The elliptical machine is by far the best tool for a person to use to strengthen your cardiovascular system. Your heart and lungs will thank you with the reward of added years to your life. You will get your entire body moving and build endurance like you have never imagined. Knowing this, also know that no piece of cardio equipment completes the fitness equation alone. There is another factor you should incorporate to make faster progress.
Ask yourself, "What is my goal when I get an an elliptical machine"? For many, it is to lose weight and feel better. For others it is to build endurance for sports, or just for getting around and not getting so tired. Well there is another activity you should add to your program in order to feel better, look better, and get much faster results. That activity is strength training.
When I talk about strength training, I am not talking about 'bodybuilding', or 'getting huge'. No, rather what I am talking about is using anaerobic exercise to build strength and tone muscles. I do not care who you are, you will not get huge without a specific, and completely opposite, eating plan from one a person would follow to lose weight. Bodybuilding caters to extra protein, and in many cases, excess calories, in order to add weight, fat included. So now you know what I do not mean by strength training, let me tell you what I do mean.
Strength training refers to using your muscles in an exercise at a level where the muscle actually can not continue to function normally. For example, when you are on an elliptical machine, you can probably go for ten, twenty, or even sixty minutes, because you are at a sustainable level of exertion where oxygen is used efficiently and the supply can keep up with the demand. When you perform strength exercises, you use the oxygen in your muscles faster than it can be renovated, and since you tire quickly. To use the oxygen supply more quickly you must use greater weights you are used to for a low number of repetitions. So by now you are protesting that you do not want to join a gym, and you do not have a home gym.
I know you are now asking "Why do I need this strength training?" If you think about it logically, the only thing that uses calories is burns fat or carbohydrates is muscle. Assume you are 180 pounds, and one third of that is muscle. Your fat burning capacity rests on sixty pounds of muscle to burn fat. What if you just added 10 pounds of muscle? You have just increased your fat burning capacity 16% over what you started out with. Essentially, you are increasing the size of your fat-burning furnace and you will burn more calories each elliptical machine workout session.
The way to get started is to do simple, no-weight exercises. Deep knee bends with just your body for your legs. Do push-ups, even if it is from the knee for your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Bend over at the waist and pull something of moderate weight into your mid-section for your back and biceps. This is the place to start. Suggestion: instead of just finding something of moderate weight to do a rowing motion with, go to the store, even Wal-Mart, and get some cheap exercise bands you can hook on your feet and do a rowing motion. This may be a good idea anyway as you will get an exercise chart showing you exercises for all body parts.