What Muscle Do You Work Out on an Elliptical Machine?

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Ellipticals offer bodyweight resistance, making them apt equipment for novice and elite athletes to enhance and maintain fitness. They are not only the most popular exercise machines in commercial gyms and home gyms but are the preferred ones for total body workouts.

You can perform highly versatile exercises using them, allowing you to work either your upper and lower body simultaneously or only your lower body. Since they are easily adaptable, you will have no difficulty getting them to move, following your rhythm quickly.

As they work for several major muscle groups simultaneously, they reign the world of fitness equipment for many years. You can easily challenge yourself or wind down the training by changing your workout on these machines.

So, if you are interested in understanding how elliptical targets major muscles in your body and how effective it is on them, keep reading.

Table of Contents


Legs gain the most benefit from an elliptical workout as you need to use the force applied by your legs to operate the elliptical. Compared with treadmills, you need to use leg movement that benefits elliptical users more.

This process engages multiple leg muscles simultaneously, giving your calves and quadriceps enough action to activate them.  The quadriceps are the four muscles present in the front of the thigh and are engaged when you extend your knee.

You effectively utilize these muscles while on an elliptical as you need to extend your knee to push on the pedals to move it. If you are aiming to challenge yourself more, consider modifying the incline.

Most elliptical machines are equipped with this facility and offer you the experience of climbing uphill or downhill which sometimes comes as pre-set programs.

You can press a few buttons to access these options and use dynamic ways to perform various exercises.


Elliptical gives you cardio exercise and engages your core involving abdominal muscles. It is effectively done only when you maintain the proper posture that is stable and erect. You can jog or run to get these muscles involved.

If you favor one leg over the other, it might not give optimal results, and the same is the case with your back, as you need to keep it straight. It makes it ideal for tightening your core to maintain this position.

Even though you start with this posture, it might not stay the same throughout your workout, and you need to be attentive to keep it the same all the time. Otherwise, it might lead to inefficacy and even to injury sometimes.


When it comes to people preferring ellipticals over a treadmill is mainly because it allows you to work your arms also. As the handles move in tandem with the pedals, you can work them simultaneously.

This action actively engages your rhomboids and biceps when you pull the handles and your triceps when you push them away.

Final words

While ellipticals can work out major muscle groups, you need to maintain proper posture to gain full advantage of all the benefits they have to offer.

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