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January 27, 2022 3 min read

Known for providing a great cardio workout, the elliptical machine is great fitness equipment for both novice and experienced gym goers alike. One of the main reasons it is so popular is because they offer a highly versatile, easy to adapt full body workout, while also strengthening your heart, improving your breathing capacity and speeding up your weight loss. There is no doubt that this multi-joint activity can effectively target several muscle groups in the upper and lower limbs, but you may not know exactly which muscle areas to target. Many people want to improve the aesthetic feeling of some muscle parts of the body. Therefore, below I will describe which muscles will be targeted when working out on the elliptical trainer, so that you can quickly target the muscle areas you want to work.

Elliptical Exercise

1. Quadriceps
The quadriceps muscle, located in the front of the thigh, is activated in movements involving leg stretching. Your quads will also be activated every time you step off the pedals on the elliptical cross trainer as they straighten your legs during that phase of the workout. If you add more resistance or tackle hillside during your elliptical workout, then these muscles will start to burn faster. Therefore, if you want to exercise your quadriceps femoris to a large extent, you need to build up the strength of your quads by keeping the incline of the elliptical machine low and the resistance high.

2. Hamstrings
The hamstrings include the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris muscles located at the back of the leg. The engagement of these muscles occurs during elliptical exercise through extension and flexion. The flexion and extension of the leg plays a vital role in elliptical workout. If you want to emphasize the hamstrings, you can increase the incline setting on the elliptical machine. However, if your elliptical machine is not equipped with an incline function, you can pedal in reverse.

3. Calves
These are the small but powerful lower limb muscles at the back of the lower leg. The calf extends from the back of the knee to the ankle and is considered an endurance muscle group. When you step down on the pedals with the palms of your feet, the hallux and gastrocnemius muscles in your calves provide the propulsion for strides and your calves both get a lot of training. When you use an elliptical trainer for incline exercises, this works the calf muscles even more. Although the elliptical machine won't necessarily make your calf muscles bigger, the workout can usually make your calf muscles stronger.

4. Glutes
Another group of muscles targeted during elliptical workouts are the gluteus maximus, located in the hip area. These muscles work together with the quadriceps and hamstrings. Hip extensions are a key movement in elliptical exercise, especially when you place the machine at an incline. Your gluteus maximus will help your quads generate enough force to press down each time you step on the pedal of the elliptical machine. In addition, your gluteus maximus will also get more of a workout as you move from a seated to a standing position.

5. Abdominal Muscles
Elliptical workouts do not directly target the abdominal muscles. However, over time you can build up your abdominal muscles by adjusting your position on the gym cross trainer. One of the best ways to build your abdominal muscles is to pedal without relying on the handlebars. You will have to focus on your abdominal muscles to gain balance. This exercise position will help you activate your abdominal muscles. You should note that strong core muscles are essential for maintaining good posture, which can further prevent back pain and injury.

6. Triceps
The triceps are the muscles that run along the back of the arm. Each time you push forward on the handles, you work your triceps. As you move the handles back and forth on the elliptical cross trainer, focus on pushing forward with the palms of your hands. Although you won't get the burning sensation like you do with the bench press, you will activate the triceps.

7. Biceps
As the biceps are the opposite of the triceps, you will work the biceps by doing opposite movements. Focus on pulling the handles towards your body and flexing your biceps with each pull. In other words, the biceps and back muscles help you with the pulling motion.

As you can see, the muscles used on the elliptical machine are not only the legs, hips and abdominals, but also the back and arm muscles. Once you have the details, adding it to your fitness program will help you to strengthen different parts of your body so that you can get more out of each workout.

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