What Muscles Do Ellipticals Work?

If you find yourself asking the question, “What muscles do ellipticals work?” then you’re in the right place! Today, we’re going to examine exactly what muscles elliptical work activates, allowing you to decide whether this iconic piece of equipment is destined to be the next addition to your health and fitness regimen.


There are some pretty amazing reasons why ellipticals never go out of fashion. A session spent on the elliptical machine may not seem as edgy as time in the weight room or at a CrossFit gym, but offers an abundance of rewards that certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only does this popular piece of workout kit provide a wonderfully low-impact activity, but it also packs a real punch when it comes to full-body engagement.


Better yet, ellipticals are incredibly versatile, suited to supporting the goals of fitness newbies and veterans alike. They are easy to set up and use, both in a home gym or commercial gym setting, and provide a cardiovascular workout that offers intriguing advantages over old-school walking or jogging. So, what muscles does an elliptical work? Read on as we delve into the details.


What Muscles Elliptical Work Sessions Ultimately Target

Time spent on your trusty elliptical machine delivers an aerobic challenge very much akin to that of walking, cycling, or jogging. However, the unique design of the elliptical means that it engages the body more comprehensively. With both the upper and lower body engaged thanks to the handlebars, elliptical fans can enjoy experiencing not only a wake-up call for their leg muscles, but also their arms, glutes, and core.


A Great Leg Workout

In response to the question “What muscles does an elliptical work?”, most would probably think of the legs first and foremost. There is certainly truth in this instinctive response, but of course, the story doesn’t end there. However, before we move on to other body parts, let’s zoom in on how elliptical training activates the leg muscles.


As you push your foot down on the elliptical foot plate, your quadriceps do the work of setting the machine in motion. As your feet glide behind you, your hamstrings take over. Meanwhile, your calves and anterior tibialis do the crucial work of stabilizing your lower leg.


Engaging Glutes and Thighs

When exploring what muscles elliptical work engages, we find that the full posterior chain lights up, which includes not only your hamstrings but also your glute muscles. In fact, an elliptical workout is an excellent way to strengthen and train your glutes and thighs in their totality. This comprehensive exercise will require a revving up of not only your glutes, but also your adductors, abductors, and hip flexors.


Calling On Your Core

Like other forms of dynamic cardiovascular exercise, elliptical training is excellent for getting your core muscles contracting as they stabilize your body throughout its range of motion. Most fitness enthusiasts love the idea of strong abdominals, and the best way to achieve this on an elliptical machine is to ensure that your posture is always erect, your gait symmetrical, and your core muscles actively pulled tight.


Amping Things Up For Your Arms and Upper Body

As advantageous as everything covered so far may be, it is in upper-body engagement that the elliptical machine truly comes into its own. Because of the handles on many elliptical machines—which move in tandem with the pedals—we are able to use not only lower-body strength but also upper-body strength to power our momentum.


As you push the handles away, your triceps and pectoral muscles play their part, and as you pull them back toward your body, your biceps and rhomboids step up to keep things moving. As you can see, in answer to the question of what muscles elliptical work engages, it is perhaps more poignant to wonder if there are any that it doesn’t!


Achieving Great Form For Elliptical Training

As with any exercise, proper form holds the key to maximizing your fitness gains. As you engage your core and keep your back straight, aim to focus on building mind-muscle connection and avoid creating a bouncing or bobbing motion as you get up to speed.


You can vary whether the hamstrings or quadriceps are tasked with a greater portion of the work by altering incline during your elliptical session. A lower incline will trigger greater quadriceps engagement, while a higher incline will call on the posterior chain more intensely. This makes taking advantage of the varied programs featured on many elliptical machines an ideal way to continuously challenge your muscles.


So there you have it. Hopefully, you’ll no longer need to ponder on the question, what muscles do elliptical work—and can pass on your knowledge to other elliptical enthusiasts. As our regular readers will know, we are dedicated to supporting your fitness goals and making selecting the right equipment to achieve the results you desire all the easier. So if you have more burning questions about the kit that we carry here at Total Fitness Equipment, reach out to our team today.

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