Elliptical Trainer Questions and Answers: Everything You Want To Know

Do you have questions regarding elliptical trainers and working out on them? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

If you just want the question to a certain answer, feel free to click the link in the table of contents below.

How many calories does working out on an elliptical trainer burn

How many calories can you add to your fitness tracking app after a 30 minute workout on an elliptical machine?

Telling you exactly how many calories you’ll burn is very difficult to say since it depends on so many factors. Your weight, training level, and muscle mass are some factors on your side. On the other side you also have a ton of settings on the machine that influence how many calories you burn. The resistance, speed and incline also have a huge effect.

Looking for a good elliptical trainer for a good price? Click here to find my recommendation for a home gym elliptical trainer.

In the end it’s all about the intensity you work out at. The harder it feels for you, the more calories you’ll burn. But, a person that has more muscle mass and/or is better trained has the ability to burn more calories in a given amount of time because more muscle needs more energy.

However, in the end, all other forms of cardio have the same problem. So that’s why exact burned calorie numbers are not super useful. What’s more useful to know is how ellipticals compare to other types of exercise.

On this Harvard Health page you can find a full list of different exercises and how many calories they burn. Click

There you can see what a normal 30 minute workout on an elliptical trainer burns;

  • 125 lbs. person: 270 calories
  • 155 lbs. person: 335 calories
  • 185 lbs. person: 400 calories

That’s not the highest possible amount of calories burned per 30 minutes but it’s pretty close to the top of the list. A ski machine burns slightly more calories with normal use but they aren’t very common. The top two calorie burners are ‘high impact’ and ‘vigorous’ which means you work out at a higher intensity.

Does using an elliptical trainer have any drawbacks?

While elliptical trainers have amazing benefits, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the seven biggest drawbacks;

  • Different movement pattern than running
  • Large piece of equipment
  • Not suitable for use under low ceilings
  • No bone density benefits
  • Always the same view
  • Not ‘one size fits all’
  • Not beneficial for every sport

If you want to know more about what those drawbacks mean exactly, make sure to read this post which goes into depth on those seven drawbacks.

How much does an elliptical trainer cost?

Elliptical trainers are pretty expensive pieces of equipment in general. Ellipticals are available in a very wide range of budgets. They can be bought for less than $200 or more than $5000. Of course there are huge differences in the quality, size, features, warranty and feel of those different models.

The majority of elliptical trainers cost between $800 and $2000. For a good one you should expect to pay $1000 or more.

Read more about elliptical trainer prices, a list and what you can expect for your money in this post.

How much noise does an elliptical trainer make?

Noise production is a big consideration for many people. You don’t want to disturb any other people in your house or even your neighbors with your workout. So how does an elliptical trainer compare to other cardio machines noise wise?

Elliptical trainers are pretty quiet as far as cardio machines go. Since there is no impact from feet on a belt like on a treadmill there is no noise from that. This already makes a big difference.

Elliptical machines aren’t motorized which means no noise from that either.

What makes noise is the flywheel. The vast majority of elliptical trainers use magnetic resistance which is one of the quietest ways to create resistance. All in all, elliptical trainers are a very quiet ways to exercise.

That doesn’t mean they’re completely quiet. They still have moving parts which are always going to create some noise. However, maintaining your elliptical will help keep this to a minimum.

Does an elliptical trainer make you a better runner?

Elliptical trainers only make you a better runner if you’re not a very well trained runner to begin with. The muscles you use and movement pattern are a bit different to running outside or on a treadmill.

That means an elliptical trainer doesn’t exactly prepare you for running outside. However, for people that are not very avid runners it’s better than not training at all. If you’re an experienced runner, you can use an elliptical trainer to keep your cardio and endurance up.

Just keep in mind that while there is a big overlap in the muscles you use, it’s not exactly the same as running. That means that when you change from the elliptical to running outside, you have to be a bit careful and give the lagging muscles some time to catch up.

Looking for a good elliptical trainer for a good price? Click here to find my recommendation for a home gym elliptical trainer.

Do elliptical machines help burn belly fat?

Sadly, burning fat in one specific location isn’t possible. Elliptical machines can definitely help burn belly fat albeit not targeted.

They don’t burn it directly but, elliptical machines are great tools to burn a lot of calories. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose body fat. So if you burn a lot of calories on your elliptical and keep your diet in check, you will lose body fat.

Now when you lose it on your belly, depends largely on your genetics. Some people will lose all the fat anywhere else before they start getting rid of belly fat. Other people will lose fat much more gradually over their whole body.

Suggested post: 15 Awesome benefits of elliptical trainers.

Elliptical trainers will activate your core as well. Strengthening your core will pull in your belly a little which gives the illusion of a smaller belly. Having a strong core is always good so this is not a drawback. Just don’t confuse that with losing fat.

Is it OK to use an elliptical every day?

You can use an elliptical trainer every day however, there are some precautions you should take and red flags you shouldn’t ignore. It is possible you’ll get into some trouble if you use the elliptical too much.

What kind of problems are we talking about?

  • Muscle ache
  • Overuse injuries
  • Physical fatigue
  • Mental fatigue

Muscle aches usually happen when you do something new. After a few workouts on an elliptical you’ll not get them anymore.

Other problems are from long term use. Physical fatigue is just a result of expending a lot of energy. If you can recover enough before your next workout, there is no problem. However, when you don’t recover enough, you start getting into trouble. You won’t feel quite as energetic. Maybe it’s difficult to motivate yourself for the next workout or you start feeling little aches and pains in your body.

So it all revolves around recovery. If you can recover before your next workout, it’s fine. If not, you’ll have problems over time. You can improve your recovery by sleeping more, improving sleep quality, diet and nutrients. Regular sauna use and massages can help a lot as well.

It’s a good idea to take at least one rest day a week. Your body needs time to repair itself. That repair faze is when you actually become better and stronger. If you don’t get enough recovery time or the conditions are wrong, you are at risk of running into some of the problems listed above.

Listen to your body and take care of yourself. Sleep well and eat well to make sure you recover as much as you can.

Is 30 minutes on an elliptical enough?

Can you get a full workout in 30 minutes? 30 minutes of working out on an elliptical trainer is enough if you push yourself hard enough. However, pushing yourself can be pretty difficult.

If you follow a HIIT program, you can do a really tough workout in just 15 minutes. 

Even without utilizing HIIT, you can do a really good workout done in 30 minutes. It all depends on the intensity level you’re working out at. If you keep your heart rate relatively high, 30 minutes is all you need.

As you can read above, a 125 lbs. person will burn about 270 calories every 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.

For low intensity, steady state cardio 30 minutes is sufficient but once your fitness level increases, you might want to go for a little bit longer than that.

Do elliptical trainers work?

Elliptical trainers can’t do everything but, they are good tools to reach several different goals. If your goals are one of the following, an elliptical machine is a good choice.

  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Burn calories
  • Tone your body
  • Lower your body fat percentage
  • Build moderate leg muscles
  • Do rehab exercise

Elliptical machines can be a great tool to accomplishing any of those goals. You can choose to focus on one or more or those goals by making small changes to your workout. In the end it depends on how you use the tool you have. Just like you can have a hammer but not know how to use it, ellipticals have to be used in the right way to reach the goal you want.

Luckily elliptical trainers are pretty easy to use correctly.

Can an elliptical make you gain weight?

An elliptical machine is very unlikely to make you gain weight. There are two main things an elliptical trainer do to your body that are related to weight/size. One is burning calories and the other one is building moderate amounts of muscle.

If your diet stays the same but you burn 300 calories more by using an elliptical machine, you’ll likely lose body fat (if your diet maintained your weight before). If you lose body fat, you’ll lose weight.

At the same time, using an elliptical might cause moderate muscle gains. However, these gains are going to be fairly limited.  Keep in mind muscle is heavier per cubic inch than fat so combined with the fat loss, you might not actually lose that much weight, depending on your body fat percentage when you started. But you’ll look a lot smaller.

Suggested post: Does an elliptical machine build muscle?

In most cases, the body fat reduction will be bigger than the muscle gains so it’s highly unlikely you’ll gain weight overall.

Should you peddle backwards on an elliptical?

Treadmills only go into one direction. You turn them on and the belt turns. Elliptical trainers don’t do this. You move the flywheel yourself. There is no motor that moves the pedals for you. That means you can pedal the other way if you want to.

But should you? Pedaling backwards on an elliptical has the benefit of that you use slightly different muscles and use muscles in different ways. Loading muscles in a different way will strengthen them and this is always a good thing. It creates a more well-rounded body and muscular system.

Suggested post: Do elliptical trainers have adjustable incline?

Pedaling backwards doesn’t really burn more calories or give any extra benefits in cardiovascular health. There are small benefits in muscle building and it’s just something different.

Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to HomeGymResource.com. I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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