Many people embarking on a workout program do so because they want to lose weight. There are many exercise machines out there that can help with this, but some are better than others. Elliptical fitness machines are one of the most popular types of machines for use at home or in the gym. So many people new to working out ask “can I lose weight on an elliptical machine?” The answer is yes, and here is why you should use an elliptical if your goal is weight loss.
Table Of Contents
Which Muscles Does An Elliptical Use?
The muscles you use in exercise have a large impact on the amount of weight loss you experience. Bigger muscles and muscle groups require more calorific energy to operate, and when energy stored within the muscle is depleted it draws off large stocks of energy or fuel from your fat stocks or dietary intake to replenish. The best fat burning exercise machines tend to operate the larger muscle groups.
These trainers mainly target lower body muscle groups, but also works some upper body muscle groups to a lesser degree.
The lower body muscle groups include the gluteus maximus (buttocks), quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (rear of thigh), calves and lower shin muscles. The thighs and buttock muscles are the big muscle groups that burn big energy, get the heart rate up, burn loads of calories and lead to big weight loss.
The upper body muscles used in an elliptical workout include the pecs(chest), triceps, biceps and core muscles.
The overall effect of using these machines is not to create muscle but to tone and provide cardiovascular exercise (improve heart and lung fitness). The use of big muscles gets the heart going and burn lots of calories, whilst the exercise action also provides a toning workout to the other muscles. Using an elliptical, in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet will lead to weight loss across the whole body with a more toned upper and lower body.
How Many Calories Can I Burn?
It is widely acknowledged that to lose one pound of body fat you need to burn 3500 calories (Mayo Clinic). You can achieve this extra burn by counting your calorific intake via the food you eat and reducing your daily intake (check how many calories you need per day here), or you can eat as always and burn through the excess calories with exercise.
The exercise machines that work the larger muscle groups tend to be the best calorie burners. The treadmill used intensively can help you burn up to 930 calories per hour, an elliptical using arms will help you burn 837 calories per hour and an exercise bike will usually help you to burn 744 calories an hour(figures for 195lb male – check yours here). A rowing machine, used with proper technique and high intensity will burn up to 1000 calories an hour, but these machines are not suitable for the beginner or individuals who have low fitness and strength levels. Whichever machine you choose,to achieve these types of figures you have to work as intensively as you can ensuring you can last the duration of your workout.
Calorie expenditure varies from person to person with age, weight and height so to specifically workout your calorie expenditure you may need a decent heart rate monitor that will allow you to plug in these variables to give an accurate calorie burn figure whilst using these machines.
However specific you want to be with your calorie counting you can rest assured that an elliptical is one of the most effective machines for burning calories through exercise.
Perceived Rate Of Exertion
Perceived rate of exertion is how hard it feels you work whilst burning calories in exercise. Exercise machines such as stair steppers have a high perceived rate of exertion. The user feels they are putting in max effort at high intensity to complete the exercise. Treadmills are similar, using a treadmill can be strenuous. Ellipticals have a lower perceived rate of exertion than many other machines.
When operating this equipment, a number of muscle groups are worked so they share the overall load. This means when you step off an elliptical your muscles are not as traumatised as they might be had you run for the same duration. In effect, you have burned large amounts of calories but haven’t felt so much burn as the load of exercise has been shared around muscles rather than concentrated on one group.
This lower perceived rate of exertion is a key benefit if you are looking to lose weight through exercise. Firstly, your workouts can be of longer calorie burning duration before you feel “all in” but more importantly it is easier to motivate yourself to carry out the next session.
The best exercise machines for losing weight are the ones that you the user can commit to long term use. A treadmill may burn lots of calories but if you can motivate yourself to only use the machine twice or three times a week your calorie burn won’t be as high as a machine you can use daily.
Elliptical exercise machines are great for weight loss because many people can use them daily for long periods and burn far more calories over the months than they might on machines that focus on fewer muscle groups.
Any Other Reasons To Use An Elliptical Fitness Machine For Weight Loss?
Apart from excellent calorie burn potential, low perceived rate of exertion and the use of various muscle groups, a good reason to use these machines are that they are a low impact machine. Essentially throughout the exercise all your body weight is supported and non of the bodies joints are jolted. Also because you are upright all your core muscles used for balance get a good workout.
For someone overweight low impact exercise is beneficial. If you are overweight and embark on high impact activities such as running on a treadmill there is a higher risk you can damage joints. It is calculated that when you run you land on each foot with a force greater than three times gravity. If you are piling extra weight down the impact on joints can be dramatic. It is estimated that 75% of individuals who embark on a running routine give up in the first two weeks through injury. That is not going to help you shift much weight.
These machines will support your joints while you exercise to lose weight and once you are lighter and your muscles more toned and supportive you can move onto higher impact activities that may burn even more calories without so much fear of injury.
How Much Weight Can You Lose?
We have already discussed how many calories you need to burn to lose one pound of fat (3500 calories) and we have seen that using an elliptical for an hour can burn 650 calories. Simply put, if you only intake the calories you need and then operate at a deficit through exercise you can burn a pound of fat off in about 6 days. Of course, you could lose more weight through dietary controls whilst completing your workout routine but most dieticians only recommend loosing weight at the rate of a pound a week (Centers of Disease Control And Prevention).
However much weight you intend to loose these machines can be a great piece of equipment to help you. High calorie burn, low impact, low perceived rate of exertion and all over toning make this machine one of the most popular machines to use to lose weight. If you have never tried an elliptical before check out the cheap stamina 55-1610 inmotion elliptical trainer. This is a small home trainer that can give you an idea of whether a larger elliptical may be suitable for you before you go spending big money. If you know an elliptical is for you and want a decent home elliptical that won’t cost thousands check out the Schwinn 420 elliptical machine.