Let’s get fun & creative with all the pedaling variations you can do backwards on the elliptical trainer–for burning fat and for improving your cardio fitness.

Not only does this add some variety to what might be an increasingly bland routine, but it creates a different pattern of motor neuron recruitment; different muscles get used.

Try it. You will feel the difference.

Going backwards on the elliptical does more to promote good posture than does going forward.

When pedaling forward, it’s easier to allow your butt to stick out and your upper body to lean in.

This is a cheat position if you’re holding onto the equipment. It’s also bad posture.

However, when going backwards on the elliptical, your butt is less apt to start poking out.

The act of pedaling backwards helps keep the butt in more, even if you’re holding onto the rails.


You should go backwards on the elliptical with all the possible settings:

  • low pedal angle, light tension, very fast speed
  • low pedal angle, heavy tension, moderate speed
  • highest pedal angle, light tension, very fast speed
  • highest pedal angle, heavy tension, moderate speed
  • and every combination possible in between.

My favorite is to use a pedal angle that’s about as high as it can go, feet pointed outwards on the foot pads, and a very slight squat to my position.

Without holding onto the elliptical’s bars, and while maintaining straight posture, I then begin going backwards at medium tension and medium speed. This will produce a nice burn and feel in the legs.

Another favorite while going backwards on the elliptical is to crouch down even lower, about to a three-quarters to full squat position, and pedal at between light and medium resistance, moderate speed.

You will get a blasting burn in your quads. If you can do this for only a few minutes, that’s fine.

This is so effective that it’s not necessary to do it for prolonged times.

When pedaling backwards (and forwards for that matter) on the elliptical machine, change up your foot position.

Few people do this. They usually have their toes pointed straight ahead. Point feet outwards sometimes, and point them inwards sometimes.

These changes in foot angle will cause different muscle patterns to be recruited, which means a more comprehensive workout.

Don’t delay; give these creative fun variations of pedaling backwards on the elliptical machine a try the next time you’re at the gym.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.