building muscle elliptical

When most people think of working out on an elliptical machine, building muscle is rarely the first thing that comes to mind. Most immediately go to the cardio benefits of the elliptical and its role as a great calorie-burner and fat-loss activity.

But if one of your goals is to add a little bit of muscle, the elliptical can still be a part of your fitness routine. This is also a great muscle-building activity for those that have joint pain and want more low-impact options. You may not build muscle as quickly as traditional weight-training activities, but you can certainly strengthen a number of muscle groups throughout your body, including:


The elliptical produces a significant amount of quadriceps utilization, making it a great exercise for building strength throughout the front part of the legs. It’s also a great way to balance-out the legs as many people have a poor balance between the quadriceps (front part of the leg) and hamstrings (back part of the leg).

Glutes & Hips

The elliptical and its unique motion is also a great way to build strength throughout the gluteus maximus (butt) and vastus lateralis (hip) muscles. This is great for runners and cyclists who often have a hard time isolating these muscles and often find them to be a weak-link.

Upper Body & Core

When using an elliptical trainer that has the upper body arm option, you can easily incorporate some upper body strength. Your muscles of the chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps can all benefit from the upper body resistance.

You can also isolate the core muscles of the body if you skip using the arms or handrails and go hands-free. The balance factor and having to keep your body in good posture will do a great job of activating the core.

You don’t have to keep the same resistance throughout your entire workout! Vary the resistance to exercise different muscle groups at varying intensities to mimic using different weights. Similarly to weight training, form is important to get the most out of each exercise. Avoid slouching or over-extending your legs during your workout.

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