Elliptical for Beginnerselliptical


Elliptical machines can be intimidating at first glance, but they combine the natural stride of a treadmill with the ease of a Stairmaster for a total body workout, especially if the machine also has movable poles for your arms. What really makes the elliptical workout unique is that your feet never leave the pedals, therefore providing impact-free exercise (read: easier on the joints). Each week, extend your workout by a few minutes, or add an extra day when you feel ready.

Before you begin: Because machine levels will vary among manufacturers - and because the pace you achieve during each session may vary, too - use the chart below the plan as a guide to make sure you are achieving the right intensity (which will be necessary to calculate activity POINTS® values). And always warm up first by walking in place for a few minutes, and then spend a few minutes stretching all of the major muscle groups, including shoulders, arms, and legs.

Weekly Plan: Do the plan 3 times this week to start.
Target Intensity Time Total Time Per Workout
Low intensity 5 min. 20 minutes
Moderate intensity 3 min.
Low intensity 5 min.
Moderate intensity 2 min.
Low intensity 5 min.
Tip: Always maintain an upright posture while on an elliptical machine. Keep your shoulders back, chin up, and back straight - don’t lean forward over the balance bar or handles.

After each workout:
Stretch for at least five minutes to keep your muscles loose and limber. Remember, stay hydrated by drinking at least one 12-ounce bottle of water

A Reliable Way to Determine The Intensity Level:
Listen to your body's clues to determine the level of intensity of a given activity or workout. Your perceived rate of exertion has been shown to be a pretty accurate measure of intensity level1, so use the chart below as a guide.

Can you
Can you
Is your
Do you
Your intensity
level is...
Yes Yes Regular No Low
Yes No Often and Deep After 10 min. Moderate
Only in short phrases No Rapid and Deep After 3-5 min. High

1 Pollock ML et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 1998; 30 (6), 975.

Before you start

  1. Talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Do not exercise if you have physical problems that might influence your ability to become more active. Stop exercising and call your doctor if you feel dizzy, nauseated, short of breath, or if you feel pain in your chest. If you are more than 40 pounds overweight, you should not work out at a high intensity level without professional supervision. Read our comprehensive safety tip


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