Professional fitness trainer monitoring exercise on elliptical machine

How to Rock Your First Elliptical Workout

Want to do cardio, but don't want the endless wear and tear of long distance running? Stop walking past the Elliptical Machine! This form of cardio exercise replicates running, walking or stair climbing movements without any excess pressure on ankle, hip or knee area muscles- which means better outcome with lesser risk involved. 

But if using gym equipment is a somewhat vexing proposition then here's great news -we have prepared an easy-to-follow beginner-level workout plan. It's designed keeping in mind everything, including machine set-up, resistance adjustment and incline; pace and intensity monitoring - so you needn't fear finishing last or losing your breath amongst other gym users. Our after-workout cooling down routine is comprehensive too, complete with stretching exercises. So don't worry- just follow our guide and get ready for an elliptical workout without any hurdle!

How to Set Up the Elliptical Machine

Before you hop on the elliptical machine, you need to make sure it’s set up properly for your height and comfort. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Adjust the pedals

Elliptical machine, pedal close up

One helpful aspect of using an elliptical machine during exercise is its adaptable components - particularly its adjustable pedals. With this feature at hand, consider finding an ideal position for yourself by setting up each pedal so that when standing upon them, your knees rest with slight bends and your feet remain flatly grounded atop them. Avoid straining by keeping both toes and heels free from jutting off over the pedal's edges.

Adjust the handles

Elliptical machine, handle close up

For machines with moveable handles, it is key to make adjustments beforehand for successful workouts without injury risk. Take heed of proper handle grip by making sure there's a slight bend in elbows and relaxed shoulders while holding them during exercise sessions. Avoid having arms completely extended or held too tightly against the body as this might impede progress towards meeting fitness goals.

Choose a program or manual mode

Pre-programmed workout routines present on most elliptical machines change resistance and incline automatically according to a previously determined pattern beneficial when you want personalized goal-based exercise plans or varying difficulty levels options. For beginners of an elliptical machine routine opting for manual mode is wiser initially instead of becoming acclimated with pre-set workout plans first. The reason being that through manual settings one has complete power over adjusting relevant parameters such as speed and resistance relative to their comfort level.

How to Adjust the Resistance and Incline

When using an elliptical machine, one significant advantage is the ability to alter your exercise difficulty by changing resistance and incline levels. Resistance gauges how much physical strength is required to move pedals, while incline refers to pedal tilt angle. These parameters affect muscle engagement and calorie expenditure.

Utilize these recommendations for making adjustments:

Start low and slow

For those who are just setting foot on an elliptical machine for the first time, remember that it's always better to err on the side of caution at first. Rather than starting off with high resistance or incline levels right away - which can invite injury and exhaustion - take things slow by choosing lower settings that allow for smoother movement with less effort expended in breathing comfortably as well as moving easily on the pedals. In due course increase your strength gradually over time in order not overwhelm yourself from what you're capable of handling initially till such a time when you can increase your limits smoothly.

Use the buttons or knobs on the console

As you exercise on an elliptical machine, altering resistance and incline levels could enhance your overall workout experience. Take note of any buttons or knobs located on the console that can manipulate these settings - often appearing in most models as standard equipment. Directional cues such as arrows or plus/minus signs typically show how these features work best, while certain machines feature a handy “quick key” function for quickly switching between desired levels.

Listen to your body

Respecting what your body communicates regarding resistance and incline utilization throughout your workout is key in maintaining an effective exercise routine. Your objective should be pushing yourself appropriately without compromising breath control or conversation capability - achieving difficulty without strain. Implementing the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) strategy by scoring intensity from 1-10 can assist in determining optimal performance levels. During this workout, focus on maintaining moderate movement between levels 4-6 for best results.

How to Monitor Your Intensity and Pace

Man Working Out on Elliptical Machine with His Trainer

An elliptical trainer helps with tracking your intensity and pace through its integrated console feature. It provides various data that highlights important insights necessary for adjusting workout routines effectively. From this console platform, individuals can monitor different usage metrics including:

  • Time. This shows how long you’ve been working out. You can use this to set a goal for how long you want to exercise or to divide your workout into segments.
  • Distance. This shows how far you’ve traveled on the elliptical machine. You can use this to set a goal for how far you want to go or to compare your performance with previous workouts.
  • Speed. This shows how fast you’re moving on the elliptical machine. You can use this to adjust your pace or to challenge yourself with sprints or intervals.
  • Calories. This shows how many calories you’ve burned during your workout. You can use this to estimate how much energy you’re expending or to motivate yourself with a calorie goal.
  • Heart rate. This shows how fast your heart is beating during your workout. You can use this to measure how hard you’re working or to stay within a target heart rate zone. Some machines have built-in heart rate sensors on the handles, while others require a chest strap or a wrist monitor.

How to Do the Workout

With your ability to configure and function an elliptical machine anew, it's about time we jumpstart the routine! Each section of this exercise should be given credence; apply effort that syncs with suggested RPE guidelines throughout all segments accordingly. Stay within moderation - if breathing becomes unmanageable or if muscles are too fatigued, it is wise to bring down resistance levels. While performing this workout regimen consistently thrice weekly (including rest days in between), converse comfortably without any strain during the workout - work out but don't stress. Remember lower body stretches afterwards and sufficiently hydrate before and after workouts.

How to Cool Down and Stretch

After your workout, it’s important to cool down and stretch your muscles. This can help prevent soreness, stiffness, and injury, as well as improve your flexibility and recovery.

Here are some tips on how to cool down and stretch:

  • Gradually reduce your intensity and pace for the last five minutes of your workout. You want to bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal levels.
  • Get off the elliptical machine and do some gentle stretches for your lower body muscles, such as your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and hips. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing into it.
  • Don’t bounce or force any stretch beyond your comfort level. You should feel a mild tension in the muscle, not pain.
  • Drink plenty of water after your workout to rehydrate and replenish your electrolytes.


Protecting your joints while staying fit is now possible thanks to the elliptical machine that promotes healthy workouts with minimal pressure points. This piece of machinery provides numerous benefits including burning calories as well as toning muscles which contribute towards cardiovascular well-being. Let's not forget that prior knowledge on how to properly use this equipment is important especially if you're new. To ensure safety measures whilst achieving productivity follow this beginner's guide that includes information about setting up, adjusting incline/ resistance levels, reminders of monitoring pace/intensity. Be sure to include warm-up exercises before each session along with cool-down stretching afterwards for optimal results - Are you ready? Begin your first workout on an elliptical today and relish in feeling empowered.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!