protects your joints while allowing you to move with an amplitude comparable to that of a runner's stride. Many athletes use this machine to get back in shape after an injury.

Beneficial For The Musculature

Beneficial For The Musculature

The motion of pushing on the pedals causes muscle strain on the leg muscles. At the same time, the arms are used to move the handles in both pushing and pulling motions. To summarise, it is a group effort! To make matters even better, you are free to divide the work as you choose between your upper and lower limbs. Last but not least, this exercise requires you to rotate your waist ever-so-slightly and enables you to target both the small and big oblique abdominal muscles.

In Conjunction With Many Other Workouts, Often Known As Cross Training

You can switch up your workout routine by using accessories (like a treadmill, weight machines, or a semi-extended bike), or you can do exercises that don't require any specific supplement at all (like push-ups) if you find that prolonged use of an elliptical trainer is dull because it is so repetitive. For instance, the same hybrid apparatus can combine an elliptical trainer with a semi-extended bike, enabling you to cycle without strain on your back or neck.

Practical Advice To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Muscular Reinforcement


It can burn calories and improve cardiovascular system endurance significantly with an elliptical machine. Additionally, it has the potential to assist you in building muscle in practically all areas of your body, provided that it is used correctly.

When using an elliptical machine, you should keep a few things in mind to maximize your benefits in increasing your muscle mass.

First And Foremost, Select The Appropriate Apparatus.

Some elliptical trainers are more effective than others at isolating the motion of the arms and legs. Pick a machine with handles that provide the most leeway for independent arm rotation if you want to ensure that your arms are getting the workout they need. You will be able to more effectively target the muscles in your triceps, biceps, back, shoulders, and chest if you pull and push the arm poles instead of allowing the pedals to speed up upper body movement. It will enable you to work the arm poles at a slower pace.

Tip: If your machine does not have handles, you may still target your arms and chest by executing loops, providing air pressure with a small set of dumbbells, or pressing a medicine ball on your chest while you work out on the elliptical machine.

Use Interval Training, As Suggested In Tip No. 2

Interval training, which involves shifting the direction in which you cycle, can help you exercise different muscle groups and is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Your hamstrings and buttocks are activated whenever you put forward pedaling effort, and when you pedal in the other direction, you work the muscles in your front thighs and quads.

  1. Make Use Of The Available Programs.

Elliptical Machines Benefits

The majority of elliptical trainers come pre-programmed with a range of various workout options, which gives you the ability to focus on a variety of different health and fitness objectives. These programs will instruct you to change your routine in various ways, such as advising you to bike forwards or to complete your exercise with your arms rather than your legs. Your level of effort and resistance will both be changed throughout these sessions. You can target different muscle groups and force your legs to exercise in a manner analogous to weightlifting by, for example, simulating the motion of climbing a hill.

Fourth Piece Of Advice: Free Your Hands

You can train more than just your arm and leg muscles with an elliptical machine since it has a variety of resistance levels. You may exercise your core muscles by removing your hands from the grips and placing them on your hips, then pumping your arms in a circular motion because you need to use your abdominal and the other core muscles to keep your balance.

Change Where You Are Standing (Tip No. 5)

Altering the position of your body can help you building muscle and target other muscle groups, in addition to helping you develop your strengths. For example, if you perform a half squat while cycling backward, you will work your quadriceps and buttocks more effectively. Alternately, you may enhance your lower body exercise by extending your straight legs for a longer stride rather than pulling them firmly underneath you. It will allow you to work your lower body more effectively.



In conclusion, elliptical machines allow you to engage in a full-body exercise that works everything from your upper body to your lower legs. In addition, it can improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Because of this, it has evolved into an option highly recommended for those suffering from various ailments. When you exercise on an elliptical machine, you work out multiple muscles, some of which are described in the abovementioned points.

The elliptical machine can be utilized in either the correct or incorrect manner depending on the user. You may receive a very challenging exercise from the device if you have the proper form to use and a strategy to follow.

To find out how to get the most out of each step, we consulted with fitness professionals to get their best advice and an efficient exercise that can complete in twenty minutes. Here is how to make the most of your time exercising on an elliptical machine. To get the most out of your workout, decide what you want to accomplish before starting the engine. Leanne Weiner, a personal trainer and corrective exercise expert working for Fit Academy, recommends that clients "Ask yourself what you want to achieve that day."

"After that, check your perceived degree of effort throughout the workout to ensure that you are not merely dialing it in. At zero, this would be equivalent to going on a stroll, and at a level of 10, you would be absolutely out of breath. If you don't feel like you're working, you're probably not."


According to Marc Santa Maria, a group fitness instructor, one of the most common errors individuals make while using an elliptical is that they do not set any goals for themselves. "Many individuals jump on and believe that if they move, this will become successful; nevertheless, this is not the case. You need to have a strategy for your workouts."

Exercise your entire body by using the grips as resistance. According to Weiner, power is distributed across the upper and lower bodies using an elliptical machine.

To get the most out of your exercise, you should actively push and pull the levers while retaining an upright stance, keeping your shoulders drawn back, and engaging your abdominal muscles. If you don't do this, your arms will merely be along for the ride. There is also the option of operating the equipment without using the railings. According to Weiner, "Since most of the power is generated from the lower body, it is necessary to activate the core more to maintain balance." "Stay straight, keep the abs engaged, and pump the arms forth and backward at a 90-degree angle — as if you were running," the instructor said. "This will help you burn more calories."

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