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The challenges an elliptical offers can help you steadily melt away fat.
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Shedding 40 pounds of fat is no small task, but clocking in time on the elliptical is a great place to start. The elliptical machine is especially great for people with significant amounts of weight to lose because it's naturally no-impact - so you won't get the same repeated stress on your joints as you would from, say, running.
That said, spending time on the elliptical is only one aspect of a successful weight loss journey. However, making it an almost-daily part of your weight loss routine will help you reach your goals.
Track Your Calorie Intake and Burn
The reason the elliptical is so good for weight loss is its ability to help you burn calories. Depending on your weight, you could scorch hundreds of calories during your workout. If you weigh 185 pounds, for instance, you'll burn an average of 400 calories in 30 minutes on the elliptical - if you weigh 150 pounds, you'd burn 335 calories.
That higher calorie burn makes it easier to create a calorie deficit: a state where you're burning more calories than you eat in a day. Your body needs to make up the deficit, so you start tapping into your fat stores - and each excess 3,500 calories you burn translates to roughly one pound of fat. That means burning 500 extra calories a day will yield one pound of fat loss a week, and 1,000 calories will yield a 2-pound weekly loss.
To get the best results, you'll need to figure out your daily calorie burn. Use an online calculator - the Baylor College of Medicine one linked below works great - to estimate your daily calorie burn based on your sex, age, weight and activity levels. Then subtract the calories you need to create your deficit.
If you need 2,500 calories to maintain your weight, for example, cutting your calorie intake to 2,000 calories a day would add up to a deficit of 3,500 calories - or one pound of fat - over the course of a week. Add in a half-hour on the elliptical 6 days a week, burning 400 calories each time, and you'll burn an extra 2,400 calories. That would bring your total deficit to 5,900 a week, or over 1.5 pounds of weight loss weekly.
Switch It Up to Keep It Fresh
Even if you're shedding between 1.5 and 2 pounds weekly, you're still looking at a months-long effort. If you're doing the same elliptical workout over and over, day after day, you won't just get bored - you'll also sacrifice your results. Research published in Current Biology in 2015 reports that your body adapts when you do the same workout over and over, which means you'll eventually burn fewer calories doing the same exercise.
The solution? Mix it up! Try a longer, lower-intensity elliptical workout one day, then crank up the resistance for a shorter, but more intense, sweat session the next day. As you get fitter, try incorporating intervals - short bursts of all-out intensity followed by longer recovery periods. HIIT workouts are just as effective for weight loss as longer, continuous intensity workouts, a 2017 study in the Journal of Diabetes Research reports, allowing you to save time at the gym.
Make the Elliptical Part of Your Routine
While the elliptical will help you torch the calories you need to lose 40 pounds, it's important to keep your diet in check, too. You'll need to combine burning more calories via the elliptical with getting fewer calories from your diet to create the deficit you need for weight loss.
What's more, you'll get the best results if you incorporate strength training in your gym sessions in addition to your cardio workouts. Strength training builds lean muscle, which is more metabolically active - so you'll naturally burn more calories - but means you'll look more muscular and fit when you reach your weight loss goals.