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maximizing elliptical workoutsRegardless of if you’re a beginner when it comes to exercise – or if you are a regular  exerciser – you likely want to make sure the time you spend exercising is providing results.  Whether working out at home or the club, you can benefit from low-impact, total-body routines that help build endurance and burn calories and fat by maximizing elliptical workouts. You can choose from a range of resistance levels and move as quickly or as slowly as you prefer.

Ellipticals also are pretty intuitive to use, without a lot of adjustments, so you typically can get on and go. Today, you can choose from several different types of ellipticals. Octane Fitness makes traditional standing elliptical machines; the xRide recumbent elliptical, where you are seated; the LateralX, with side-to-side movement; and the XT-One cross trainer, which incorporates walking, jogging, hiking and climbing. All are terrific for every level of exerciser.

If you’re not sure which routines to take on, read on for recommendations about elliptical workouts for beginning exercisers.

Most ellipticals feature multiple pre-programmed workouts, but the names of routines may vary by manufacturer and the model of the machine. For simplicity, we’ll focus on Octane regimens, and if you’re working on something different, check out which are similar to those described here.

Maximizing Elliptical Workouts

  1. Quick Start or Manual – These are the easiest programs for maximizing elliptical workouts, where you specify the workout duration and manually adjust the resistance level, stride length and/or incline at any time. The machine stays at a constant resistance level until you change it, so these routines are ideal for basic, steady-state workouts.
  1. Interval – Many variations exist on interval routines among different intervals, but the premise is the same. After a preset warm-up, the machine automatically adjusts the resistance level throughout the session, incorporating more intense periods with recovery intervals. So you may go from level 4 to level 7 for a timed interval, and then return to level 4, and so on. Interval training helps boost stamina and metabolism, and often on these programs, you can manually adjust the resistance if the preset levels are too easy or too challenging.
  1. Workout Boosters – Exclusive to Octane Fitness ellipticals, Workout Boosters such as X-Mode, GluteKicker and ArmBlaster add variety and engaging intervals. The machine prompts you to squat, lean back, go in reverse, push with the arms and more for one-minute intervals every two minutes of your session. This is great cross-training to challenge your muscles differently, and helps sessions fly by!
  1. Interactive heart rate – What’s great about these programs is that the intensity is customized to you, based on your heart rate response to the workout. Routines vary, from steady-state (such as Fat Burn or Cardio), to interval sessions, where the resistance automatically changes to keep your heart rate at a pre-specified level or range. Some routines also combine speed with the intervals, prompting you to alternate between slower and faster paces throughout.
  1. Goal – Set your own specific goals in distance or calories here, which helps you see your progress over time. Or try some preset goal programs, such as 10K, which can challenge you to hit that distance in less time as you get more fit.
  1. Specialty – Ellipticals with adjustable stride length typically offer stride length programs, like Octane’s PowerWalk and Dual Direction, that change stride length periodically throughout workouts for a different feel and various challenges.

There really is no one best program for maximizing elliptical workouts – but these are a good place to start. Ultimately, the best thing is to experiment with the machine and its different workouts so that you can identify your favorites and keep up consistent exercise sessions!