Here’s how to do HIIT with the elliptical machine for a killer fat burning workout.
Don’t let the smooth pedaling motion of this machine fool you into thinking that this device can’t crush a lot of fat via high intensity interval training.
The elliptical machine for HIIT is useful for people who are not able to run full force, either due to poor physical condition, overweight, or knee problems.
Such individuals can still put forth a gigantic HIIT workout on the elliptical machine and thus burn much fat.
The most effective way to do HIIT on the elliptical trainer is to choose a model that does not have the arm bars — which are shown below.
For significant fat burn, you want your legs and buttocks to do all the work, since these are the body’s largest muscle groups.
Forget the arm bars and instead just move arms in a synchronized fashion at your sides, as your legs pedal away on the machine.
These just get in the way and create a distraction. You will NOT burn more calories or fat with this particular model. Your legs make the arm bars move, not your arms or shoulders.
The arm bar mechanism and the pedals are one and the same, and do NOT move independently of each other.
I do not endorse holding onto the elliptical aside from just a very light, minimal contact with the fingertips to the machine to keep posture in check.
I’ve seen people gripping the elliptical console and rails, which creates poor posture and may lead to back strain.
Keep your body straight and in correct posture as you pedal, and place fingertips lightly on the rails ONLY if you feel like you are going to fall off.
For optimal fat-burning using the elliptical machine, keep your hands off the equipment entirely — unless it’s time for that balance check.
As with any HIIT session, warm up first on the elliptical.
HIIT segments should be 30 seconds, and can be done in a variety of ways, such as light pedal tension and very high RPMs, as fast as you possibly can, forwards or backwards.
Or, you can use heavy pedal tension and still try to go as fast as possible, with the understanding that you will not be able to pedal nearly as fast as with a light tension.
Whichever combination you choose, your HIIT interval should be so fierce, that it should take 90 seconds to two minutes before you are ready to perform another one — 90-120 seconds of gentle, relaxed pedaling at a light tension for heart rate recovery.
An example would be level 7 at 300 RPM for the high intensity component; and level 7 again at 80 or so RPM for the recovery.
Another example of a work interval would be level 12 at 150-200 RPM. You can also vary the pedal angle.
Don’t blow off the elliptical as an effective HIIT tool for burning fat. When you really pump your hardest on this equipment, you will get a significant fat-burning effect.
A good HIIT session with the elliptical machine should last 25-30 minutes, excluding warm-up and cool-down.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.