What Muscles Does an Elliptical Machine Target?

April 8, 2013 10:57 am
What Muscles Does an Elliptical Machine Target?

The story behind the invention of elliptical machines is an interesting one. An employee of General Motors made a film of his daughter running alongside his car and found that the legs of his daughter moved in an elliptical motion. This struck him with the idea that he sold to a company and later resulted in the manufacture of the first elliptical trainer. This fitness machine provided a smooth cardio workout like a treadmill but without the usual wear and tear of muscles and strain on the joints. While the early elliptical machines took care of heart and muscles in the lower body only, there are many models of elliptical machines today that allow workout of upper body muscles also.

The fact that there are elliptical with handle bars that are also movable means that you can tone up muscles in your shoulders and chest in addition to getting exercise for your legs and thighs. But if you are to be asked the different muscles of your body that you can work out with the help of an elliptical, it is a hard question to answer. Let us find out the answer to this teaser in this article.

If we go by the thoughts of the person who devised the first elliptical machine, elliptical workouts provide low impact aerobic exercise. This means they are easy on one’s joints such as hips and knees but effective on the heart as they raise the heart rate. In addition to the cardio workout, exercising on elliptical is considered to be good for toning up of lower body muscles, especially muscles of calves, thighs, hamstrings, quads, glutes etc. The elliptical workout routines, no matter what the objective of the user, take great care of the health of his heart, which incidentally also happens to be a muscle of the body.

There are people who feel that elliptical trainers are just like treadmills without the wear and tear of muscles in legs and thighs. This is only partially true as elliptical trainer workouts are indeed low impact but they provide workout to many more muscle groups than just those around legs. The thing to remember is that the workouts from elliptical machines are aerobic and only tone up muscles and are not meant for bodybuilding.


Heart is the major organ and muscle that gets great workout with the help of elliptical workouts. In fact, elliptical trainers are known for their ability to provide low impact cardio workouts. Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is a very popular elliptical trainer known for its ability to provide smooth and effective cardio workout.


Calve muscle is located just below the knees on the back side of the legs. This muscle can be toned easily with the help of elliptical trainers but you will need to pedal backwards instead of the normal pushing of the pedals forward. Schwinn 520 Recumbent Elliptical Trainer is a big hit these days among those with back problems as it has a recumbent seat that takes care of the back of the individual during workouts.

Quadriceps muscle

These muscles are found below the knee in front of the thigh. The elliptical motion of the foot pedals workout these quadriceps automatically even if you are not able to sense this workout. If you want strong quads, all you have to do is to increase the resistance level of the elliptical trainer or make use of the incline to make the workout more intense.


Hamstrings get worked out with the natural elliptical motion of an elliptical trainer. These muscles are at the back of your legs above the knees and doing exercises on an elliptical tone up these muscles to make them stronger.

Glutes muscles

Glutes do not automatically get worked out with the natural elliptical motion of an elliptical trainer. In order to strengthen your glutes, do not push along the pedals through your toes but make use of your toes to force the pedals.

Upper body muscles

You can work out your upper body muscles on elliptical by making use of the handlebars. It is by pushing and pulling these handlebars that you can strengthen the muscles in your shoulder, back, arms, and chest. These include the biceps, the triceps, and the pectoral muscles. Schwinn 450 Elliptical Trainer is a popular elliptical trainer that has movable handles to provide a good workout for your upper body.

Elliptical machines are designed to provide smooth cardio workouts to users without exerting themselves. They are low impact in nature and people with joint problems love these trainers. These trainers also provide workouts to different muscle groups.

  • Good for the health of your heart;
  • Great for lower body workout toning up your calves, thighs, glutes, quadriceps etc;
  • Elliptical trainers with handlebars also provide upper body workouts to strengthen shoulder and chest muscles in addition to biceps and triceps.
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