I thought the elliptical was a cop-out, but this leg-burning workout proved me wrong


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Photo: Getty Images/nd3000

I’ll admit it: I’m a treadmill snob. If someone suggests that I give other gym equipment—like the rower or, worsethe stair climber—a chance, I pop my earbuds in and slowly back away. And that all happens in double time for anyone who suggests that I try an elliptical machine (scoff!). All that changed, though, after some big talk from a fellow Well+Good staffer, who challenged me to give her go-to elliptical workout a try. To quickly summarize the experience: My body got schooled.

As I hopped on the cross-trainer (which is the fancy name for an elliptical that requires you to use your arms) this morning, my first task was to turn the thing on. “Where’s the ‘quick start’ option?!,” I thought as I furiously hit every button. Once that was under control, I grabbed the moving handles and attempted to replicate Arianna Grande as Elle Woods near the end of the “thank u, next” music video. As I glanced over at myself in the mirror, I noticed that—apart from the high pony—I look nothing like the mega-pop star. For one thing, I’m really, really sweaty. For another, I’m so breathless that I definitely could not drop a beat right now.

The brunt of the workout (which you’ll find below) is a progression. Meaning, you start at one speed and work your way up on the minute. Resistances of 8 and 10 feel pretty comfortable for me, but when I reach the 12 and 13, I’m a goner. It’s a lot like running uphill on the treadmill—only the elliptical fights back (and it fights back hard). Really, if you were to combine the treadmill, a leg press machine, some flailing arm-work, and burpees as the cherry on top, that’s how this cross-training workout feels. I have been humbled, everyone. But more importantly: I started the day with a really, really effective sweat sesh.

An elliptical workout that proves the machine can be ultra-challenging

Warm up:
3 min: Resistance at 7.5

Circuit:
Each of these takes nine minutes, so do as many as your schedule allows. (I completed the whole circuit three time through, for example.)

1 min: Resistance at 8
1 min: Resistance at 10
1 min: Resistance at 12
2 min: Resistance at 13
1 min: Resistance at 12
1 min: Resistance at 10
1 min: Resistance at 8
1 min: Burpees

Sprints:
Repeat eight times.

30 seconds: Sprint with resistance at 13
20 seconds: Recover

If strength training isn’t already a part of your #gymhustle, here’s an easy place to begin. Plus, how to balance your cardio with weights

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