Elliptical Trainer Workout for Beginners

Woman on elliptical
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If you're just getting started with exercise, this elliptical workout will help you ease your way into cardio exercise. The elliptical trainer is a great choice if you need less stress on the joints while conditioning your heart and lower body. It gives you a low impact workout, without the jarring you would get with running on the treadmill. It can be easier on the knees and hips while getting your blood pumping and your lungs expanding.

Precautions for this Workout

See your doctor before trying this workout if you any illnesses, injuries or you're on medication that may affect your heart rate or workouts. Low-impact cardio exercise is often recommended to reduce health risks and maintain physical conditioning. But your situation is individual.

Equipment Needed:

You will need an elliptical or cross trainer. You can use one at the gym if you don't have one at home. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with any new piece of equipment. Where are the controls for resistance and ramps? How do you increase and decrease them?

How To Do the Beginner Elliptical Workout

  • Follow each segment of the workout, working to find a pace/resistance that allows you to work at the suggested Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
  • Your legs may get tired quickly if you're not used to the elliptical trainer. It takes time to build endurance, so go as long as you can and stop early if you need to. You can go a little longer during the next workout.
  • Perform this workout about 3 times a week with a day of rest in between. 
  • Progress by adding a few minutes each time you workout until you're up to 30 minutes
  • Stretch your lower body after your workout

Beginner Elliptical Workout

5 minutes Warm up at a comfortable pace and keep the resistance or ramps low4
3 MinutesIncrease the resistance and/or ramps 1 to 4 increments or until you're working harder than your warm up pace.  You should feel you're working, but you should be able to carry on a conversation. This is your baseline pace5
2 MinutesIncrease your resistance and/or ramps once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline5-6
3 MinutesDecrease the resistance or ramps back to baseline5
2 MinutesIncrease your resistance and/or ramps once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline5-6
5 MinutesDecrease the resistance or ramps back to a comfortable level to cool down4
 Total Workout Time:  20 Minutes

Good work! Take a good drink of water to ensure you are well-hydrated. Wipe down the equipment with a clean towel. Now hit the showers! 

Progressing with the Elliptical Workout

To progress with this workout, start with adding another 3 minutes of easier ramps at level 5 and then increasing them for two minutes before doing the 5-minute cool down.

You can stay at that level for a week and then add another segment of 3 minutes easier work and 2 minutes harder work. Now you are at the 30 minute level for exercise. This meets the minimum daily exercise guideline for moderate to vigorous physical activity.

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