Elliptical trainers can be the ideal mechanism to burn excess fat for many people. These machines can provide you with a great high-resistance workout while keeping you injury-free. Let's look at a few elliptical trainer tips that will help you kick up your fat burning capabilities to the next level.
1. Use Those Moving Arm Levers
While you still can get a decent workout on an elliptical machine that has a stationary frame, using one with arm motion bars will definitely help you burn more fat. It's a simple fact that you will use more energy if you work out both your muscles and leg muscles at the same time than if you were using your legs only.
If you do not use the arm levers, you are wasting a chance to burn more calories within the same workout. It kills me when I see people at the gym who work out on these machines but do not use the moving arms – they just let their arms dangle at their sides and have their legs do all the work. They could be getting so much more out of their workouts, so make sure you do not make this mistake.
2. Adjust the Resistance Level Higher
The harder you work, the more fat you will burn. Try not to use a resistance level that is minimal and does not really push you. If you use a level that is too low, you will be relying more on momentum to do the work rather than exercising yourself, and you will not burn many calories. You should be feeling some resistance from the machine through the entire cycle of motion.
The more you work against resistance, the more energy you use, which leads to greater fat loss.
3. Raise the Incline Level Above the Default Level
It's amazing how much an effect gravity can have on your workout. Gravity is a strong force and it can help you kick up your fat burning levels to new heights. Just a little bit of an increase in incline can give you better results, so make sure you do not use the default incline level (which is usually zero incline).
Monitor Your Revolutions Per Minute (RPMs)
The next time you jump on an elliptical, just stride comfortably and see where your RPMs (revolutions per minute, or SPMs – steps per minute) are. You can consider this your base RPM. Then, during the course of your workout, make sure your RPM level is consistently above your base. A faster motion will surely result in more calories burned.
5. Monitor Your Heart Rate
During your workout, your heart rate corresponds to how hard you are working and how much energy you are spending. As with RPMs, you can stride comfortably at first for a few minutes and see where your heart rate is. This is your base heart rate, so work your heart above this level. Pretty much all elliptical trainers are equipped with heart rate sensors nowdays.
This is also a great tool to monitor your progress over time. If this week you are doing the same workouts at a lower heart rate than a couple weeks ago, it's time to up the level of your workouts. Increase your speed, resistance, or incline (or a combination of them) to get your heart beating faster.
6. Incorporate High Intensity Intervals
This can be a great way to burn more fat from your elliptical trainer workouts. You should alternate between short bursts of high intensity sets and recovery sets during your workouts. The benefits of a high intensity workout are that it will burn more calories, increase your cardiovascular fitness and increase your metabolism, all of which help you lose more fat.
7. Use Preset Workout Routines
Most elliptical trainers have pre-programmed workout routines available on their machines. If you use manual mode and never change any of the levels for your entire workout, you're not getting the most out of your workouts and it's time to switch to the pre-programmed modes.
For example, the trainers at my gym have a few programs available such as "Hill", "Interval", "Cardio" and "Weight Loss". The advantage of using these programs is that they have built in interval sets within them, with self-adjusting resistance and incline levels, so you do not have to worry about fiddling with the controls to change resistance levels or incline during the workout. It automatically does it for you.
This is also great because I can rotate between the programs during the course of the week and do not have to go through the same workout every day. This will certainly help break up the monotony of your workouts, especially if you rely on heavy use of elliptical trainers at the gym or at home.