Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Elliptical Workouts: For Total Body Toning!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE the ellptical...mostly becuase I hate running, but also because it burns a lot of calories, but can also activate so many different muscles!
Ellipticals are those machines in the gym that burn a lot of calories, save the joints, and are not as tasking as running. They are practically the perfect cardio. However, sometimes that repetitive arm and leg circular movement can get boring, especially if the elliptical has been your cardio of choice for months and years. Boring means no longer challenging. In order to keep experiencing health gains from exercise it has to challenge you. Here are a few ways to change up your elliptical workout to keep it challenging, interesting, and work your whole body.
The Moves
Use just the arms. Relax the legs a little (not so much that you fall off of course) and only use your arms to propel the elliptical. Try to keep a fast pace. If this is not challenging enough, increase the resistance so your arms really feel the burn.
Push with your arms only. With your legs still relaxed, lean forward slightly, open your palms and only push on the handlebars, do not pull. You will target your triceps and chest muscles.
Pull with your arms only. Hook your hand behind the handlebars and pull on them only, still not using your legs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull back. This will work your biceps and your back.  All three of these moves will help tone the upper body and spike your heart rate for added cardiovascular gains.
Single arm isolation. For the ultimate arm challenge, let go of one of the handles so you are now just holding on with one hand. Still keeping the legs relaxed, propel the elliptical with only one arm.
Legs only pedal forward. This time focus on only using your legs. Your arms are simply there for balance control. Remember to increase the resistance, especially if you do this following isolation of the upper body. The lower body is typically stronger and can withstand greater resistance.
Legs only pedal backward. Same concept, but now reverse the elliptical so you are pedaling backwards. This puts a greater emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings.
Squat low backwards. Take your hands off the moving handlebars and put them on the stationary handles. Squat low and push your hips and butt backwards so that as you pedal, your knees stay behind your toes. This will really work your glutes.
The balance challenge. Take both hands off the elliptical and balance while pedaling both forward and backward. This will engage your core and help with general coordination too. 
Alternate these 8 moves during your workout and you will get an awesome workout for your biceps, triceps, chest, back, abs, quads, hamstrings and glutes.