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Most of us know that eating too many calories causes weight gain, and the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than we consume. The best way to burn calories and help prevent weight gain is through daily activity and exercise. Consider the elliptical machine, which is a great way to exercise and burn maximum calories.


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How to Burn Maximum Calories on an Elliptical

Here are some recommendations to burn a lot of calories on an elliptical:

  1. Try new programs – Skip the manual routine and experiment with new challenges. Premium machines generally offer steady-state, interval and heart rate interactive workouts. Some may automatically change the resistance level, require a different pace or vary stride length. You’ll benefit from different workloads, as stressing the body in new ways increases caloric expenditure.
  2. Change the motion  Go in reverse from time to time, and change your pace from slower to faster. If possible, vary the length of your stride throughout workouts for greater variety. Take your arms out of the action periodically with the stationary handlebars and push the legs harder and faster.
  3. Watch your heart rate – Ditch your book or TV show and monitor your heart rate to ensure that you are in the proper zone – ideally, from 75-85% of your maximum heart rate, throughout the entire workout for best results. Your theoretical maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.
  4. Push yourself – Watch your form and increase the resistance or your pace for short intervals. Look for advanced programs that are designed to challenge you and drive optimum conditioning. You don’t have to choose these for every workout, but don’t ignore them either.
  5. Take on virtual personal trainers – Some ellipticals have built-in features or workouts that add new direction, variety and customization to exercise sessions, such as interval bursts where you change direction or pace for a set period. Octane Fitness has a unique regimen called CROSS CiRCUIT that combines cardio intervals on the machine with strength-training exercises adjacent to the machine. You can pick the duration of intervals, strength exercises and accessories to use, and you benefit from a better workout and various ways to tax your body and boost metabolism.


Elliptical Calorie Burn Estimates



Calorie Burn on Ellipticals

Calorie burn on elliptical machines based on several factors:

  • Body weight – the heavier you are, the more calories you typically burn during exercise
  • Body composition – people with more muscle mass tend to burn more calories
  • Gender – because men can be heavier and have more muscle mass than women, they may burn more calories for the same workout
  • Intensity – greater resistance, a faster pace, a higher heart rate and vigorous intervals increase calorie burn
  • Upper-body work – the more the upper body is actively engaged, the higher the caloric expenditure
  • Duration – the longer the workout, the more calories expended

Make sure to input your body weight on the elliptical before your workout; otherwise, the machine defaults to calculating calories for an “average” 150-pound person. If you weigh less than that, the calorie burn displayed will be an overestimate; if you weigh more, it may underestimate your actual number.

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Keep in mind that these numbers are estimates and can vary significantly by the elliptical manufacturer; without being measured in a lab, you won’t know the exact number of calories burned. Use them as a guideline, or wear a heart rate monitor during workouts that measures caloric expenditure.

According to the Harvard Medical School, you burn approximately 2.16 calories for every pound of body weight during 30 minutes of elliptical use. For example, a 160-pound person would burn about 345 calories during 30 minutes on the elliptical.



Why Ellipticals?

Every level exerciser can capitalize on the many benefits of elliptical machines:

  • Low-impact – Smooth elliptical motion doesn’t stress the ankles, knees, hips or back.
  • Total-body – Unlike many cardio machines, most ellipticals work the upper and lower body simultaneously, resulting in greater muscle involvement for higher caloric expenditure.
  • Multiple muscles – Total-body ellipticals use all the major muscle groups, including the glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, along with the back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. This means more efficient, effective workouts and better conditioning.
  • Versatility – Exercisers can participate in cross training by pedaling forward or backward, targeting only the lower body, isolating the upper body or changing stride length or incline.
  • Variety – Try a traditional standing elliptical, recumbent (seated) elliptical, lateral elliptical (like the LateralX by Octane Fitness) and a multi-motion cross-trainer that offers several different movements (like Octane’s XT-One) for various challenges, greater motivation and better overall conditioning.


Types of Exercise

  • Cardiovascular exercise is anything that keeps your heart rate elevated consistently for a sustained period from 15 minutes to two hours, such as jogging, elliptical training, cycling, rowing, swimming laps, and cross-country skiing.
  • Anaerobic workouts are stop-start activities with bursts of energy required, including strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), sprints, plyometrics and sports like tennis. HIIT sessions are particularly beneficial in burning calories not only during workouts but also for as much as 24-48 hours afterwards by raising the metabolic rate.
  • Strength training burns calories by increasing muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, which means you burn more calories during activity and at rest.
  • Pilates, yoga and stretching are beneficial for building core strength and improving flexibility and balance, but typically aren’t big calorie-burners.

The best way to burn the most calories is to consistently exercise for at least 20-60 minutes or more, several times each week. Vary modalities so that you don’t do the same workout every time. Because your body adapts to the stresses applied to it and becomes more efficient, performing the same workout over time results in fewer calories expended, even with the same effort.

Perform steady-state and interval cardio training and strength sessions using different tools, such as free weights, selectorized or plate-loaded machines, body weight and resistance bands and tubing. Workout outside, experiment with different equipment at the gym, take group exercise classes, hire a personal trainer, try multiple videos and online workouts or join a running or cycling club.