elliptical cross training for beginners

Elliptical Cross Trainer Workout: 2 Fantastic Beginner Routines

Ahhh, the elliptical cross trainer machine. It’s not a treadmill. Nor is it a stairclimber. It’s something in between that can be incredibly effective at torching calories, but oddly enough, commonly misused.

There will always be that one person that keeps the rest of us entertained. Oh well. That aside, if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, an elliptical cross trainer workout is a great workout for you to start with. The elliptical machine provides a low-impact workout that is great for beginners.

In this guide, we will give you a basic overview of how to use an elliptical cross trainer, as well as some beginner workouts to help get you started!

Related: Best Under Desk Ellipticals, Treadmills, and Bike Pedals

How to Use an Elliptical Cross Trainer

First, let’s take a look at how to use an elliptical cross trainer. The first thing you will need to do is adjust the settings on the machine to fit your height, if possible. Once you have done this, you will need to hold onto the handrails and step onto the pedals.

Start off by pedaling slowly to get a feel for the machine. It can feel a bit unnatural and that’s normal. Once you feel more comfortable with the movement, you can start to increase your speed.

To make your workout more challenging, you can increase the resistance on the machine. That being said, we would recommend not increasing the resistance of the workout until you can comfortably do a 20-30 minute workout on the lowest resistance setting to build familiarity and get your body used to the movement.

Some more modern elliptical machines will even have an incline setting where you can train as if you are trying to climb uphill. This is more advanced though and will give you a far tougher workout so don’t worry about it too much if your fitness levels aren’t quite there yet.

To see how many calories you can burn on an elliptical machine, take a look at our extensive elliptical machine article.

Elliptical Cross Trainer For Beginners Workout

Now that you know how to use an elliptical cross trainer, let’s take a look at a cross trainer for beginners workout that you can do.

The below table has three columns: Duration, intensity/pace, and Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The first two columns are self-explanatory but you may not have heard of rate of perceived exertion before.

RPE is a rough measurement of the amount of work you are putting into an exercise. For example, an RPE of 10 would be maximum effort and an RPE of 1 would be very low effort, like casually walking.

elliptical cross training workout plan for beginners

This workout is 20 minutes.

To start seeing significant results, we recommend that you do this workout three times a week. As you become more comfortable with the machine and your fitness level increases, you can start to increase the length of your workouts.

Intermediate Elliptical Cross Trainer Workout

Once you’ve been using a cross-trainer/elliptical machine for a while, you may want to progress into a more challenging workout. Below is a more challenging 30 minute cross trainer workout.

elliptical cross training workout plan for intermediate experience

This workout is 30 minutes.

How Long is a Good Workout on a Cross Trainer?

If you’re a beginner, a good general rule of thumb is to start with a 20-30 minute workout on your elliptical cross trainer. As you get more comfortable with the machine, you can then then gradually increase the time. When you are first starting out, it is important to listen to your body and not overdo it.

Reminder: Remember to warm up before your workout and cool down afterward. This will help to prevent any injuries and help to steadily increase and decrease your heart rate.

To hit the American Heart Association‘s recommended weekly cardio activity of 150 minutes, you’d have to do 5 30-minute cross trainer workouts a week. This may sound like a lot, but if you build it into your routine and even mix up your cardio with a variety of activities, this is easily achievable.

Also, don’t feel guilty for having a rest day. Rest days are completely normal even for experienced athletes and give your body a chance to recover.

Elliptical Workout Example Video

Below is a great video demonstrating a 20 minute elliptical cross trainer for beginners workout:


What ever form of cardio you choose, congratulations on putting your health first. Hopefully this guide has helped you to understand how to use an elliptical cross trainer and given you some ideas to get started. Remember, start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your fitness level increases. Have fun and enjoy your workout!

As always, consult with a doctor before starting any new workout routine if you have any concerns. Happy elliptical-ing!

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