What Muscles Does an Elliptical Machine Target?

By Heather Mark

  • Overview

    What Muscles Does an Elliptical Machine Target?
    What Muscles Does an Elliptical Machine Target?
    It looks easy, but taking that first go on the elliptical trainer will have even the hardiest athletes sweating. Ellipticals provide a total body workout without any painful impact to the joints. What's best is you burn a ton of calories but don't have any lingering side effects afterward.
  • Heart

    Elliptical trainers are mainly for cardio training, so while other muscles in the body are getting a good workout, none of them is being worked like the heart. The non impact motion of the elliptical is gentle on the joints but works just as effectively at raising the heart rate as a treadmill or stairclimber.
  • Core Strength

    Strengthening core muscle groups like the back and abdominals can be tedious. Elliptical trainers are ideal for building up core strength because so much of the workout depends on balance. Having solid core strength helps to eliminate back pain and increase athletic performance. The best way to condition core muscle groups on an elliptical trainer is to simply let go. Don't depend on the handlebars to sturdy yourself while you're feet are working. To take the workout up a level, carry hand weights while you train.


  • Calves

    Sexy legs start with sculpted calves. To maximize your calf workout on an elliptical, you have to reverse direction. Whereas you normally would push off with your toes in a counter clockwise direction, to reverse you have to shift your weight to your heels and spin the foot platforms in a clockwise direction. You'll definitely feel the burn, fatigue sets in much more quickly when pedaling backwards.
  • Glutes

    Working out on an elliptical won't build up your glutes but it will help streamline your muscles from your glutes down. To get the maximum glute workout, make sure you're not driving the motion forward with your toes. With each forward step, place your weight in your heels to engage your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Quads

    Quads get a substantial workout on the elliptical. It tones and firms the thighs without adding any additional bulk. If big, strong quads is what you're after, turn up the resistance or increase the incline, if you have that option.
  • Upper Body

    Using the moving handlebars is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn calories. The motion may help tone the arms but the results will probably be minimal. Once your core strength is more robust, use those light hand weights to work the biceps and triceps as you pedal.
  • © High Speed Ventures 2011