See how to do a HIIT workout with an elliptical machine

WWhen you think of HIIT workouts, you probably think of bootcamp classes like Barry’s, Orangetheory, or Tone House, aka America’s Toughest Workout. These intense boutique fitness classes, while modifiable, offer an exhilarating workout experience that is sure to leave you breathless, if not sore, soon after. That’s one of the biggest downfalls of so many HIIT classes: They can be incredibly high impact, putting your muscles, ligaments, and joints at risk with every lift, jump, and bear crawl. Fortunately, there are also low-impact HIIT workouts, including HIIT workouts with an elliptical machine.

Yep, you don’t have to shell out a lot of money for an effective low-impact, high-intensity workout. You can head straight to the gym and hop on an elliptical trainer for a body-shaking regimen that won’t harm your joints.

The benefits of doing HIIT workouts on an elliptical trainer

“Elliptical trainers are a great way to get a challenging, low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout,” says Amy Schemper, BowFlex Consultant, CPT. “Elliptical trainers allow you to work according to your fitness level, changing your resistance and speed accordingly.”

Plus, HIIT workouts on ellipticals get your heart pumping in record time, making them super effective for high-intensity interval training and cardio. “It only takes a few minutes to get your heart rate up,” says Schemper. “By increasing speed, resistance, or both, you can increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re looking for a quick cardio and energy boost, try spending five to 10 minutes on the elliptical with varying resistance; if your goal is longer resistance training, 20-30 minutes or more with constant resistance and speed is ideal.

A great thing about elliptical trainers is that they are accessible to all strength and endurance levels. “Ellipticals work for beginners who just want to get up and moving, as well as more advanced exercisers who use resistance and speed for HIIT and resistance training,” says Schemper.

Another highlight? You can easily multitask while working out on an elliptical trainer, even if you’re pushing yourself to the max. Whether you’re at the gym or at home, you can watch your favorite shows, listen to fun podcasts, or even read a book.

How to do a HIIT workout with an elliptical

Simply hopping on the elliptical and wandering around won’t give you the blood-pumping effect of HIIT. To significantly increase your heart rate, Schemper says you need to adapt the resistance and be mindful of the length of your steps and where you place your hands.

“Your endurance will be determined by a number of factors: your individual fitness level, how long you’ll be on the elliptical, and what your training goals are,” she says. “It’s a good idea to start with a quick warm-up of a few minutes at low resistance – between one to three minutes – and then progress to a resistance that makes you a bit more challenging for most of the workout. If you’re working in intervals, you can increase your intensity or speed for a short 20-30 second burst, then recover at a lower resistance for 30-90 seconds.

When it comes to increasing intensity, you want to work at 70 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate during your work intervals. So on the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale, this is a seven to nine out of 10, with 10 being total exertion.

The reason your stride length matters is because your stride plays a direct role in how quickly you’ll be able to move. “Stride length on the elliptical should be similar to your walking or running pace, so it’s important to move comfortably,” says Schemper. “Taking smaller steps allows you to increase speed but decrease resistance, often working your calf muscles more intensely; Bigger steps increase your endurance, working all your lower body muscles and improving range of motion.”

Lastly, your hands. According to Schemper, hold the handles. Unlike gripping a treadmill mid-stride, using your hands on an elliptical doesn’t trick your muscles. Instead, it makes you more stable, allowing you to exercise more safely while providing a full-body workout.

“The straps provide security and shape and can increase muscle engagement in your workout — use them to maintain proper posture, keeping your chest open, shoulders back, and core engaged,” she says, noting that it’s okay to lean forward slightly, for a long time. how can you keep a straight spine. “The handles are also linked to the resistance of the elliptical, allowing you to push and pull with your upper body. This gives you the opportunity to engage your arms, shoulders, back, and core, while also taking some of the load off your legs.

HIIT elliptical workouts to try

Now that you know the importance of stamina, stride, and grip, it’s time to talk about sets. According to Schemper, it’s best to keep things simple. “After a two- to three-minute warmup, increase your resistance, speed, or incline for 30 seconds, then slow down to a 60-second recovery,” she instructs. During recovery, think about going back to two to five on the RPE scale, depending on how hard you’re working.

Another option? Maintain the intensity throughout the workout, but changing the resistance. To do this, follow Schemper’s guidelines, below.

10-Minute HIIT: (Warm up for 2-3 minutes at low intensity before starting the workout below.)

  • Minute 1: Resistance 1
  • Minute 2: Resistance 3
  • Minute 3: Resistance 2
  • Minute 4: Resistance 5
  • Minute 5: Resistance 4
  • Minute 6: Resistance 7
  • Minute 7: Resistance 6
  • Minute 8: Resistance 9
  • Minute 9: Resistance 8
  • Minute 10: Cooldown: Stamina 2–3

Lastly, Schemper suggests a pyramid HIIT workout. After a two- to three-minute warmup with low resistance, she says to increase the resistance by one for one minute. When the 60 seconds are up, she rests for 60 seconds and increases her stamina to the next level (i.e. level 2). After reaching the top of the pyramid, rest for 60 seconds and then go down the same way.

Ultimately, the length of your pyramid workout will depend on how much time you have, but as a general rule of thumb, your HIIT workout shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes if you’re really going to give it your all.

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