How To Use An Elliptical Machine: A Beginner’s Guide

How To Use An Elliptical Machine: A Beginner's Guide

Elliptical machines are popular because they offer a low-impact workout that’s easy on your joints. Ellipticals can also help you burn more fat and calories than traditional cardio workouts.

Just like treadmills, you’ll often find ellipticals at the gym.

But for newcomers, the burning question is: How to use an elliptical machine?

As a personal trainer, I know that many are still unfamiliar with the elliptical machine. And they don’t know how to use an elliptical properly.

For this reason, I created this beginner’s guide to help you get started with the elliptical machine as quickly as possible.

Note: It is important to remember that elliptical machines are cardio machines, so they will make your heart and breathing rate faster. Consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you have existing health conditions.

So, how to use an elliptical machine?

Keep reading.

12 Steps on How to Use an Elliptical Machine

If you’re new to elliptical machines, it can be a bit intimidating at first. But with these 12 steps, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert in no time.

1) Step onto the Machine

Approach the elliptical machine and confidently step onto the pedals, facing the monitor. Please ensure your feet are securely placed on the pedals to maintain stability.

2) Maintain Proper Grip

Hold onto the handles provided for support, which will help you maintain balance and stability throughout your workout.

You might notice that there are two pairs of handles on the machine. The longer handles are the moveable arms, and the shorter handles are the stationary ones.

The movable arms move in sync with the pedals and can help provide an upper-body workout.

I recommend holding on to the stationary handles first until you feel stable.

3) Check Your Posture

Maintain an upright posture, with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Engaging your core muscles will help stabilize your body throughout the workout.

4) Start Pedaling

Begin pedaling to activate the machine. Most ellipticals have a convenient “Quick Start” button.

If the machine did not turn on, check the console and press the power button.

5) Maintain a Consistent Pace

Pedal in a smooth and controlled motion, ensuring both your feet stay connected to the pedals at all times. Avoid bouncing or jerky movements for a more effective workout.

6) Incline Adjustment

Many ellipticals offer an incline feature that simulates uphill terrain. Gradually increase the incline to intensify your workout and engage different muscle groups.

7) Resistance Settings

Challenge yourself by adjusting the resistance level. Higher resistance provides a more demanding workout, while lower resistance is suitable for warming up or active recovery.

8) Try Pedaling Backwards

Like bikes, ellipticals offer a reverse pedal option.

Change the direction of your pedaling to target different muscle groups, such as your hamstrings and glutes. Start with a slow pace and adjust as needed.

9) Try Using the Movable Arms for Extra Challenge

Hold the movable handles and move them back and forth in time with your pedaling motion.

This variation will target different muscle groups, resulting in a more complete workout — not just your lower body.

10) Utilize Heart Rate Sensors

Take advantage of the built-in heart rate sensors on the elliptical handles. Place your hands on these sensors to conveniently monitor your heart rate throughout your workout.


11) Target Heart Rate Zone

To maximize your cardiovascular workout, aim to maintain your heart rate within your target zone. Consult with a fitness professional to determine your ideal heart rate range.

12) Stay Hydrated

As with any workout, it’s essential to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle nearby and take regular sips during your exercise session.

How to Use an Elliptical Machine (FAQs)

How long should a beginner use an elliptical?

For beginners, I recommend starting with a warm-up for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity. Gradually increase the intensity for 2-3 minutes, before returning to a lower intensity for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this cycle for 20-30 minutes.

Is it OK to use an elliptical every day?

While daily use is possible, aiming for 150 minutes per week on the elliptical is more effective. This translates to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, striking a balance between consistency and recovery.

Is it better to use the elliptical with or without shoes?

Choosing between barefoot and wearing shoes on the elliptical depends on your comfort and goals. Going barefoot can strengthen foot and leg muscles for better stability, while shoes provide cushioning and support to prevent discomfort and strain.


Learning how to use an elliptical machine is not hard, but it takes some getting used to.

Generally, ellipticals are straightforward to use. You can just hop onto the machine and start pedaling immediately.

However, safety and comfort should always be a priority. I hope this article has been helpful in explaining how to use an elliptical machine.

If you still need some guidance, you can ask someone to teach you or watch tutorials online on how to do it.

About The Author

Inge van Haselen is a personal trainer, health coach, and home gym owner. She has been coaching hundreds of clients for over 17 years in her gym. It’s her passion to provide an online resource regarding home gym equipment.



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