Upper Body Workout on an Elliptical Trainer

Can you really get a good upper body workout on an elliptical trainer?  Those of you who are familiar with elliptical trainers know that they come with movable handlebars for working the upper body.  Being able to work the upper and lower body simultaneously makes it possible to get more efficient exercise in a shorter period of time. 

Unfortunately, the majority of those who use elliptical trainers do not adequately utilize the handlebars and, therefore, do not reap the best possible results from their upper body elliptical trainer workouts.  How, then, can you get the best upper body workout from your elliptical machine?

Focus on the Upper Body

Perhaps the main problem with using the handlebars on an elliptical trainer is that most people do so absent-mindedly.  They simply grip the bars with their hands, follow through with the motion, and let the machine do all the work.  While it’s true that they will reap some benefit in this manner, it will be very limited.

To really work the muscles in the upper body and to get a more efficient cardio workout, you need to concentrate on fully pulling and pushing the handlebars, using the force of your body.  Don’t rely on the machine to do all the work for you!  The more effort you put into consciously working those handlebars, the greater the benefits you will reap!

If you want to target even more muscles, try twisting your body at the waist as you maneuver the handlebars on the elliptical trainer.  The more you twist, push, and pull, the more you’ll feel your muscles burn…a sign of a great workout!  (As they say…”No pain, no gain!”)

Cross-Training Workouts

Fully utilizing the dual action of both the legs and arms on an elliptical trainer can provide a truly effective total body workout.  However, for more variety in your exercise routines and to challenge the body even further, you might consider additional cross-training activities.

For instance, alternately work for ten minutes on the elliptical machine followed by ten minutes of strength training.  You may perform the strength training intervals with free weights, on a home gym, or by merely engaging in resistance exercises such as pushups or isometrics. 

This type of cross-training done regularly will lead to improved muscular strength, improved heart health, and an improved metabolism.  It will also improve your performance, agility, and balance.  Your risk of injury during exercise sessions will decrease significantly.  You will soon achieve a higher level of fitness, which should motivate you to set new fitness goals and to work even harder and more consistently. 

The Popular Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainers continue to grow in popularity among today’s athletes…both experienced and novice.  What are a few of the top reasons why people choose elliptical trainers over other fitness machines? 

  1. Versatility – When using an elliptical trainer, it’s very common to engage both the upper and lower body at the same time.  Nevertheless, the user may choose to work predominantly the lower body from time-to-time.  When doing so, the user may grasp the handlebars and let the machine do most of the upper body work or choose not to use the movable handlebars at all.  At other times, the individual may put his/her all into the upper body exercise, allowing the effort of the arms to basically control the foot pedals.  The variety of built-in programs and levels of resistance provide even more versatility.
  2. Exercise efficiency – Most types of fitness equipment do not fully engage the whole body at once.  Elliptical trainers do!  This means that more muscles are utilized during a workout…more body parts are involved.  As a result, workouts are more efficient and provide more effective outcomes.  (FYI: Fully striving to work both the upper and lower body together can certainly increase the exercise challenge!)
  3. Low-impact – Whether you’re climbing an imaginary hill or doing laps around a virtual track, the exercise on an elliptical trainer is very low-impact.  Your feet never leave the foot pedals, so there’s never any jarring or undue force to the knees, back, hips, ankles, or other body parts.   

If you enjoy exercising on an elliptical trainer and want to see the best results possible, don’t let your feet do all the work!  Use your arms and get a good upper body workout, too!  Soon, you’ll notice improvement in your overall fitness!

Written by Cyndi Waters, Fitness Researcher and Writer 

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