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So you finally invested in your own elliptical machine at home. Great choice! Ellipticals are simple to use and deliver effective, efficient workouts for any level exerciser. What’s more, they target the entire body and are low-impact, which means less jarring on your joints and greater motivation to work hard.

While everyone starts an exercise routine with good intentions, statistics show that up to 50% quit within the first six months. Having an elliptical machine at home makes it more convenient to exercise, but that may not motivate everyone to adhere to a consistent routine over time. Once you get your elliptical machine home, consider the following recommendations:

  • Placement – Where you put your machine matters. Ideally, locate it in a family room or workout area where you will see it often – instead of a dark, dank basement where the environment isn’t welcoming. Although it sounds simple, if your machine is by a TV or window, for instance, you may be more inclined to use it. If the basement is the only area you have to exercise, then clean up a bit, add some lighting and plants or motivational posters.
  • Goal – You’re more likely to stay committed to your routine if you keep your eyes on the prize, whether that is losing weight, gaining energy or building stamina. Write down your goal and post it where you will be reminded of it.
  • Schedule – Sometimes people think that with equipment at home, they can easily exercise at any time. But regular workouts don’t just happen based on free time. Plan when you will exercise and keep your schedule in your calendar.
  • Variety – Doing the same workout every session can lead to boredom. Take advantage of all the workouts in your elliptical machine to better challenge your body and mind. More on this below.
  • Motivators – If catching up on your favorite TV shows gets you on the elliptical machine, then have a TV nearby. Or rent some movies to keep you going. Use an iPod or smartphone and keep a pair of headphones on your machine so you can jam out to tunes, or grab your Kindle and listen to books on tape. Enable whatever works to keep you moving consistently.
  • Everything counts – Don’t skip your workout because you can’t carve out 30 minutes one day. Do whatever you can, because 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise is better than none at all. With an elliptical at home, you have no excuse not to use it regularly.

Get Acquainted

Most premium ellipticals are intuitive, whether you selected a traditional standing model, a recumbent elliptical, a lateral elliptical or an incline elliptical. They are made to get on and go, but you can maximize your workout benefits and safety if you first get familiar with a few things:

  1. Stationary handlebars – Use these for stepping on and off the elliptical to keep your balance. You also can use the stationary handlebars to rest your arms during workouts and focus on the legs.
  2. Foot pedals – While holding the stationary handlebars, step on the pedals with your toes toward the front lip and your feet centered from each side. Push down and pull up through each leg equally; don’t lock your knees and let your heels lift naturally on the upstroke. Keep equal pressure on the downstroke and upstroke, and try to minimize bounce. Move forward and backward (or side-to-side, or on an incline, if you have those features).
  3. Moving handlebars – The handlebars should move naturally in synch with the legs, and Octane elliptical machines feature MultiGrip handlebars that let you move your hands into a variety of positions for greater effectiveness and comfort. Take advantage of various placements to emphasize different muscles, and be sure to hold that handlebars loosely; don’t clench your hands.
  4. Posture and stride – Stand up tall, pull your navel to your spine and tuck your tailbone slightly so you don’t overarch the back. Breathe naturally, and move fluidly in different directions. If your machine has adjustable stride length, play with that to feel the difference among several lengths.

Capitalize on Various Workouts

To get the maximum benefits from your elliptical machine, take advantage of the many workouts it offers to challenge your body in different ways and see results. Specific programs vary according to the machine you have, but most high-end models have some forms of custom workouts, interval training, interactive heart rate routines and steady-state regimens. Try different workouts often to see which ones you like the best.

You can check out programs while nosing around the console while you are on the elliptical, review your program manual (you should still have it if your elliptical is new!), or consult the manufacturers’ web site for guidance.

Here’s a quick summary for Octane Fitness ellipticals:

  • Manual and Custom Interval – With these regimens, you’re in total control of the resistance and interval frequency and duration. You can change anything, anytime.
  • Random and Interval – Here, the elliptical alternates periods of lower and higher intensity levels to keep your body guessing.
  • Goal programs – These can be calorie or distance goals, and the machine sets the resistance or workout duration to ensure that you meet the goal. What’s nice is you can measure your progress over time – seeing how much faster you can cover a specific distance as you get more fit, for instance.
  • Interactive heart rate routines – Workouts like Fat Burn and Cardio are driven by your heart rate response, automatically adjusting resistance levels to keep you within a customized heart rate range, or at a specific high end or low point. These are great to ensure that you’re training at the correct intensity.
  • Stride length programs – On machines with adjustable stride length routines such as Power Walk and Dual Direction change the stride length and the direction of the motion for variety throughout the session.
  • Workout Boosters – Exclusive to Octane machines, these inspire the ultimate in cross training. X-Mode, GluteKicker and ArmBlaster require you to perform short bursts of various movements, such as squat, lean back, reverse, and more, for invigorating intervals that fly by.
  • CROSS CiRCUIT® – Another Octane-only feature, CROSS CiRCUIT combines cardio intervals on the machine with strength-training exercises adjacent to the machine for exceptional efficiency and effectiveness. You can choose the number and duration of intervals and strength exercises for valuable variety and customization for your goals. The machine prompts you throughout to keep you on track.
  • SmartLink™ – Downloading this free app to your iPad® or iPhone® gives you access to 30-, 60-, and 90-day workout plans customized to your goal (Lose Weight, Feel Better, Get Stronger and Athletic Performance) and schedule. You get reminders and motivational tips along the way, and the app tracks your progress. Plus, with SmartLink, CROSS CiRCUIT comes to life with more than 35 workout plants and instructional videos that show 225 exercises. Bonus!
  • On the fly changes. Remember, you’re never locked into a specific workout. If you start one program and aren’t feeling it, then you can change programs in the middle of your session. It’s better to mix up your routines mid-stream than quit altogether. Find something you enjoy for that day, and make it happen!