How To Get A Great Workout On Your Elliptical

How To Get A Great Workout On Your Elliptical | NordicTrack Blog

UPDATED, October 26, 2021

If you see your elliptical machine as the workout equivalent of a Sunday drive—slow, relaxing, and far from high-intensity—you may want more out of your machine. Luckily, there’s a way to get a great workout on your elliptical, and it’s as easy as creating a personalized workout plan and utilizing certain features that are already accessible on your home elliptical. 

A personalized plan can take recovery day workouts to the next level, help you reach new fitness goals, and add some fun to your elliptical routine. Here’s how a little help from NordicTrack and iFIT® can make that ordinary workout extraordinary.

How Does An Elliptical Work

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an elliptical newbie, it’s important to make sure you’re using the equipment properly, safely, and effectively. So, here’s a review of how these machines work and how best to use them. 

Elliptical machines work by allowing you to pump your arms and legs evenly. Using the elliptical should feel similar to walking, running, or climbing, but without the high impact on your joints (1). The result is a cardio workout that targets your upper and lower body at the same time (2).

Using proper form on an elliptical is important because doing so will help you reap the most benefit of each workout you do (3). Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Keep a firm grip on the handles.
  • Don’t lean in any direction.
  • Keep a small bend in your arms and legs.
  • Make sure your feet stay flat.
  • Stick to forward pedaling if you’re a beginner (backward pedaling is an advanced technique).
  • Always keep your abdominal muscles engaged.

To get the most out of your workout, it’s also important to know how elliptical intensity is measured. Although every machine is different, here are a few things to keep your eye on:

Incline And Decline

NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer Series Ellipticals offer a 10% incline to 10% decline range, meaning you can take your workout uphill and downhill to your heart’s content. Exercising with a different incline or decline range creates a more intense workout and allows you to work out different muscles at these different levels and intensities (4).


Resistance is a measurement of how difficult it is to move the elliptical pedals. Higher resistance means you’re working harder on your elliptical, which increases intensity (2).


Just like on a treadmill, you can control the speed of your elliptical, anywhere from a leisurely stroll to a refreshing run.

Fitness level

Your overall fitness level impacts the intensity of your workout. Pay attention to your body’s signals to judge how hard you’re working.

Benefits Of An Elliptical Workout Plan

Great Elliptical Workout Plan – NordicTrack Blog

An elliptical workout plan takes the guesswork out of your fitness routine. It can help you reach your fitness goals while freeing yourself up to have some fun.

Here are a few reasons why an elliptical workout plan is about to become your new best friend.

It Maximizes The Benefits Of Elliptical Workouts

Ellipticals are a home gym favorite and for good reason. You can target your core, upper body muscles, lower body muscles, and glutes all potentially on this one machine and possibly without leaving home, depending on the effort that you put in, your workout plan, and your own health (4). By simply adding some NordicTrack dumbbells into your elliptical workout plan, you’ll also be fulfilling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which recommend regular muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week (5). 

Furthermore, to make sure all of the effort you’re putting into your elliptical workouts is benefiting you, you’ll need a personalized workout plan. Creating a plan and committing to a regular workout routine can help you use your elliptical to its fullest potential and achieve potential fitness and health goals. 

It Automates Your Workout

Trying to improve overall fitness without a plan is like trying to get to another city without a roadmap. If you want to enjoy the journey instead of worrying that you’re about to miss an exit, you’ll want to automate your workout. That way, you won’t have to wonder if you’re working one muscle group more than another, perhaps burning fewer calories than your goal or otherwise dropping the ball on your exercise goals.

It Helps You Visualize Your Progress

Visible progress can be a huge motivator, and an elliptical workout plan puts that progress within reach. You’ll set actionable goals and work towards fulfilling them, and as you get stronger and leaner, you’ll be able to set larger goals. It’s an easy way to make sure every great elliptical workout feels like a step towards improvement.

See your workout stats for yourself in real-time on NordicTrack ellipticals. With incredible Smart HD touchscreens, you get front row access to your workout stats before, during, and after your workout.

Designing Your Own Elliptical Workout

Your elliptical workout plan doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. To start designing a plan that grows with you, challenges you, and makes every workout a great workout, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.

Your Health

Physical condition and medical history both have a role to play in your elliptical workout plan. If you have any health concerns, consult with your primary care physician before you start your new workout routine, and take it slow on your home elliptical.

Your Schedule

Trying to cram an elliptical workout into your schedule could be stressful, so design a plan that fits into your day-to-day life. 

For example, instead of spending an hour straight on your NordicTrack elliptical, try to snag multiple 10-minute workouts throughout your day. iFIT has a large library of accessible workouts 24/7.

Your Existing Workout Routine

You don’t have to give up your other workouts to make room for the elliptical. Instead, find a way to add it into the mix. If you’re not sure where to begin, iFIT has an array of interval training workouts that were created to do on and off of an elliptical machine. 

Your Mind

An elliptical is great for working your body physically, but if you don’t switch your activity up, there’s the possibility of getting bored and unmotivated to do anything at all. That’s why it’s important to add some variety to your exercise plan by trying different elliptical workouts. 

NordicTrack and iFIT have taken this into consideration and created many different workout programs that give you total control over what you do every single day. Design your weekly elliptical workouts with different personal trainers, different locations, different intensities, even different machines. Your iFIT workout options are many!   

Tips For A Great Elliptical Workout

Elliptical Workouts iFIT – NordicTrack Blog

Even the best elliptical workout plan has some room for improvement. Here are some tips to make sure you get a great workout every time you step on your machine.

Utilize The Incline For Challenging Exercises

One way to pump up your elliptical exercises is to utilize the incline function specifically for muscle sculpting (6). According to research by the Royal Central Gymnastics Institute in Sweden, the climb will engage different muscle groups and help strengthen your core as you hold yourself steady during your workout (7).

To challenge yourself further, use your elliptical incline feature. This helps to target muscles in your lower body like calves or glutes (2).

Focus On Evenly Working Your Upper And Lower Body

It’s easy to get so focused on your feet and legs that you neglect your arms while on your elliptical. Don’t let your lower body do all the work. Instead, make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout by keeping your arms engaged in the exercise. With every step, make sure you’re actively pulling and pushing along with your legs. 

This active motion comes with a lot of benefits. In fact, a study published in Biology of Sport found that upper extremity muscles were more activated on an elliptical than a treadmill or stationary bike (8).

Add HIIT To Your Elliptical Workouts

You may not have to dedicate hours to your elliptical workouts to reap the most benefit. Instead, choose to do some high intensity interval training (HIIT) in as little as 15 minutes a day to see real benefits (9). 

To begin adding HIIT to your elliptical workouts, alternate between moderate effort and short bursts of intense effort. Try to spend 2 minutes at your normal speed and 30 seconds pushing yourself at your maximum speed. As you become more comfortable with your HIIT elliptical workout, you can include more resistance and incline to make it more challenging. 

If you need some guidance and motivation to get started with HIIT, check out HIIT enthusiast Hannah Eden in her Bolivia Beginner Cardio HIIT Workout Series on iFIT. Her contagious positive attitude and explosive moves make working out an experience to remember. Not to mention you’ll be touring all around the beautiful country of Bolivia. 

Start exploring with Hannah today by signing up for your free 30-Day iFIT Trial*, and access Hannah’s workout here

Make Every Workout An Adventure

For another motivating, entertaining, and challenging approach to getting a great workout on your elliptical, check out iFIT trainer, Aron Ralston, in his Colorado Mountaineering Series on iFIT. As you take your elliptical workout to new heights on your NordicTrack, Aron will introduce new approaches to dealing with physical, as well as mental, challenges and how to overcome them.    


Whether it’s a personalized exercise plan or a new adventure with iFIT, there are plenty of ways to get a great workout on your elliptical. And as long as you’re putting in consistent effort, you should achieve the results that you seek in time. 

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. NordicTrack assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment. Shipping times are dependent on in-stock inventory and delivery timeframes may vary. Make sure to check the website for any specific delays in delivery and shipping.
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